Stephen Starr To Take Over Serafina Spot

Serafina location at 18th and Sansom will become a Stephen Starr restaurant.

Serafina location at 18th and Sansom will become a Stephen Starr restaurant.

Serafina is going to be taken over by Stephen Starr. The Italian restaurant from New York landed with significant fanfare in 2011. It was immediately the place to see and be seen but its bloom faded quickly with lackluster and comically bad reviews. Then there was the Cliff Lee incident. And since then, the restaurant has gotten by on tourists, Rittenhouse Square lifers and its location on bustling 18th Street. According to Michael Klein, Serafina will remain open through November before Starr moves in.

Starr has not settled on a concept for the 160-seat restaurant and the Bunker LLC on the liquor license doesn’t give too much away. We’re guessing it isn’t a golf or World War I themed restaurant.

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Trinity Tuesday: A Pure Example of the Form in Rittenhouse Square

1922 Naudain St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19146 | TREND Images via BHHS Fox & Roach

1922 Naudain St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19146 | TREND Images via BHHS Fox & Roach

If we wanted to be really obnoxious about it, we should leave those kitchen-in-the-basement trinities out of the running for consideration for our Trinity Tuesday feature. After all, that makes the classic three-stacked-rooms home a four-stacked-rooms one, and somehow, “quadranity” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

But the kitchen in the basement is one of the traditional ways trinity owners have fixed the house type’s chief flaw, namely, the lack of a decent place to cook. This relatively spacious trinity near Rittenhouse Square offers the purest example we’ve seen in a while of the other main approach. Read more »

A Great Start for a Rookie Developer

1705 Pine St., before and after reconstruction. | Photos: Francesco DiCianni

1705 Pine St., before and after reconstruction. | Photos: Francesco DiCianni

It hasn’t been all that long since Frank DiCianni graduated from Drexel University in 2012. But the 26-year-old has his sights set on becoming a serious player in the local development game. His first construction project has gotten him off to a good start down that path.

DiCianni, who lives in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, had been noting with some concern the condition of the former Rittenhouse Cleaners building at 1705 Pine Street.

“A dark cloud hung over that building for eight years,” he said. After the cleaners shut down in 2007, the owner of the building and the business sold the building to a buyer from New York City.

From that point on, the building slowly deteriorated. And that worried DiCianni. One decaying building with boarded-up windows, he said, can set off “a chain reaction of not caring” among other property owners, and if the reaction goes on long enough, pretty soon an entire block becomes blighted.

So DiCianni decided he would launch his career as a developer by breaking the chain before another link could be added to it. Read more »

Once a Hot Disco, Now a Cool Opportunity

First floor, 2015 Sansom St

Once a hot dance club, this space is an office now, but it could become a chic boutique or happening cafe. Its owner is looking for a tenant with vision and creativity. | Photos: Sandy Smith

Spencer Zahn has had a knack for being in the right place at the right time throughout his career. He has helped boost the careers and fortunes of many notable musicians, artists and other creative types while himself remaining in the background.

And that’s still how he prefers it. But he is stepping out of the shadows for just a little bit to promote the space he has worked from for many years now. Read more »

Future Imperfect: SuGa Reviewed

Dumplings and Scallion Pancakes at SuGa | Photo by Emily Teel

Dumplings and Scallion Pancakes at SuGa | Photo by Emily Teel

I love the smell of SuGa. The dim warmth of it. The banquette tables that run along the wall opposite the bar, in the front of the narrow, shotgun space in the middle of Center City. I love the weird, blobby lights that hang down, casting spotlights onto those tables. There’s a drama there that I can appreciate. A sense of controlling the environment.

There’s a sheen to everything at SuGa of newness and polish and efficiency. It’s a new restaurant (not even quite three months old yet) that operates like there are 20-year grooves cut into the floor. Everything is on rails, running with a precision that would make German train engineers jealous. This place represents the culmination of decades of experience—of Susanna Foo’s return to Center City (where she got famous, where she made her name) after closing her namesake Walnut Street restaurant in 2009 and its Radnor offshoot last summer. A veteran returning to the trenches, Foo is backed up by her son Gabriel on the floor (he grew up in the restaurant industry, went to medical school, but then found his way back to restaurants again) and sous chefs Clara Park (who opened SuGa with Foo, then left) and Chris Dougherty (who stepped up when Park left) in the kitchen. There are no amateur mistakes at SuGa. Nothing happens without a reason.

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Checking In With Peter Serpico

Photo via Starr Restaurants

Over the past three years, one of the most dependably awesome things about Serpico on South Street has been the presence of the Cope’s corn ravioli. But now, for what I think is the first time, that dish is gone from Serpico’s new menu.

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New Spring Cocktails At A.Bar


While winter calls for boozier, slow-sipping beverages, the warming weather is inspiring drinks with more dilution–ones that you can drink with abandon. The theme of spring at Beverages that are either shaken, swizzled, or stirred. Bar manager Dan Hamm (formerly at 1 Tippling Place and one of the brains behind the pop-up cocktail events at Spirit Forward) has created a mix of offerings, many of which include seasonal elements.

Yes, we tried them. And yes, we came home with pictures.

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SuGa Launches Brunch

Brunch is now being served at Suga

Brunch is now being served at Suga

Susanna Foo’s Center City restaurant SuGa launches brunch this weekend. Brunch is served at the Sansom Street restaurant from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Highlights include Maryland Crab Egg Fu Yung; Creme Brûlée French Toast and Shrimp Rice Congee.

Brunch drinks include a kimchi Bloody Mary and the Lotus blossom, a balanced drink featuring vodka, Cointreau and passion fruit.

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Cops: Rittenhouse Stabbing Just Over a NJ Devils Hat

Steven E. Simminger is charged in the murder of Colin McGovern.

Steven E. Simminger is charged in the murder of Colin McGovern.

In the end, it really was all about a stupid hat.

Colin McGovern and three pals poured out of a taxicab at 18th and Rittenhouse just before 3 a.m. Sunday, looking for a hotel to crash at after a night of bar-hopping in Philadelphia.

Their path crossed, for a fleeting moment in the darkness, with Steven Simminger, who had been in the area visiting some friends.

In the space of a few moments, an encounter that should have been fleeting and unremarkable turned deadly. Read more »

Police ID Rittenhouse Stabbing Victim, Suspect

Steven E. Simminger is charged in the murder of Colin McGovern.

Steven E. Simminger has been charged in the murder of Colin McGovern.

Colin McGovern, a Bucks County native who went to Council Rock High School South, has been identified as the victim of the fatal stabbing that unfolded early Sunday in Rittenhouse Square.

The 24-year-old starred as a wide receiver on Council Rock’s football team before graduating in 2009.

McGovern’s Facebook page offers a glimpse of a life that was filled with family and friends.

A number of videos posted during the last few years show McGovern clutching a sunburst acoustic guitar, working his way through covers of Bob Marley and Green Day, or strumming along while a friend sings.

McGovern’s family could not be reached for comment. But those who knew him reacted to the unexpected news of his slaying on social media.  Read more »

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