Local restaurants celebrate Immigrant History Month

Four immigrant-owned restaurants in the Northeast are participating in Passport PHL, an initiative designed to encourage residents to explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods and businesses.

Diverse taste: Four immigrant-owned restaurants in the Northeast are participating in Passport PHL, an initiative designed to encourage residents to explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods and businesses. JOHN COLE / TIMES PHOTO

Philadelphia prides itself by being a melting pot of different cultures. For the month of June, the city’s Department of Commerce is encouraging you to take a taste of what is cooking inside these pots.

For Immigrant Heritage Month, four immigrant-owned restaurants in Northeast Philadelphia are participating in Passport PHL, “an initiative designed to encourage residents to explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods and businesses.” For each restaurant you make a purchase at during the month of June, you can collect a stamp in your “Passport PHL booklet,” which can either be picked up at each restaurant or downloaded and printed at home. At the fourth restaurant you patronize during this month, you can receive a 10-percent discount at that location.

Here are the four restaurants participating:

Bisho’s Cafe & Bakery, 2329 Cottman Ave., is owned by Bishara Kuttab, (Bisho is his nickname). Kuttab moved to the United States from Jerusalem and has lived in the Northeast the past three years. When he opened the restaurant in June 2017, he tried to replicate the restaurants that his extended families have owned from his native land, one in Bethlehem and one in Jerusalem.

“Copy and paste,” said Kuttab. “I tried to keep it authentic as possible.”

He has traditional Middle Eastern full meal cuisines, but believes his authentic pastry selection sets him apart from other similar restaurants in the area. He specifically recommends the “knafe,” which is dough topped with “pizza cheese,” then flipped upside down so the cheese is on the bottom served with other toppings to add flavor.

Usually, the hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., but since it is currently Ramadan, hours are from noon to 1 a.m. Kuttab loves the diversity of the area and the way people carry themselves in the neighborhood.

“It’s a working-class community,” said Kuttab. “It’s a good crowd.”

At the conclusion of Ramadan, Bisho’s will hold a celebration of one year in business.

One can find them on Facebook and Instagram and @Bishoscafebakery

Buccann, 7254 Castor Ave., is owned by Sal Nunez. Nunez, originally from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, has lived in the United States for the past 45 years, and in the Northeast since 1998.

He opened Buccann in December 2016 because of the “growing Latino population inspired me to open in this area…, it needed a place like this.”

Nunez had a restaurant in Manhattan while he lived in New York City, but wanted to bring his unique flavor of Latin American cuisine and American food to Philadelphia.

“I’m Latino, but at the same time I’m American,” said Nunez. “I like to eat my rice and beans, and I like my Latin flavors…, but I also like my ribeye steaks and my New York Strip.”

Buccann is the only restaurant out of the four that has a full operating bar, which he recommends to either get a mojito, pina colada or margarita.

Hours of operation are seven days a week, midning to 2 a.m.

One can find the restaurant on Instagram @Buccann.

Pho Saigon, 6842 Bustleton Ave., is owned by Chuong Le, who is originally from Vietnam and has lived in the United States for the past 15 years.

He opened Pho Saigon in 2017, because he saw the need for a Vietnamese restaurant like his in a growingly diverse neighborhood.

Le was an engineer in Vietnam, but his family also owned a restaurant, which led to his desire to own and operate one here in the United States. He believes the Vietnamese food is unique because of the cultures it was influenced by.

“We’re lucky enough we could fuse the two best cuisines in the world in our cooking style,” said Le. “We have the freshest way of cooking of the French and the really intense heat style of the Chinese and we mix them together.”

Pho Saigon is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Villa Brazil, 6905 Castor Ave., is a family-owned Brazilian buffet run by Edinei Almeida, originally from Brazil.

Almeida has lived in the United States for the past 13 years, and opened the restaurant with his family to service the growing Brazilian population in the area. He has a diverse group of customers.

“Usually, we have a lot of American people who come here to eat as well,” said Almeida.

His mother prepares all of the food and typically makes special dishes on Sundays, which is when he said is the busiest time.

Villa Brazil’s hours of operation are daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. ••