For One Night, Kanella Returns to Spruce Street


Kanella chef de cuisine Evan Butkovsky at COOK.

The Washington Square West neighborhood has missed Kanella since the Cypriot restaurant closed to move to Queen Village at the end of May. Chef/owner Konstantinos Pitsillides should open the new location within four weeks or so. But, WashWest is getting a taste of Kanella once again.

Kanella’s chef de cuisine Evan Butkovsky is joining up with Mercato’s Ryan McQuillan for a collaborative dinner on Tuesday, July, 28th. The Greek/Cypriot and Italian inspired tasting dinner (one sea, one people) will be held at Mercato, and will consist of three courses for $30.

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Mercato Has A Plan To Make Tuesdays Tastier

Pistachio and apricot cannoli at Mercato.

Pistachio and apricot cannoli at Mercato.

Other than Taco Tuesdays, I’m having a hard time coming up with anything exciting about the third day of the week.

See, Mondays are an activity unto themselves. Center City Sips revived Wednesdays (as did Drake Night at the Dolphin Tavern, but I suppose that’s personal), and Night Markets and Dollar Strolls help liven up our Thursdays. Come Friday, if you’re still looking for something to do, this city has about a million and a half weekend bites and activities to keep you full and busy. But Tuesdays? Sort of nada.

But wait…

Mercato Debuts New Spring Menu


Spinach Cavatelli

As the trees turn green once again, so do our dinner plates as restaurants transition their menus to lighter and brighter fare.

Mercato, the longstanding Italian BYOB on the 1200 block of Spruce Street, just introduced its spring menu, with new appetizer, pasta and meat dishes.

The new market salad includes ricotta salata, shaved asparagus, fava beans, strawberries, bibb lettuce and balsamic. Their pasta dish is a spinach cavatelli with veal ragu, pecorino romano, cream and fava beans. They also have a grilled spring onion risotto with (you guessed it) fava beans, mint, fennel, meyer lemon and pecorino romano.

Mercato also recently left OpenTable for Yelp’s reservation system. You can make reservations on their website here or give them a call at 215-985-2962.

Check out Mercato’s full menu »

Local Chef Christina Wilson Wins “Hell’s Kitchen”

Christina Wilson, former chef de cuisine at Mercato, has won the tenth season of Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen”. Wilson quit her job at Mercato towards the beginning of the “Hell’s Kitchen” season but insisted that it had nothing to do with the show. As the season champ, Christina Wilson will become the executive chef at Gordon Ramsay Steak at the Paris hotel in Las Vegas.

While at West Chester and Temple University Wilson waited tables where she began cooking by picking up lessons from the kitchen. The 32 year old Jersey native had previously cooked at Lolita and Carmine’s Creole Cafe in Havertown. She beat out Justin Antiorio in the final round of elimination for the $250,000 gig in Las Vegas.

Since she finished filming the season Wilson has said she was working on a project at the Jersey Shore, and instead she’s off for Vegas. Congratulations Christina!

Philly’s Christina Wilson wins ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ season [The Insider]

Mercato Adds Lunch

Apparently, Monday, April 16 is going to be a HUGE day for Philly’s restaurants. We already reported that this will be the grand opening date for the new Green Eggs Cafe. The 16th is also the day they’re releasing the Four Seasons / Dock Street collaboration beer (Caliente Golden Ale) and opening day for HipCityVeg (which, according to our commenters, is kinda awesome).

And now, we’ve just gotten word that Monday the 16th will also be the first day that Mercato on Spruce Street will be serving its brand new lunch menu–a lighter, smaller take on the restaurant’s traditional dinner board.

The new service will run from 11:30-2:30, Monday through Friday, and will feature paninis (like truffled wild mushroom with grilled asparagus, or fontina and grilled spring vegetables) , salads, and half-size portions of popular dinner pastas (like the lobster and shrimp pyramid). The kitchen is also doing desserts and promises to be throwing wide the dining room’s big windows on days when the weather allows.

Mercato BYOB [Official website]

Philly Cooks 2012: What Are You Waiting For?

We’ve got Brad Spence from Amis, Jeremy Nolen from Brauhaus Schmitz, Robert Aikens from The Dandelion, Jason Cichonski from Ela, Evan Turney from Mercato, Michael Schulson from Sampan, Qi Chun Mai from Sangkee, George Sabatino from Stateside, Sylva Senat from Tashan, David Boyle from Davio’s and about two dozen other chefs from some of the best restaurants in the city.

What you need? $75 and a few hours free on Wednesday, February 22nd to come out to the 33rd Street Armory at Drexel for the 2012 edition of Philly Cooks.

There’ll be food, there’ll be booze, there’ll be awards handed out for the best this and the best that and a bunch of different lounges in which to kick back and hang out. But most importantly, you’ll have a whole room full of Philly’s finest hash-slingers cooking just for you–no reservations, no maitre’d’s, nothing but fun.

So here’s your 2-minute warning: We’ve sold out our first batch of tickets, but just released 200 more with only a couple days left to move them. So get on over to the Philly Cooks website right now and grab yours before they’re gone.

Philly Cooks 2012

February 22, 2012
6:30 – 9:00 PM
33rd Street Armory
at Drexel University
Philadelphia, PA
Tickets: $75
Must be 21+ with valid ID
Philly Cooks 2012 [Official website]

No Space, No Problem for these Chefs

Felicia D’Ambrosio has an article in today’s City Paper highlighting some local chefs and how they deal with their tiny kitchens.

Among the cramped kitchens around town:

  • Cafe Estelle
  • Fond (12′ x 20′)
  • Mercato
  • Sycamore (9′ x 15′)
  • Watkins Drinkery (6′ x 8′)

Little Boxes [City Paper]

New Fall Menu Items at Mercato

Executive Chef Mackenzie Hilton has a new menu for fall at Mercato.

Among the new highlights:

  • Creamy tomato basil soup
  • Roasted portabello and arugula
  • Autumn risotto
  • Pumpkin fettucine
  • Spaghetti with octopus

Mercato [Official Site]

TV to Watch

Get those DVRs fired up, Philadelphia chefs are on the air. Mackenzie Hilton of Mercato and Eric Paraskevas of terra will both compete on Food Network’s Chopped, Tuesday at 10 pm. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Jose Garces’ next opponent on Iron Chef America has been identified. It will be Kelly Liken of Vail, Colorado. The 2010 James Beard Best Chef Southwest nominee owns two Colorado restaurants. The contest will be broadcast on Sunday, May 9th at 10pm. [The Insider]

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