When the air is gets brisk and the leaves have turned, it’s time for something savory, warm and filling. Pumpkin, and its squash and gourd kin, is the perfect raw ingredient for all kinds of soul-satisfying dishes. Philly’s chefs have cooked up some winners this year, and they’re still on the menu, so drop by these area restaurants before it’s too late.
110 S. 13th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Chefs Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran were recently named to Philadelphia Magazine’s 10 Best Philadelphians list — not just because they’re insanely great chefs (they are), but because they revitalized a once-reviled neighborhood in Philly and made it the hippest spot in town. They’ve done a similar number on the lowly butternut squash with their butternut arancini. Made of butternut squash, fontina and risotto that’s formed into balls and cooked until crispy then finished with pine nut pesto, grana and smoked blue tractor farm honey, this is one scrumptious dish. Crack the the crispy outer layer, let the fontina ooze a little, and take a bite. You’ll think you’re in heaven rather than Philly.
1514 Tasker St.
Philadelphia, PA 19145
Circles Contemporary Asian Cuisine in the Point Breeze neighborhood is on a winning streak: It was awarded the 2012 Philly Hotlist award for best Thai and Philadelphia magazine’s Best Thai of Philly, 2012. One of Circle’s fan favorites is the pumpkin curry: rich Kabocha pumpkin pieces and bell peppers immersed in a velvety, sweet and spicy curry. Circles has two locations, a dine-in restaurant and a take-out and delivery spot.
232 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Homey and inviting, Chloe is a gem of a BYOB located in Old City. It does not take reservations, but take a chance; there’s a good shot you’ll be seated before too long. The menu may seem small (six entrees), but there are always plenty of creative specials. One of Chloe’s most popular menu items is its ravioli. Filled with roasted pumpkin and ricotta cheese, covered with brown sage butter, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds, there’s a lot of flavor here. Make sure to bring cash though; Chloe doesn’t take cards.
1521 Spruce St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Andrew and Kristin Wood’s Russet is a farm-to-table restaurant using local and sustainable products. The chefs have forged relationships with all of their fresh food suppliers, from the Lancaster County farmer who provides pigs to the Alaskan fisherman who sends his bounties from the sea. Because the menu is dependent upon the products the restaurant receives, it is ever changing. Every day the website is updated with that day’s fresh ingredients and a suggestion of wines (Russet is BYOB). Right now, the menu features hubbard squash sformato with wild watercress, toasted sunflower seeds and brown butter. And if you’re wondering what sformato is, it’s actually a type of Italian flan/souffle hybrid.
276 S. 20th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Audrey Claire is a Rittenhouse Square neighborhood favorite with its open-air feel that brings the diner into the kitchen to enjoy the “theatrics.” Audrey Claire apparently has no fear of the Great Pumpkin; the menu boasts no fewer than three items containing the orange squash. There is an antipasta with roasted beets, pumpkin and goat cheese; pumpkin hummus, one of the dip choices in the Mediterranean spreads; and a roasted pumpkin and parsnip salad with golden raisins, fresh mint and shaved locatelli, which is both earthy and bright at the same time.
Related: Top Autumn Desserts in Philadelphia