Sometimes we stumble upon places that feel like a gift. Stina’s Pizzeria is such a place. Out with a friend on a summer evening walk on the west side of Passyunk Ave. in South Philadelphia, we realized we were both hungry but not in the mood to go home and cook. Noticing party lights and red patio umbrellas a block ahead, we moved towards them.
Closer, Mediterranean music and conversation livened the city block. No reservation – no problem (but I wouldn’t count on that – I imagine this place gets packed!). A friendly server sat us and noted that we could buy beer across the street (BYOB). I asked instead about the iced Moroccan mint tea and he brought out small glasses to taste – just sweet enough and so refreshing.
The menu offers an enticing blend of, yes, pizza (which is incredible – we shared a Fungi with exotic mushrooms roasted garlic, thyme and mozzarella) but also the best spanakopita I’ve ever tasted (award-winning chef Bobby Saritsoglou’s Greek heritage clearly an influence – he co-owns the restaurant with his community activist/organizer wife Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou), octopus slow-cooked for 3 hours then oven-crisped with olive tapenade. Also, almond romesco, olive purée and black garlic, and pide (Turkish bread baked with fillings like spiced North African Sausage or Tallegio and Truffles), as well as seasonal desserts. The couple’s goal of providing “a social and cultural hub with fresh, seasonal and affordable food in the neighborhood” is clearly succeeding: reasonable prices, a vibrant atmosphere and culinary pleasures.