- Neighborhood: Fairmount
- 2244 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA
- Phone: (215) 236-1114
- Cuisine: Italian
- Alcohol: BYOB
- Accepts Credit Cards: No
In the back, chef Michael Millon is dancing.
Not dancing-dancing (because that would be weird), but that’s what it looks like. He and his crew, the other white jackets working the line at Townsend Wentz’s new BYO, A Mano, turn and weave around each other, reaching and ducking as the floor staff crowds up against the short pass, waiting on plate after plate after plate. It’s formal, this ballet. It only looks like a disaster happening and then re-happening every second, a series of near-misses and almost-collisions. It’s a culinary galliard—chaotic but measured. Practiced. Natural. In reality, it’s just another day at the office.
And at A Mano, it’s loud in the dining room. I’m seated about halfway down the banquette that runs the length of the far wall, so there’s no way I would’ve heard them if they were talking anyway, but I’m watching pretty closely (staring, really), and I don’t even see them speak. Don’t see lips moving or heads turning except in the simplest, most terse nods and single syllables.
There’s something familiar about the freshly opened A Mano in Fairmount.
It’s not the space. The corner of 23rd Street and Fairmount was, for ages, occupied by a little grocery shop, not a restaurant. It’s not the food either. Michael Millon’s menu is definitely an Italian departure from chef-owner Townsend Wentz’s French-focused offerings at Townsend on East Passyunk. The thing about A Mano that’s familiar is the format: a BYOB with handsome wooden tables, a long banquette, an open kitchen, and a big mirror to bounce light from the bank of windows. Honestly? A Mano could be Will or especially Noord, minus Bob Moysan’s artwork and plus about 20 additional seats.
Townsend Wentz has received a ton of accolades at his East Passyunk Avenue restaurant Townsend (#5 on the new Best Restaurants list), and he will debut his second restaurant, A Mano in coming weeks. A Mano is a casual Italian BYOB at 2244 Fairmount Avenue, in the Fairmount neighborhood. Wentz is bringing in Michael Millon as executive chef. Millon has worked with Wentz for ten years, including as Wentz’s opening sous chef at Townsend. More recently, Millon, a Lansdowne native, has been at A Voce, a Michelin-starred Italian restaurant on Columbus Circle in New York.
A Mano will offer regional Italian fare, moving from northern to southern Italy throughout the year to reflect what is fresh and available in Philadelphia. When the restaurant opens this winter that means dishes inspired by northern Italy including Alto Adige. As the weather warms, southern Italian dishes will make up more of the menu.
Handmade pastas will be integral to the menu where prices range from $8 to $28 per plate.
A Mano’s dining room features big windows that open wide to the street, plus wood topped tables (no tablecloths here), hardwood floors and bright grass-green banquettes.
A Mano [Foobooz]