By Joy Manning
Photography by Neal Santos
For the past 19 years, critic Phyllis Stein-Novack has written about Philadelphia restaurants in the South Philly Review in her trademark nononsense style. Trend averse and sharply opinionated, Stein-Novack isn’t afraid to impugn the dining scene’s sacred cows or air unpopular points of view. As a result, the repartee that unfolds in the comments section of her online reviews is often as compelling as the article itself. Stein-Novack certainly knows how to stir the pot—and not just in print. When she isn’t dining at new restaurants, she loves cooking at home for friends and family. But before she began covering the dining-out scene, she reviewed cookbooks for the Daily News.
Author Barbara Kafka has always been a special favorite. “She holds the reader’s hand and keeps it simple,” says Stein-Novack, who still cooks from Kafka’s 1993 classic, Food for Friends. Over the years, Stein-Novack has put her own twist on that book’s straightforward roast chicken recipe, but she continues to turn to Kafka’s books for cooking—and writing—inspiration.
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