Restaurant News Roundup
BY ASHLEY PRIMIS
From a peek inside Jose Garces’s newest venture (which opens today) to new promotions (burgers and beers) to a first look at new chefs and menus and Stephen Starr’s expansion plans, we’ve got all the shifts and changes that you need to know about this month.
EXPANSION: Pizzeria Stella
What: The alcohol application sign is up in the space next door to Stephen Starr’s Stella — what was formerly Equilibrium Pilates. As in, they are going to bust through the north wall of Stella and add another dining room.
When: Should be completed by April.
Location: 420 South 2nd Street, 215-320-8000; pizzeriastella.net.
JUST OPENED: Apollinare
What: The Italian restaurant that was, just minutes ago, Vino in Piazza at Schmitds is now a ristorante with two Italian owners and an Italian chef.
Food: The pizza counter is used to roll out homemade pastas during the day, which get tossed up in creative, authentic combinations like cauliflower torelli with an Amatriciana sauce, gnocchi with mussels and clams, and a real spaghetti carbonara with just egg, pancetta, and pepper. Thin pizzas are still on offer, as are rustic meats (boar) and fish (branzino).
Wine: They have a liquor license, but no word yet on wine offerings.
Location: 1001 North 2nd Street, 215-923-2014; apollinarerestaurant.com.
JUST OPENED: Chops
What: Alex Plotkin’s urban outpost of his suburban hotspot.
Space: Taking over the vast Oceanaire space is no small feat — Plotkin warmed the spot with Art Deco frescos and reconfigured the bar area to be comfortable and large.
Food: Steakhouse fare with a large selection at lunch, as well as the notorious ribeye steak frites (which prompts the obvious question: Will Laban review the new spot?), plus a bar menu.
Bonus: Free parking.
Location: 700 Walnut Street, 215-922-7770; chops.us
CHEF/MENU CHANGE: Devil’s Den
What: This South Philly beer-focused bar has hired an impressively credentialed chef to keep its food up to par with the brews.
The Chef: Alex Urena has cooked at El Bulli in Spain, Blue Hill in Manhattan, and Le Jardin de Sens in France, and also his own tapas restaurant, Pamplona, in NYC.
The Menu: The new menu, which was being put together in stages, is officially complete. We’ve got it exclusively here.
Food: The menu remains true to its bar-food roots, but with some really appetizing dishes. What we’ll order: Cider-brined chicken fingers; handmade gorditas stuffed with shredded braised pork, chicken, or seitan; fries covered with pork and beef chili with an IPA cheese sauce; a whole bunch of mussels or clams frites; small plates like braised octopus with potato confit; entrées like beer-braised short ribs, monkfish, and gnocchi with braised rabbit and Swiss chard. Wow. That was a big order.
Location: 1148 South 11th Street, 215-339-0855; devilsdenphilly.com.
WEEKDAY PROMO: Burgers and Beer at Bridget Foy’s
What: On Wednesdays from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Bridget Foy’s on South Street, get a burger and a beer for $10 total.
Food: Options for this deal are copious and non-discriminatory. You can get beef burgers topped with roasted chiles and pepper jack cheese or herb mayo, Gruyere, mushrooms, and a fried egg. (And standard, of course, with cheddar.) There’s a turkey burger with cranberry relish and a house-made black bean veggie burger with a pesto aioli.
Beers: Also impressive. Dogfish 60 Minute IPA, Kenzinger, Stouts Scarlet Lady, or something from one of the two seasonally rotating taps.
Location: 200 South Street, 215-922-1813, bridgetfoys.com
OPENING FRIDAY: Delicatessen
What: Formerly Kibitz in the City, this Wash West spot will stay a Jewish deli, but with a new owner and new, streamlined modernized menu. Thirty-two-year old Michael Spector has spent the last 12 years managing restaurants in NYC and Philly.
Food: Unlike the Old Testament-sized menu for most Jewish delis, this one is focused and updated. There are traditional offerings (corned beef, smoked fish) and newfangled options: cream cheese spiked with wasabi on a bagel, a Cuban-esque sandwich with corned beef on challah, brisket with onions and provolone on a hoagie roll, the Monty Cristoberg (which is a Monte with fried egg), and the Benny Rubinson, which has two poached eggs over grilled pastrami on rye topped with a Russian hollandaise sauce. Hope you have your doctor on speed dial.
Location: 703 Chestnut Street, 215-923-4560.