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PFW Postcard: Philly's Fillies and the Eye of the Tiger

The proprietors are being demure. These are easily the best chicken wings anywhere. Which is why we've come back after discovering this hidden haunt on Walnut Street in 2009.

That's just an appetizer, though. We've brought full bellies to dinner, and I'm craving the city's specialty, a Philly cheese steak sandwich. Geno's and Pat's get all the out-of-towners' dollars, but Moriarty's version is bigger and tastier.

I hesitate to share this with you, for fear of turning this into a tourist trap, but word is already out, it seems, at least among the locals.

You almost miss the entrance to this classic Irish pub, its thin façade belying a long, narrow, capacious interior. It's standing-room-only when we arrive at 7 p.m., and the "Godfather" table in the far left corner that we occupied last time is already taken. Luckily for us, there's another one on the second floor big enough to accommodate our party of a half-dozen.

Low ceilings make even a 5'7" fellow feel the need to crouch. Framed pictures crowd one another on warm red walls, which are now also festooned with Christmas decorations. Small tables are situated so close that you can't help but nearly become intimate with strangers beside you. Dimmed lighting and holiday tunes give Moriarty's a cozy, Christmas-party-at-a-friend's-house feel.

It's even better than we remember it. Our only lament is that we can't pay more frequent visits.


It's balmy for November, even well after sunset. The air inside Moriarty's is warmer still, a fact Kara, Whitney, and I are reminded of each time a patron enters or exits. Every open door gives us a momentary chill. Kara is soothed by her vodka and club, Whitney by her Coors Light, me by their engaging company.

Whitney hails from Steeler country, on the other side of the state; Kara's a Patriots fan, lucky to have scored tickets to Sunday's game, but a bit apprehensive about braving the notoriously belligerent Philly fans.

Seated at the corner of the bar closest to the door, the girls want to talk sports. And life. And the future. Sometimes all at once.

They're inquisitive and knowledgeable and passionate, about everything, and there's never a lull in the conversation. It's difficult to discern which go quicker, the drinks or the hours. We finally say goodnight a little before 1 a.m.

It's been said, "you've got a friend in Pennsylvania." Make it a double.


philly-museum-of-art_color.jpg

Chez Collette provides an authentic, European-style breakfast – tea and chocolate French toast for me, OJ and blueberry pancakes for BLowe, fresh seasonal fruit for us both. Toulouse-Lautrec-inspired posters stare down at us with a sophisticated, almost disinterested air.

Ben Franklin would have loved dining here, Francophile that he was.

It's an Old World atmosphere that couldn't provide a better juxtaposition for the blue-collar, New World experience we're about to have, as we head down the parkway that bears the Founding Father's name. This grand avenue, lined on each side by giant flags of the world's countries, is reminiscent of Paris' Champs-Élysées, with the Greco-Romanesque Philadelphia Museum of Art, not the Arc du Triomphe, awaiting us at the end.

Last time we came to Philadelphia, we did the prerequisite tourist tasks: Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. This time, we're intent on reliving a piece of American movie history.

rocky-footprints_color1.jpg

The Rocky Statue is easy to locate, though it is now in its third location. Originally at the top of the steps of the museum, where Stallone's character triumphantly exulted after a long run, it spent time in front of the extinct Philadelphia Spectrum before going back to the Musuem property. Rocky now rests under a wooded canopy just to the right of the base of the Museum's famous stairs.

As BLowe and I approach, we spot two separate groups of friends and colleagues who've beaten us to the punch, so to speak. The spontaneous meeting makes our visit all the more enjoyable.

We bound up the stone steps, just like Balboa, then turn exultantly and face the mid-morning sun as it rises over Philadelphia. Where once the statue stood, a stone engraving with the name "Rocky" and Stallone's sneaker prints marks the spot. It's as majestic a perch as the movie portrays it.

We descend and come face-to-face with Balboa's chiseled face and physique, a masterpiece both of art and of the human form at its finest. The underdog story is still so compelling that it draws visitors from around the country and the world, even on an early Sunday morning, to this very spot, to mug for the camera and act like a movie star.

Cheesy?

Sure.

But this proud city is good with a little cheese.

Better, in fact.

erik_rocky.jpg

PHILADELPHIA – Kara has dimples that reach out and grab you, whipping your head around and screaming, "Look at me!" as they fight with her eight desultory tattoos for your attention. She is ten feet of personality stuffed into a 4'11" frame.

Whitney is considerably taller, and no less ebullient. Her dark-blonde hair, coming to rest just below her shoulders, hangs perfectly straight – not one stray strand – down either side of a smoky set of eyes and a contrastingly wholesome, girl-next-door grin.

They are in their early 20s, cheerleaders in what little spare time they have while holding down two day jobs each. Student loans demand their hard-working sacrifice.

It's Saturday night, though, and they're putting those cares aside for several hours. They've come out to talk, drink, laugh, flirt, maybe sing some karaoke. They've never been to this bustling, boisterous bar in the historic heart of Philadelphia – once our nation's capital – nor have they ever met their drinking buddy for the night.

