A plate of vitello l’angolo suddenly appears on the dinner table. Soon, the rest of the strangers eating together receive their meals and devour their food while getting to know each other.
This scenario is what College senior Sarah Litwin had in mind when she began an intiative to bring people together over Philadelphia food.
Last Wednesday, Litwin sent out a Google form to different student groups such as PennQuest and Bloomers, inviting four or five students to a meal at a Philadelphia restaurant. The form lists more than 10 restaurants, including L’Angolo Ristorante and Talula’s Garden, that Litwin wants to visit during her last semester at Penn.
“A lot of people on Penn’s campus tend to stay inside the bubble and so I’m hoping that this initiative will help people expand their reach and try new places with new people,” Litwin said.
Litwin has always enjoyed experiencing the atmosphere and food of restaurants with friends, as College seniors Rebecca Schwartz and Natalie Weiss can attest.
“I was abroad at the same time as her, and we met in Barcelona and went to this breakfast place, and she asked the waiter for three entrees,” Schwartz said. “The waiter proceeds to show her how big the plates are and she still orders the three entrees.”
“She’ll make seven Restaurant Week reservations of various sizes and randomly starts inviting people and seeing if they’re interested,” Weiss added.
Litwin hopes to share her passion of exploring restaurants with more people through her initiative.
“I don’t see a ton of opportunities for students that have a common desire to eat together off campus.” Litwin said. “People are present when you’re eating ... It’s a really communal experience, and I grew up with family dinners being an important part of my life.”
Although anyone can participate in the initiative, Litwin states that upperclassmen and adventurous people stand to benefit the most from dining with her.
“I think it would make most sense for... adventurous people, people who either went abroad or want to go abroad, enjoy traveling, seeing things,” Litwin said. “Sometimes it’s the journey too. Sometimes I like to run to restaurants, walk back, work off the food I just ate.”
Litwin’s penchant for organizing restaurant trips led to some unusual experiences while eating out.
“We were walking back from dinner and we were pranked by a zombie on the street,” Weiss said. “The prank zombie was scaring people on the street and filming their reactions. has over six million views.”
While people who decide to dine with Litwin may not encounter a prank zombie, they will surely walk away with an adventure unlike anything they’ve ever experienced in a restaurant.
“She’s incredibly friendly with the waiters,” Schwartz said. “She actually has a note on her phone. But at Copa, for example, every waiter she’s ever had she’s written down so she can go in and say ‘Bob, it’s Sarah! Remember me?’”
After all, friendliness is essential to bringing people together. And in Sarah Litwin’s mind, so is food.