- Neighborhood: Fairmount
- 2244 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA
- Phone: 215-236-1114
- Website | Facebook | Twitter
- Cuisine: Italian
- Alcohol: BYOB
- Meals Served: Dinner
- Price: $$$
- Accepts Credit Cards: No
With 2016 coming to a close, we’re taking this week to look back at the year in restaurants. And while things didn’t start off great (for starters, two of the first six restaurants I reviewed were closed before the year was done), with the spring came a turning point and the opening of some of the best restaurants of the year.
So let’s keep going, shall we? We pick things back up in March with the review of the new steakhouse that came in to take the place of Fountain at the Four Seasons…
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.