Three Bells for Petruce et al

petruce-940Petruce et al is the ninth three bell review for Craig LaBan this year, a number it usually takes a year to achieve. In La Ban’s review states that this effort by Justin and Jonathan Petruce is one of the best.

Petruce may well become best known for interpretations of some true basics – such as lasagna, roast chicken, and steak that are instantly among the city’s best. The hearty eight-layer lasagna, its fresh pasta ribboned with nutmeg-scented béchamel, is oven-finished to a crunch in cast iron. The simply roasted chicken brings parchment-crisp skin and juicy flesh, with creamy grits ringed by an electric-yellow sauce of slow-cooked yolk thinned by white soy and lemon.

Three Bells – Excellent

Wood-fired excellence at Petruce et al [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Petruce et al [Foobooz]

Restaurant Review: Petruce et al

Whole grilled sea bream | Photo by Jason Varney

Whole grilled sea bream | Photo by Jason Varney

Philadelphians have a lot of things to be thankful for, and one is that Justin and Jonathan Petruce aren’t trying to sell them pizza. There’s been some confusion about this. “When people hear that we have a restaurant with a wood oven and grill, the first thing they ask is if we make pizza,” says one of the brothers. “Actually, they’re more like, ‘What kind of pizza do you make?’” says the other.These are understandable assumptions. The Petruce brothers in fact wanted to open a pizza parlor. They even went to Italy, in 2010, to learn how.

“But then everybody in Philadelphia decided to open a pizza place,” Justin says.

So they just kept on cooking for other people. Between them, the Petruces have worked — occasionally together — at Mémé, M Restaurant, Fish and Little Fish. In March, they hung out a wooden shingle etched with their own name.

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Prep Day: Petruce et al, In Pictures

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They just got the ovens lit up two days ago. Last night, they did the first menu test for the servers–which, according to Justin Petruce (who’s running this namesake joint, along with brother Jonathan) did not go smoothly.

“It was kind of a shitshow,” he laughs. Not everything on the menu worked. Not everything came out on the plate as good as it sounded on paper. So today, he’s tinkering. His brother is tinkering. The whole kitchen crew is tinkering–playing with the new, wood-burning ovens and adjusting the amount of black garlic that goes with the pork and getting turnips ready to go in the oven–while, down in the bar area, George Costa tries to get the POS system working, gives up and starts buffing and polishing the floors instead.

It’s a prep day at Petruce et al. With four days left before the first paying guests come through the door, the brothers are re-thinking the menu, worrying about an inspector that’s due any minute and looking ahead to tonight when, at 6pm, they’re going to be doing another dinner–friends and family this time–where the food has to be…well, better.

Still, even with all of this going on, they let me in to snap some photos of the space, the ovens, the supplies, the prep lists, and just generally get in everyone’s way. So you wanna get an idea of what Petruce is going to look like when it opens this Friday? Then just check out the photos after the jump.

Petruce et al, pre-opening photos

Petruce Brothers Opening Petruce et al on Walnut

suzanne-roberts-storefront

Michael Klein is reporting that brother chefs Justin and Jonathan Petruce have signed a lease at 1121 Walnut Street. The brothers have both worked as sous chefs at the dearly departed Mémé and Justin was the highly regarded chef de cuisine at Fish while Jonathan was a Restaurant M and Little Fish.

The restaurant, Petruce et al will focused around two wood-burning ovens. Check out Klein’s column for another fun coincidence about the space.

Brothers opening Petruce et al on Walnut Street [The Insider]

Something Fishy

At about the time Eater was posting this story about Mike Stollenwerk’s Fish being closed Saturday, because of “issues with a few of our investors,” we received the above photo (thanks D-Mac) from the front door of Fish, stating the reason for the closure was “extreme flooding.”

Michael Klein posted on Sunday morning that Fish would be reopening shortly and expanding. But that post really created as many questions as it answered. Investor Evan Prochniak says a new venue in the Independent Hotel will be developed to serve breakfast and lunch. But before that happens, Stollenwerk will have to replace chef de cuisine Justin Petruce who has resigned citing the always intriguing, “circumstances beyond my control.”

Prochniak says Stollenwerk and him are also planning a cajun concept for the restaurant eating space at the Academy House on Locust Street. That spot is owned by Prochniak. The seemingly cursed spot is currently Jolly’s Dueling Piano Bar, but Klein reports serial-piano bar opener/closer Jolly Weldon “has left.” Speaking of Weldon, he has been running Brick at 1708 Lombard, the former location of Fish. That Fish corporation has a $22,000 tax lien against it from the state.

So somehow we’ve gone from fake flooding, to a problem with investors, to a clearing of the air with that investor and two new projects involving Stollenwerk, all in the course of 72 hours?

Pictured below, a post-it note we stuck to our rumors wall a couple of months ago.

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