But they warm to him right away.


rocky-iii_color2.jpg

We have at least 90 minutes to kill on the staff bus before the Patriots' convoy leaves Gillette for the airport. That's standard operating procedure on road trips. So, we always fill the void with a movie, preferably one that is in some way related to the city or region where we're headed that weekend.

Is there a more fitting film for Philadelphia than the Rocky Balboa saga? We don't think so. On this trip, we choose Rocky III – the one that introduced Mr. T and unveiled the iconic statue of the Italian Stallion.

"He'll kill ya ta death!" screams Burgess Meredith's Mickey.

"Prediction? … Pain!" T's Clubber Lang boasts.

"How did you get so tough?" Sly Stallone's Rocky asks Talia Shire's Adrian. "I live with a fighter," she replies.

"See that look in their eyes, Rock? You gotta get that look back, Rock," implores Carl Weathers' Apollo Creed. "Eye of the tiger, man."

The dialogue is cheesier than the steak sandwiches in this town, but that's what we love about both. Pile it on … we can't get enough.


Moriarty's menu makes a bold claim: Philadelphia's Best Wings.

moriartys-philly_colorcorrect.jpg

The proprietors are being demure. These are easily the best chicken wings anywhere. Which is why we've come back after discovering this hidden haunt on Walnut Street in 2009.

That's just an appetizer, though. We've brought full bellies to dinner, and I'm craving the city's specialty, a Philly cheese steak sandwich. Geno's and Pat's get all the out-of-towners' dollars, but Moriarty's version is bigger and tastier.

I hesitate to share this with you, for fear of turning this into a tourist trap, but word is already out, it seems, at least among the locals.

You almost miss the entrance to this classic Irish pub, its thin façade belying a long, narrow, capacious interior. It's standing-room-only when we arrive at 7 p.m., and the "Godfather" table in the far left corner that we occupied last time is already taken. Luckily for us, there's another one on the second floor big enough to accommodate our party of a half-dozen.

Low ceilings make even a 5'7" fellow feel the need to crouch. Framed pictures crowd one another on warm red walls, which are now also festooned with Christmas decorations. Small tables are situated so close that you can't help but nearly become intimate with strangers beside you. Dimmed lighting and holiday tunes give Moriarty's a cozy, Christmas-party-at-a-friend's-house feel.

It's even better than we remember it. Our only lament is that we can't pay more frequent visits.


It's balmy for November, even well after sunset. The air inside Moriarty's is warmer still, a fact Kara, Whitney, and I are reminded of each time a patron enters or exits. Every open door gives us a momentary chill. Kara is soothed by her vodka and club, Whitney by her Coors Light, me by their engaging company.

Whitney hails from Steeler country, on the other side of the state; Kara's a Patriots fan, lucky to have scored tickets to Sunday's game, but a bit apprehensive about braving the notoriously belligerent Philly fans.

Seated at the corner of the bar closest to the door, the girls want to talk sports. And life. And the future. Sometimes all at once.

They're inquisitive and knowledgeable and passionate, about everything, and there's never a lull in the conversation. It's difficult to discern which go quicker, the drinks or the hours. We finally say goodnight a little before 1 a.m.

It's been said, "you've got a friend in Pennsylvania." Make it a double.


philly-museum-of-art_color.jpg

Chez Collette provides an authentic, European-style breakfast – tea and chocolate French toast for me, OJ and blueberry pancakes for BLowe, fresh seasonal fruit for us both. Toulouse-Lautrec-inspired posters stare down at us with a sophisticated, almost disinterested air.

Ben Franklin would have loved dining here, Francophile that he was.

It's an Old World atmosphere that couldn't provide a better juxtaposition for the blue-collar, New World experience we're about to have, as we head down the parkway that bears the Founding Father's name. This grand avenue, lined on each side by giant flags of the world's countries, is reminiscent of Paris' Champs-Élysées, with the Greco-Romanesque Philadelphia Museum of Art, not the Arc du Triomphe, awaiting us at the end.

Last time we came to Philadelphia, we did the prerequisite tourist tasks: Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. This time, we're intent on reliving a piece of American movie history.

rocky-footprints_color1.jpg

The Rocky Statue is easy to locate, though it is now in its third location. Originally at the top of the steps of the museum, where Stallone's character triumphantly exulted after a long run, it spent time in front of the extinct Philadelphia Spectrum before going back to the Musuem property. Rocky now rests under a wooded canopy just to the right of the base of the Museum's famous stairs.

As BLowe and I approach, we spot two separate groups of friends and colleagues who've beaten us to the punch, so to speak. The spontaneous meeting makes our visit all the more enjoyable.

We bound up the stone steps, just like Balboa, then turn exultantly and face the mid-morning sun as it rises over Philadelphia. Where once the statue stood, a stone engraving with the name "Rocky" and Stallone's sneaker prints marks the spot. It's as majestic a perch as the movie portrays it.

We descend and come face-to-face with Balboa's chiseled face and physique, a masterpiece both of art and of the human form at its finest. The underdog story is still so compelling that it draws visitors from around the country and the world, even on an early Sunday morning, to this very spot, to mug for the camera and act like a movie star.

Cheesy?

Sure.

But this proud city is good with a little cheese.

Better, in fact.

erik_rocky.jpg
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