The Great Recession lingers on, but restaurants are opening in Philly at a brisk clip, with restaurateurs announcing new projects every week. We checked in with notable chefs and operators to determine which upcoming restaurants should be on your radar. Last year’s new restaurants trended toward high-end pizza and the deification of the burger; this year, casual is still king. Lower price points, gastropubs and Germans (gardens, sausages and beers) are hot, as are shareable plates, restaurants on wheels, and a surprising new dining frontier: Fishtown.
Piazza at Schmidts, 1050 North Hancock Street, Northern Liberties, 215-925-9500, speckfoodandwine.com
The Player: Shola Olunloyo, private chef.
The Concept: A casual spot serving sharable plates of what Olunloyo calls “interesting, delicious food,” priced under $24, plus 15 wines by the glass and specialty cocktails.
The Food: Expect to see items like tomato-almond gazpacho with peekytoe crab and shiso in warm weather. When temperatures cool down, dishes like potato short rib terrine with poached egg, trumpet mushrooms and curry-leaf jus will take center stage.
The Space: Clean and modern, incorporating ebony paneling and gray fabrics, with a focus on the open kitchen. Floor-to-ceiling windows face outdoor seating on the Piazza.
Our Take: Expect extreme opinions from feverish foodies who follow the chef’s StudioKitchen blog. Shola inspires debate.
The ETA: Early August*
Left Bank, 3131 Walnut Street, University City, 215-222-2422, bibawinebar.com
The Players: Jon Myerow and Michael McCaulley, -owners of Tria.
The Concept: Myerow calls this 32-seat wine bar “an antidote to stressful civilization, where you hang out and drink wine”—and talk to your fellow humans. There’s no TV, wi-fi or other technological distraction.
The Food: Twelve cheeses; a rotating selection of chocolates from Éclat and Betty’s Speakeasy; a limited menu of snacks; 26 wines by the glass, priced at $10 and under; 10 beers (nine bottles and one cask ale).
The Space: The Brett Webber Architects-designed interior has walls, bars and tables made with redwood reclaimed from Philly water towers. A custom-built outdoor patio seats 12.
Our Take: Despite its no-man’s-land location, it’ll be crowded, and you’ll be miffed there isn’t one in your neighborhood.
The ETA: August
110 South 13th Street, Midtown Village, 215-546-9300, barbuzzo.com
The Players: Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran, owners of BYOs Lolita and Bindi, Grocery gourmet market, Marcie Blaine Artisanal Chocolates, and home stores Verde and Open House.
The Concept: A 68-seat restaurant with an open kitchen and a full-service bar—a first for the duo—serving shareable plates inspired by the cuisines of Italy, France, Spain and Portugal. Dishes will max out at $20.
The Food: Chef/owner Turney will make charcuterie and pastas in-house (like tagliatelle with braised pork, favas and pig cracklings). There’s a wood-burning oven for Neapolitan pizzas topped with house-made fior di latte (Turney attended the U.S.’s only training program sanctioned by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the final word on Neapolitan pizza); it will also be used to roast meats and vegetables. Wines will be from small European producers, and the chef (who created Lolita’s killer margarita mixers) is whipping up specialty cocktails.