Marcie Turney, who has built up an impressive portfolio of businesses along the once seedy stretch of 13th Street with her partner Valerie Safran, opened the long awaited Barbuzzo this week. The rustic Mediterranean bar and restaurant is the seventh venture the two have hatched in the neighborhood. Previous ventures, which have served as anchors in the neighborhood’s transformation, include their BYOBs Lolita and Bindi, and retail operations Open House, Grocery, Verde and Marcie Blaine Artisan Chocolates. In the face of numerous setbacks and mounting expectations that are higher than Rick James in the ’80s, Turney says Barbuzzo’s opening went smoother than expected. In this latest installment of The Philadelphia Diet, wherein a local food fanatic documents her dining experiences for a week, Turney fills us in on how tweaking Barbuzzo’s menu changed her eating habits, the importance of the “perfect imperfect pizza crust” and where to find the best hangover cure at Reading Terminal Market.
Monday, August 23
Like every morning, I started with La Colombe coffee at my apartment above Bindi. That’s like the only time Val and I have together. We sit on the couch, drink coffee and watch whatever we have on the DVR for about an hour and then we start our day. If I don’t get that cup of coffee, the day isn’t happening.
At 1:30 p.m. I had some peanut butter out of the huge, three-pound jar that we keep stashed in the chocolate kitchen (that connects Verde and Barbuzzo).
Most days I don’t have a sit-down meal. I tend to pick at and taste things we’re cooking and baking for the restaurants. That’s especially the case now. We’re making everything that’s on the menu over and over again to try and get the recipes right. My poor sous chef has been making gnocchi like 10 times a day. I didn’t eat again until 9 p.m. while making pizzas with the staff. Every night for about two weeks we’ve been practicing making pizzas. Tonight we made an egg pizza with brussels sprout leaves, house made guanciale, truffle oil and secret sauce. Once you taste it you will know why it’s a secret. My pizza guy wants to know if I will ever tell him what the secret is, but I probably won’t. He’s got a big mouth.
Tuesday, August 24
I started today with coffee and some steel cut oatmeal from Grocery, because Val was telling me that I had to eat something for breakfast. Typically I don’t eat breakfast. I usually don’t eat until like 1:30 in the afternoon. She went and got oatmeal and persuaded me to eat it.
Around 1:30 p.m. Val came by with fruit from the fruit truck from the corner, which I took and ate.
Throughout the evening I tasted all the dishes on the menu that the staff was making over and over. Pig popcorn, octopus, gnocchi, etc. Tweak this and try it again and then tweak that and taste again.
Around 10 p.m. we made more pizza. We also had a staff meal of bucatini with Sunday supper pork ragu (awesome) and more pizza. Everybody here will make pizza until they have mastered the “perfectly imperfect crust;” one that is thin, not perfectly round, has a nice char and irregular blistering bubbles.
Wednesday, August 25
La Colombe coffee and steel cut oatmeal at my apartment.
Around 2:40 p.m. I ate more peanut butter from my stash.
Throughout the afternoon we tweaked and tested the menu some more. That evening saw more menu tweaking and of course, more pizza.
Thursday, August 26
La Colombe coffee.
The rest of the day was all about tasting and tweaking.
At 11:00 p.m. we started making more pizza. This time it included copious wine drinking. That egg pizza takes nerves away. Maybe it’s the wine?
Friday, August 27
La Colombe coffee and fruit from the fruit truck.
Around 12:30 p.m. I walked up to Reading Terminal Market and got all the staff soup from Sang Kee Peking Duck House. Their wonton noodles with roast pork and greens will cure any hangover. Back at Barbuzzo it occurs to me that that my staff is not getting younger, I’m just getting older!
Read More: The Philadelphia Diet Archive