The end of April can mean only one thing, Flavors on the Avenue is almost here! Held the last Sunday of every April, Flavors on the Avenue is one of my favorite annual events. The food festival is held on E Passyunk Ave from Broad St to Dickinson St this Sunday, April 28 from 11am to 5pm.
Over two dozen of the region’s best restaurants will fire up street food, small plates, and signature dishes along the Avenue, ranging on average from $3.00 to $6.00 and will be pay-as-you-go. Craft beef, wine, and seasonal sips will also be available, sold by select restaurants, plus a Founders Brewing Co. Tasting Tent. Restaurants participating include:
- Barcelona Wine Bar
- Bing Bing Dim Sum
- Cantina Los Caballitos
- Chhaya Cafe
- El Sarape Restaurant
- Essen Bakery
- ITV Philly
- Le Virtù
- Mamma Maria Ristorante
- Manatawny Still Works
- Noir Philadelphia
- Paradiso Restaurant
- Pistola’s Del Sur
- Plenty Café
- P’unk Burger
- Redcrest Fried Chicken
- Saté Kampar
- Stogie Joe’s Tavern
- The Bottle Shop
- Teas n’ Mi
- Tre Scalini
- Vanilya Bakery
In addition to all of the yummy food options, look for live music and entertainment throughout the festival, plus bring the kids for free family fun activities in kid zones up and down the avenue.
Retail, family, and fashion shops along the avenue will also be participating; look for shopping, sidewalk sales, special events, workshops, and much more!
This is an event that I’ve been attending since it first began as Flavors of the Avenue, under a tent. In 2017, the event moved along the avenue itself and has become the largest event on E Passyunk.
To read some of my past posts highlighting this event, check out:
This year, I wanted to highlight one of the many vegetarian options that will be offered on Sunday: Eggplant Meatballs from Brigantessa! I attended a media event for Flavors this year and was struck with how many delicious meatless options will be offered this year.
Every Sunday is pasta night in my house, so we went for a meatless Sunday, substituting in these yummy Eggplant Meatballs for our usual Meatballs in Tomato Sauce.
- 1 large eggplant
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, minced (or use a garlic press)
- 2 (28 oz) cans tomato puree
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 tablespoons chopped basil, divided, plus more for serving
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2.5 cups bread crumbs (I used Italian bread crumbs)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- crusty bread or pasta, for serving
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Use a fork to prick your eggplant all over and add to a baking sheet. Roast the eggplant for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
Cut into the eggplant and scrape the inside into a large bowl and set aside to cool completely, discarding the skin.
While waiting for the eggplant to cool, add 1/4 cup olive oil to a cast iron pan and heat over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until softened and fragrant. Add in the garlic and stir to combine, cooking for another minute.
Add in the tomato puree. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low to simmer. Season with salt and pepper, add the bay leaf, and stir in 2 tablespoons basil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 45 minutes or until thickened.
While the sauce cooks, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
To the large bowl with the eggplant, add in the breadcrumbs, eggs, Pecorino Romano, parsley, 2 tablespoons basil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, using your hands to combine thoroughly. It will feel really dry at first, but as you work it, it will become more sticky.
Add the flour and cornstarch to a shallow bowl, stirring to combine. Line a baking sheet with wax paper or a silicone mat. Roll the eggplant mixture into 20 balls, pressing to tightly compact each ball. Lightly roll each ball in the flour mixture and add to the sheet pan. Drizzle with some olive oil.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until firm and browned, flipping the eggplant meatballs halfway through. It’s ok if there is still some flour on them.
Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add to a bowl and garnish with basil and a bit more cheese. Serve with crusty bread, or served over pasta.
There is a lot of flavor packed into that little meat(less)ball! They’re fairly dense, so a few of these should really fill you up.
If you’re not a fan of eggplant, I’d still suggest trying these. They taste more like the seasoning and sauce than they do eggplant!