Woodfired oven at Wm. Mulherin’s Sons | Photo by Michael Persico
Wm. Mulherin’s Sons is the best-smelling restaurant I’ve been to all year.
It’s pretty, sure. Big, new, shiny, polished, fitted out with rich woods, artisan tile and carefully preserved architectural flourishes. But when you’re playing at this level, who isn’t pretty? Packaging matters. Every crack in the walls, every scuff on the floor or scab of tarnish on metal is as deliberate as the gleam on the walnut tables (as though the trees were grown to no other purpose than to be made into them, arranged in this order). There’s a big new skylight that lets brilliance spill in like water. The bar is long, brick-backed and achingly well stocked. The tall windows don’t rattle when the El snaps past, but you can feel it—roaring like a memory of dinosaurs and catching you right below the heart. This place has the design culture of second-gen hipsterism in its bones.
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Potentially edging Charlie Was A Sinner out for most esoteric restaurant name in town is Fishtown newcomer, Wm. Mulherin’s Sons. The restaurant takes its name from the facade of the building itself, a 1890’s whiskey blending and bottling facility just across from the El Bar and the Good Spoon Soupery at Front and Master.
Together, the three businesses are, in fact, dead-on examples of how Fishtown is changing. The El Bar is a long-established stalwart–a proper dive bar with karaoke, live music and cheap beer. Good Spoon Soupery arrived a few years ago, a seasonally-focused food business looking to set up in an area where local entrepreneurs had begun to migrate. Now, Wm. Mulherin’s Sons represents something new; the Fishtown of fresh new condos, glossy live/work spaces, and that particular Mumford & Sons aesthetic of a perfectly worn-in vintage leather jacket. It’s an ethos that matches the old and industrial with the fresh and new already on display in La Colombe’s distillery and cafe and in the very bones of what Kensington Quarters does. Fishtown is so hot with development that it’s only fitting that someone add a wood-fired pizza oven.
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Wm. Mulherin’s Sons – Chris Painter brings Italian, pizza and a whole lot more to Fishtown | Photo by Michael Persico
Wm. Mulherin’s Sons is set to officially open this Thursday, March 31st. The 101-seat Italian restaurant and four-room hotel (opening in June) is situated under the El in Fishtown, at the corner of Front and Master Streets. Named for the family-owned 19th century whiskey blending and bottling factory that occupied the building, it has been impressively redeveloped preserving the original character and decor. The restored elements include the terra-cotta exterior signs, wood-framed arched windows, the original vestibule and even the company’s safe, repurposed as a coat room and closet. Local craftsman have admirably filled in the gaps, creating a brand new restaurant that feels like it has been there forever.
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Ground floor changes coming to Chestnut Street.
It was a surprise to many when Chris Painter closed his semi-eponymous restaurant off of Rittenhouse Square. Luckily for fans of his cooking, he won’t be out of the kitchen for long. Painter has signed on as a partner with Method Hospitality, an offshoot of the ROOST Apartment Hotel brand that’s been founded by Randall Cook and real estate developer, David Grasso. ROOST hotels feature apartment like settings for extended stay guests. Catering to contract workers, the recently separated and others who may find themselves looking for a modern, attractive and fully furnished apartment. Where Painter comes in is in creating comfortable food concepts that fit with ROOST’s brand. Cook wants the first floor retail spaces of his hotels, including the just opened ROOST at 1831 Chestnut Street, to be enhance the hotel experience.
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While we were on our year-end break the hospitality industry saw several closures and changes.
The biggest news is that Il Pittore will close after service on Saturday, January 9th. The restaurant has been a partnership between Stephen Starr and Starr’s former culinary director, Chris Painter. The restaurant has received critical acclaim since its 2011 opening and was recently included in Philadelphia magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2016. According to Alex Tewfik of Eater, Painter is planning to leave the Starr universe and to go it alone. As for the Il Pittore space, which was formerly Noble, Eater says plans are already in motion to reconceptualize the space.
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On Saturday May 9th, il Pittore and Malvira Wines will join forces to host an Almost Midnight Madness dinner at the restaurant. The dinner will include four courses prepared by chef Chris Painter paired with wines produced by Winemaker and Owner, Roberto Damonte, who will be on hand.
What makes this wine dinner a little different is that reservations begin at 11 pm and il Pittore will seating until midnight. Space is limited and guests should call to reserve their seats: 215.391.4900.
The cost of the dinner is $110 per person (not including tax/gratuity).
Check out the menu for Almost Midnight Madness
Pasta at Il Pittore | Photo courtesy of Starr Restaurants
For all of Philadelphia’s culinary diversity — and from Bustleton Avenue’s new Moldovan spot to Indonesian fare in Point Breeze, we at Foobooz are big believers — this is still a city where Italian restaurants rule. Read more »
Fish, fish and more fish! But we’re certainly not complaining.
Especially not after drooling over the pictures of Il Pittore chef Chris Painter’s addition to our summer recipe roundup. Down the shore, you’re likely to get the freshest seafood straight off the boat. So why not take advantage of it? Painter’s Flukin’ Foil sounds like something to try after a long day of fishing, or even just sunning on the beach. Extra kudos to those who use their own catch, but Jersey has some pretty good fish markets in case you weren’t so lucky with your line.
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Starting this week until the end of the summer, Il Pittore will introduce a new menu dedicated to the hot season and all of its offerings. Chef Chris Painter, who was just awarded Best Chef by Philly Mag’s Reader Poll, is taking advantage of the summertime produce in his Pennsylvania and New Jersey Farmers’ Menu. Using products from Green Meadow Farms in Lancaster and other local PA and NJ farmers, Painter will create a 4-course tasting menu.
Guests will start with a Chilled Cucumber Soup, followed by Pennsylvania Pride Beef Ravioli (see picture), Striped Bass, and, to finish it all off, Peach Upside-Down Cake.
Guests are encouraged to make early reservations because each night, there are only 20 available dinners. The menu is priced at $45.
Il Pittore [Foobooz]