What started out as a neighborhood restaurant and passion project for founder Emily Hyland and her husband and head chef Matt has transitioned into a blossoming restaurant group with plans to expand across the country.
Their new Philadelphia location is the latest installment, located at the corner of 5th and Bainbridge. The restaurant has a quaint, homey feel, achieved through exposed brick walls, succulents behind the bar, and some teal accents peppered throughout the space. Floor to ceiling windows provide a peek onto a charming block, slotting Emmy Squared into an area known for quirky coffee shops and speciality stores.
“We are in our heart, even though we’re growing, a neighborhood restaurant and [Queen Village] really feels like the type of neighborhood that made sense for us to land in,” said Hyland.
In addition to all of their staples, the Queen Village location has two specials that are unique to Philly—the Tony Luke Jr. pizza and the Chopped Cheese Fries.
The Tony Luke Jr. is a tribute to cheesesteak pioneer Tony Luke topped with broccoli rabe, roasted garlic, bacon, hot peppers, and provolone. Although it might appear crowded and heavy, each flavors feels distinct, creating laying spice and salt on top of cheesy goodness in every bite.
As a girl who grew up on New York–style pizza, I didn’t realize what I was missing until I bit into my first slice of the over–the–top pie. The crust was delicious—the perfect balance of cheesy and crunchy. The four corner pieces were worth fighting over, as the crust made the Tony Luke far better than it would have been on a traditional circular pie. It gave it a new character, elevating it over the other pizzas Philadelphians order regularly.
When asked what drew her and her husband to Detroit–style pizza, Emily said, “One of our favorite pastimes has been eating pizza together over the years and our favorite style of pizza to eat at home together has always been square pizza cooked in a pan, so it felt like a natural gravitation.”
The Chopped Cheese Fries, a quintessentially Philly take on New York City's signature sandwich, was equally delicious. They featured Emmy Squared’s classic waffle fries, whose crisp edges and seasoning are powerful enough for a stand–alone side, which were topped with grass–fed chopped beef, red onion, bell pepper, pickles, and smokey queso. Together, these ingredients were reminiscent of a dependable cheesesteak.
Admittedly, the mountain of toppings made the fries difficult to attack, but it was most definitely worth it—mess and all. Each bite packed a punch thanks to a vibrant combination of flavors that rendered ketchup unnecessary. For fans of the Philly's staple sandwich, this fun spin on your favorite classic might make you rethink the whole Pat’s vs. Geno’s debate. Maybe one of the best cheesesteaks in the city is slathered on a pile of fries.
“In terms of making our restaurants unique, I think that it’s been really successful that we have regional specials that are unique to each location,” Hyland explained. At their Nashville location, two of the regional specials were so popular that they added them to all of their menus.
One of those items is the Huge Hot Chicken Wedge which features Nashville hot chicken, ‘Bama white sauce, chopped pickles, blue cheese, olive, cherry tomato, and ranch dressing. After just one taste, it was easy to understand what had the masses craving more. The chicken was tender, doused in buffalo sauce with a heat that was inviting, not overbearing. For people with more sensitive taste buds, the flavor could be mellowed by adding some cabbage and ranch to your bite.
Despite serving some buzzworthy pizza, Emmy Squared is probably best known for their award–winning “Le Big Matt” burger. The double–stacked Pat LaFrieda burger comes served on a pretzel bun with Sammy Sauce—a mix of mayonnaise and Indonesian pepper paste—and a side of waffle fries. From top to bottom, the burger is stuffed with pickles, American cheese, one beef patty, more cheese, another beef patty, and lettuce.
At first glance, the burger is a bit daunting, but once you get past the first bite there's no going back. The burgers are cooked to perfection and full of flavor, especially with the mayonnaise–based and slightly spicy Sammy Sauce providing the perfect touch. The pretzel bun is a perfect final touch—not too doughy, and far less prone to sogginess than the traditional burger bun.
Since coming to Queen Village, it is no surprise that, according to Hyland, “Everyone has been so warm and friendly and welcoming.” She continued, “Those are the kinds of vibes that we like to see in hospitality so it made sense that [Queen Village] is where we opened up.”
Following their Queen Village opening, Emmy Squared will soon be opening its doors in the Upper East Side in NYC and Washington DC, with plans to expand across the country.
“I never thought this would happen. The way things have changed has been like a dream come true,” said Hyland.