Kosher Eateries to Open in Merion, Center City

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Catering from Joshua Small at a recent event (Photo courtesy of Joshua Small)

Two kosher restaurants, Savvati Gourmet in Merion Station and 20th Street Pizza in Center City, are in the process of opening.

Savvati Gourmet, located at 358 Montgomery Ave., will first open for pre-ordered Passover pick-ups on April 18. Then, on April 23 and 24, Executive Chef Joshua Small will run a kosher-for-Passover restaurant at a currently undetermined location. After Passover, Savvati Gourmet, which is under the supervision of Keystone K, will offer Shabbat pick-ups and eventually open as a casual sit-down deli.

Joshua Small is the chef at Savvati Gourmet, which is opening in Merion Station. (Photo courtesy of Joshua Small)

Small plans to offer affordable and quick foods, like salads and burgers, and have take-out options for people who want to pick up food for home.

“I’ve always been interested in cooking,” said Small, who grew up in Norristown. “I’ve cooked since I was little, helping my mother. She was a small-time caterer. We used to cook for Chabad a lot when I was little.”

For Passover, Savvati Gourmet will offer a brunch buffet and a lunch and dinner menu. Small decided to make the restaurant kosher for Passover because it was easy with the timing of his opening. He is not yet sure whether that will be something he continues to do in future years.

He doesn’t yet know the Passover location because he is unsure as to what kind of demand there is for a kosher-for-Passover restaurant, an unusual offering for Philadelphia.

“If it’s going to be a lot, my restaurant is not such a big space,” Small said. “We’re looking at different local options to have it off-premises.”

Small recently moved back to the area to start the restaurant. He had been living in Queens, New York, where he attended yeshiva and culinary school, then spent the last 18 years working for different caterers.

When he learned that the location, which was formerly Kabob & Grill Indian Cuisine, would soon become available, he decided the time was right to start his own restaurant.

The location, he noted, is close to several other kosher restaurants, such as Citron & Rose Tavern & Market and Nana’s Kitchen & Catering.

“Having numerous options in one area will be a good pull to the area, even for tourists,” Small said. “There’s a lot of kosher tourists, especially around the holidays that come from New York and Baltimore, everywhere around. When there’s more than one option in the suburbs, in the same few blocks, it’s a good attraction.”

20th Street Pizza, under the supervision of the International Kosher Council, is located at 108 South 20th St. (Selah Maya Zighelboim)

Similarly, 20th Street Pizza, located at 108 S. 20th St., is near a few other kosher eateries like Mama’s Vegetarian and Hey Hummus.

The pizzeria is owned by Mark Mebus, who also owns Blackbird Pizzeria in Northern Liberties. Like Blackbird, 20th Street Pizza will be vegan and kosher, under the supervision of the International Kosher Council (IKC), but this new restaurant has a different focus from Blackbird.

“Here, we’re specifically doing naturally leavened pan pizza,” Mebus said. “It’s a more focused product, and we’re dealing a lot more with seasonal vegetables as a major focus. Whereas Blackbird is vegan cheesesteaks and sandwiches, things like that, the vibe here [at 20th Street Pizza] is a little different.”

Mebus said he plans to eventually have 20th Street Pizza open seven days a week, but the restaurant is easing into that as he hires and trains staff.

The pizzeria’s hours are Wednesday through Saturday, opening at noon and closing when the restaurant runs out of pizza. Starting April 2, the restaurant will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays. Within a few weeks, Mebus said, the restaurant will have full hours, opening for lunch at 11 a.m. or noon and closing around 9 p.m.

Mebus isn’t Jewish, but previously worked at the kosher and vegan restaurant Blossom in New York City, so he was used to kosher establishments. He only had to switch to a different type of vinegar to make Blackbird kosher, so it was an easy transition.

When he decided to open 20th Street Pizza, it made sense to also make this new pizzeria a kosher restaurant.

“This is more in line with what I like to do,” Mebus said. “This is more of a personal restaurant than Blackbird is to me in terms of what I like to produce myself. Blackbird, I love it, don’t get me wrong, but we were trying to just supply a vegan version of the standard Philadelphia pizzeria. It’s strictly serving that purpose. Here, it’s a different approach. It’s just something that is just exactly what I want to make and the specific product that I want to put out.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. If only it would be nut free, too, then we could go. We used to go to Blackbird until they started serving donuts made on shared equipment with nuts.

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