Do you feel a little more fabulous today than you did yesterday? Perhaps it’s because a Hollywood superstar has graced our city with his presence.
Along the arc of a graph reading “Why Is My Restaurant Not Good?,” two opposite mistakes hold down either end of the bell curve. On one side, you have a good concept crippled by poor execution. On the other are bad ideas masked by a talented, passionate crew trying like hell to fight its way out of a losing situation. Between these two points falls every other reason for a restaurant to go bad: terrible food, awful service, a coked-up owner snorting away the profits, rats, that weird smell, location, location, location. But existing with beautiful, snow-white purity are the alpha and omega of reasons: Either you had a good idea ruined by thumb-fingered losers who turn all gold to crap, or you had a bad concept that no amount of earnest polishing will ever make shine.
The first one? That’s unforgivable. And the second one is Scarpetta.
So you’ve made it through Thanksgiving. Odds are pretty good that you’re home now and free of relatives and relations. So you know what you should do to celebrate? Go out to eat. Or drink. Or both.
And we’re here for you with a list of things to do this weekend that covers the spectrum from Mexican-Asian fusion to happy hour in Rittenhouse Square to more fusion–this time from Colombia, and happening at a bagel shop.
And it begins with…
The lounge at the still brand new Scarpetta inside the Rittenhouse Hotel has begun happy hour and it offers 50% off all beer, cocktails and wines by the glass. There is also a bar menu of plates and crostini ranging from $5 to $14.
The cocktails include classics and newfangled concoctions that will rotate seasonally. Look for some holiday cocktails in the next few weeks.
Scarpetta–the fancy-pants New York transplant taking over the old Smith & Wolensky space at the Rittenhouse Hotel–opened for business yesterday with a couple surprises. The entire space has been stripped of all memory of the old steakhouse’s heaviness and (let’s say…) venerability. The dinner board is short and tight, customized for Philly’s tastes (by two veteran Scarpetta chefs who have been living and working here for months in anticipation of opening day), and offers lots of options for vegetarians.
But the biggest surprise? Our Scarpetta has a bar menu–something that none of the other 4 locations have. And the chefs (there are two of them, Jon Oh and Jorge Espinoza) put it together because they quickly came to understand how important eating at the bar is in this city.
A couple days ago, we rolled out our Fall Restaurant Preview. In it, we talked about the opening of Scarpetta–the fancy-pants, double-decker modern Italian restaurant coming to the former Smith & Wollensky space at the Rittenhouse Hotel–and said that it was looking to open “in a couple weeks.”
Turns out, our estimate was right on. Because we just got word today that after some test dinners and a full run of friends and family services, Scarpetta will be opening to the public on September 28.
This summer (like all summers) was a pretty slow time for restaurant openings. We had a few big names come through on their promises to switch on the lights, but for the most part, we were eating at the same places in August that we were in June.
The autumn, though? That’s when the opening-and-closing cycle really gets going again, with some of the biggest restaurateurs in the city (Michael Schulson, Ben Puchowitz and Shawn Daragh, Jose Garces and more…) all working to get their new places open before the holidays hit.
So this, then, is the list of the restaurants (either recently opened or upcoming) that have us most excited–the dining rooms we can’t wait to sit in, and the menus we can’t wait to see. It’s going to be a big season in Philly. So here’s where you’ll all be eating in the upcoming months, starting with…
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).