When the drinks are better than the actual food
Nicole and I finally went to SquareBurger when it was actually open, as the weather that day was only overcast, not raining. We shared a cake shake and a regular hamburger. While the hamburger was very juicy and delicious, the small size of it was not worth the $5 we paid (it was smaller than the size of my palm!). I also like that it’s somewhat more squarish than typical round burgers–the shape makes it more interesting. The Cake Shake, on the other hand, was very good and unique. It’s a vanilla milkshake with Tastykake cake pieces in it. The texture of the cake meshed really well with the creaminess of the milkshake, but the price is still a little steep for the food. Overall, SquareBurger is a ★★★1/2 for me.
The following is what Nicole has to say:
“Another brainchild of Stephen Starr, Squareburger had high expectations in my mind. I had read on blogs before we went that the Cake Shake was fantastic, so that was definitely something I wanted to try! After trying it, I can say the reviews were pretty spot-on. The Cake Shake that Qingxin and I split was quite good. I loved the fact that they used fat boba straws, the perfect conduit for the milkshake’s combination of sweet vanilla ice cream and Butterscotch Krimpets. The flavors played off each other quite well in the thick shake. The burger was tasty, but unbelievably small (it easily fit in my palm) for the rather high price of $4.75. The meat was savory, yet the patty was incredibly thin. No out-of-the-ordinary toppings, but I think that’s the draw of the place. It’s a simple, no-nonsense place serving up decent (overpriced) burgers to satisfy the mild taste buds of the countless children visiting the park with their families. But then, isn’t Starr all about the atmosphere of his places? In reality, I may have been happier visiting McD’s and getting a burger there for a quarter of the price. ★★★”
Since half a burger and half a shake each weren’t enough to fill us up, we went to Zavino next. I had heard great things about their pizzas, so I was very excited to try this place. I was immediately pleased by the taste of their “still” water. It’s the best water that I’ve had in Philadelphia and maybe in all of my experiences, too, as it was extremely smooth, crisp and clear, and tasted very clean and refreshing. I was so impressed by the quality of their water that I emailed them after my dining experience and learned that they filter their own water using Everpure filters. Nicole and I only ordered the Diavolo pizza, which was okay. The pepperoni wasn’t really spicy, as advertised, and the meat was so thin that it didn’t even taste like anything. The dough was somewhat too burnt/charred, so it was somewhat bitter at times. It also wasn’t salty enough. Overall, Zavino’s is ★★★1/2, mainly for their amazing water.
“Ohhhh, the water. It was amazing. The taste was clean and crisp. It was absolutely pure; I could have been drinking straight from an untouched mountain spring. I must say this is the best water I’ve had at a restaurant in Philly by a landslide. Isn’t it funny how I remember the water more than the pizza? The Diavolo pizza we ordered tasted pretty standard. It was good, but nothing spectacular. Granted, we had ordered a pretty standard pizza (spicy pepperoni, fior di latte, crushed tomato, chili flakes, oregano, and parmigiano reggiano), so that may have been our fault in ordering if we were expecting something out of this world. It could have been spicier; to me, the sauce slightly overpowered the rest of the toppings. The crust was burnt in some places, but added to the rustic wood-fired charm of the pizza. After my pizza experiences in Philly so far, I’ve come to the realization that ordering red sauce pizzas should be reserved for standard pizza joints; when visiting these “fancier” pizza locations, the white sauce pizzas are often more unique and exhibit the chef’s culinary creativity better. I would go back for the $8 Margherita pizza Happy Hour deal. Their excellent water just put this place over the edge, though. ★★★1/2″