Attorney Joseph Santaguida‘s clients have included some of Philadelphia’s most notorious defendants, from “Skinny” Joey Merlino, who considers the South Philadelphia born-and-raised Santaguida to be a father figure, to founders of the Junior Black Mafia. And now he can add to that list Alex Capasso, the Philadelphia chef whose July arrest in a child pornography sting continues to stun the local restaurant community and his partners in Rittenhouse restaurant Crow & the Pitcher. Read more »
There’s an old saying that goes: There’s no such thing as bad publicity. We’re not entirely sure who coined that phrase, but we’re fairly certain they never contemplated the dilemma faced by acclaimed Rittenhouse restaurant Crow & the Pitcher, whose chef-partner Alex Capasso was arrested on July 20th, facing horrific child pornography allegations. Read more »
He trained under Georges Perrier at Brasserie Perrier, opened Blackbird Dining Establishment in Collingswood to great acclaim, then came back across the river to open Crow & The Pitcher in Rittenhouse in the spring of 2014.
Now, Alex Capasso is in jail, charged with one count of distribution of child pornography, and the allegations against him (first reported this afternoon by the Philadelphia Inquirer) are seriously disturbing.
If you want to know the details (and trust me, you probably don’t want to know the details), Victor Fiorillo has laid them out over on the Phillymag news blog. Here, we’re mostly concerned with the restaurant side of things.
From what we’ve read and heard, it seems that Capasso has actually been missing from Crow & The Pitcher for the past week or so, and the crew has been carrying on without him. And right now, the restaurant remains open under the command of the remaining crew–something they’ve apparently gotten accustomed to.
For food-obsessed Philadelphians, the first half of August unfolded like a rigged game of Two Truths and a Lie. In case you were down the Shore, let’s play. Pick the fib: The Ritz-Carlton turned over 10 Arts to a barbecue pit-master for a night; chef-cum-doughnut mogul Michael Solomonov came out in the New York Times as a self-described “crackhead” during Zahav’s early days; and Georges Perrier did a three-night gig at a restaurant that serves deep-fried pickles and a “Cool Ranch Dorito Omelette.”
Now, you already know the game’s fixed. All three are the God’s honest. But still, Georges Perrier—Georges “I declare war on Steve Starr” Perrier—moonlighting in a kitchen that crumbles junk food into the eggs? Well, that casts Le Bec-Fin’s legacy in an unexpected light.
The highbrow/no-brow tug-of-war has been playing out in Philly since at least the 2004 debut of Barclay Prime’s $100 cheesesteak, but Crow & the Pitcher (which marks chef Alex Capasso’s return to Philadelphia after seven years operating Blackbird in Collingswood) is our first restaurant to carry the yupster embrace of cognitive dissonance to what you might call a post-ironic stage.
Alex Capasso quietly opened his Rittenhouse Square restaurant, Crow & The Pitcher on tax day. The revamp of C19 makes the space more rustic with pub tables in the front and a more formal dining area beyond the bar. Capasso’s old boss Georges Perrier was hanging out when we swung by to grab a copy of the opening menu. The menu ranges from $6 for a salad with Boston lettuce to $28 for a rib-eye steak.
The restaurant and bar will be open Tuesday to Sunday, from 4:30 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Over the summer chef Alex Capasso transformed his Blackbird Dining Establishment into Benny’s Burger Joint, a much more casual operation for Haddon Avenue in Collingswood. At the time he promised to bring the food from Blackbird to Philadelphia stating, “Collingswood has been great to me over the years”, says Capasso, ” but I think Blackbird would be best suited in a more urban setting”.
Now according to Michael Klein, Capasso has that urban setting. Capasso is taking over the former C19 at 267 S 19th Street. Look for the still unnamed restaurant to open in January.
This weekend the former Woolworth’s in Collingswood that housed Blackbird Dining Establishment has given way to Benny’s Burger Joint. Alex Capasso is still the owner but has swapped out fine dining for burgers, shakes, fries, 80s video games and a jukebox.
The menu features half-pound Angus as well as turkey and veggie burgers. Also on the menu are tuna sandwiches, grilled or crispy chicken and what has to be the signature sandwich; the Phony Luke’s a burger topped with roast pork, caramelized onions, provolone and broccoli rabe.
In an email today, chef Alex Capasso told his customers that he is moving Blackbird Dining Establishment from Collingswood to Philadelphia. Capasso says “Collingswood has been great to me over the years but I think Blackbird would be best suited in a more urban setting”.
Capasso isn’t leaving Collingswood entirely. Benny’s Burger Joint will take over 714 Haddon Avenue and the spaces formerly occupied by Blackbird and Capasso’s other restaurant, West Side Gravy. Benny’s Burger Joint aims to open in late July.
No opening timeframe or location has been revealed for Blackbird on the Philadelphia side of the Delaware. And of course there is that pesky other Blackbird in Philadelphia. The vegan pizzeria.
Blackbird Dining Establishment [Official Site]
Is it just us or have restaurant weeks become as ubiquitous as department store sales? Don’t know what we mean? Take a look over in Jersey, where Collingswood Restaurant Week ended Saturday and the SJ Hot Chefs’ Fall Harvest Week began the next day. One Collingswood restaurant – we’re looking at you, Alex Capasso – is opting to make one prix-fixe menu do double-duty for the duration.
Okay, to be fair, that one restaurant (Blackbird Dining Establishment) is the only C-wood restaurant to participate in the SJ Hot Chefs consortium. But even though it’s nice to celebrate the local farmer, the independent restaurateur, the bounty of the season and blah blah blah, we’re seriously starting to look at our watches to see when the whole thing reaches a saturation point.