Eat like an Insider: Chef Damon Menapace

Chef Damon Menapace of Le Virtu and Brigantessa tells us where to eat in Philadelphia. | Provided

If you’re a fan of East Passyunk gems Le Virtù and Brigantessa, you’re already familiar with Chef Damon Menapace’s work, who accepted the position of executive chef at both restaurants earlier this year.

The 31-year-old Kimberton native has spent the last 11 years in Philly, working at some of the city’s top kitchens, like Kensington Quarters and Alla Spina.

“I love the food industry because it’s never-ending and always evolving,” he says. “There’s always more to learn and new things to try. Food and dining bring people together and comfort people. I also enjoy the hands-on, fast-paced environment.”

In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out with his wife and cats and outdoor activities like biking, hiking and camping.

When it comes to dining out in Philly,  Menapace gives us the lowdown on his favorite pho in the city, an under-the-radar taco spot in the Italian market and where to nosh on soup dumplings.

Best late night meal?
Fountain Porter (1601 S. 10th St.). It’s in my neighborhood, open late and has a great beer selection. I love the $5 burger with fries.


Best meal under $10?
Pho 75 (1122 Washington Ave.)  serves my favorite pho in the city. Get the fatty brisket and flank pho.

Best hidden food gem?
Blue Corn (940 S. 9th St.). Their tacos are always on point, with friendly service. They’re even open for lunch. Try the pastor tacos.

Best place to dine alone?
ITV (1615 E. Passyunk Ave.). Their friendly service complements their great happy hour, which also includes really good food. If you’re there at happy hour, get the beef tartare.

Place you always recommend or take out-of-towners?
Zahav (237 St. James Place). It’s all-around one of the best restaurants in Philly, always delicious, and well worth the wait for a seat at the bar. Get the Turkish hummus.

Go-to date spot?
Bistrot la Minette (623 S. 6th St.). It’s a beautiful space with big red velvet banquettes, serving classic French food and French wines. Try the mille feuille aux framboise for dessert.

Best place to catch up with friends?
Bing Bing Dim Sum (1648 East Passyunk Ave.). Who doesn’t love soup dumplings? It’s cheap, loud and fun. Try the roast pork bao.

Most Instagrammable restaurant?
Townsend (1623 E. Passyunk Ave.). In addition to great service, they serve beautiful food. The team is always friendly, and besides their amazing cocktails, I always run into friends and peers hanging out there. Get the escargot. 

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