First Look: Wm. Mulherin’s Sons

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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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High-Gloss Rustic: A Mano Reviewed

A Mano | Photo by Emily Teel

A Mano | Photo by Emily Teel

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.

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Wm. Mulherin’s Sons Is Set in Fishtown

Wm. Mulherin's Sons - Chris Painter brings Italian, pizza and a whole lot more to Fishtown.

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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Field Guide: Best Meatballs in Philadelphia

Sal's meatballs at Amis | Photo via Amis

Sal’s meatballs at Amis | Photo via Amis

Sure, we argue a lot over who has the best cheesesteak, the best pizza or the best cheeseburger in Philly. One argument we’re not having nearly enough? Who has the best meatballs. Because seriously, once we started looking into it, we realized what a ball-shaped bounty exists in this city.

Here, then, are the best of the best. Philadelphia’s best meatballs, in several different categories. Dig in.

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A Small World After All: Tredici Enoteca Reviewed

Tredici | Photo by Emily Teel

Tredici | Photo by Emily Teel

From the outside, the light spilling from Tredici’s windows was cool and white, and the glass appeared to be sweating. We could see the crowd—at the bar, clustering around the host’s stand, jamming all the tables. Inside, it was a wall of noise, like stepping into the middle of a party that’s been going on without you for a good long time. To speak to the hostess working the stand, I had to lean over and talk almost directly in her ear.

We were lucky. We snagged the only open table on the floor—an odd corner spot that was all banquette, past the curve where the front room’s bar ends and the counter seating and seats in front of the raw bar begin. The two of us could sprawl across room enough for three. Spread out. Get comfortable.

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Scarpetta Opening in the Rittenhouse Hotel

Scarpetta will replace Smith and Wollensky at the Rittenhouse Hotel

Scarpetta will replace Smith and Wollensky at the Rittenhouse Hotel

This summer, Scarpetta, a high end Italian restaurant with locations in New York City, the Hamptons, Las Vegas and Miami will be coming to the west side of Rittenhouse Square and the Rittenhouse Hotel. The restaurant will replace the Smith and Wollensky steakhouse which closed last year.

Scarpetta is run by LDV Hospitality and is described as Modern Italian. The restaurant will be a bi-level space open for lunch and dinner. LDV has more than 10 restaurant concepts stretching from New York to Puerto Rico. If the LDV name rings a bell, it might be because they had three restaurants at the now shuttered Revel Casino in Atlantic City (American Cut, Azure and Lugo Italian).

Scarpetta [Foobooz]

Matt & Marie’s Now Open in Rittenhouse

Matt & Marie's is now open.

Matt & Marie’s is now open. 

Matt & Marie’s second location has opened at 118 South 18th Street. The Italian fast-serve spot offers Italian inspired sandwiches and breakfast bites like the original but also has added baked pastas and “power bowls” to its menu.

The restaurant which adds another Center City hoagie option is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Matt & Marie’s is the first opening on the stretch of 18th Street that will be seeing Cleavers, a cheesesteak joint opening in early March and also Mac Mart’s brick-and-mortar location.

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Townsend Wentz Readies BYOB, A Mano

Chef-Owner Townsend Wentz.

Chef-Owner Townsend Wentz opens A Mano with exec chef Michael Millon

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]

South Philly’s Ristorante Pesto Wins Rachael Ray’s Pasta Showdown

Giovanni and Maria Varallo of Ristorante Pesto on the Rachael Ray Show

Giovanni and Maria Varallo of Ristorante Pesto on the Rachael Ray Show

Giovanni Varallo and his daughter Maria of South Philly’s Ristorante Pesto competed this morning on the Rachael Ray Show for Rae’s Little Italy Showdown title for best pasta. The restaurateurs put their signature cavatelli topped with lobster, crab, and shrimp against teams from New York and San Francisco.
And the winner is »

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