NoLibs Gets a New 200-Seat Italian Restaurant and Attached Pizzeria

Plus, Milkboy has a new chef, Art in the Age does coffee, and we say our final farewells to Vickers in Chester County.

Figo Restaurant | Photo by Society Hill Films

Howdy, buckaroos! And welcome back to the Monday Round-Up. We’re kinda light on restaurant news this week, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a little something for pizza-lovers, coffee fans, the Main Line crowd and all you crazy cats up in NoLibs.

So let’s get at it, shall we? I’m gonna start with …

200 New Seats in NoLibs

A couple weeks back, we talked about the two new projects GLU had working on Northern Liberties Restaurant Row. At the time, these places were just a twinkle on the distant horizon, their patios being used to host summertime pop-ups in hopes of building up a little buzz.

But those carefree days of summer are behind us now. October is well and truly here and the changing of the seasons marks a winding down of those hot afternoon cocktail hours. And even though the 60-seat Leda and the Swan pop-up that GLU Hospitality had running in the patio spaces once commanded by Wahlburgers and Darling’s Diner is gone now, what it has made way for are the 200-plus seats that GLU is bringing to the neighborhood this week with the side-by-side openings of Figo Ristorante and Figo Pizzeria at 1033 North 2nd Street.

Figo Ristorante is doing fancied-up Italian with handmade pastas and craft cocktails, with seating in the bar, lounge, dining room or on the covered patio that stretches around three sides of the space. There’s chicken parm and cannoli dip, bucatini with homemade meatballs and roasted garlic ricotta. The Pizzeria next door is GLU’s former ghost kitchen concept gone brick-and-mortar, offering fast-casual Italian sandwiches and fresh-made pizzas (which can also be ordered next door).

It’s a big swing for GLU (which now has 13 concepts up and running) and a big addition to the NoLibs restaurant scene. Figo Pizzeria will be open for lunch and dinner, from noon to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Figo Ristorante will be dinner-only, with service running from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the same days. Both are opening to the public this Friday, October 15th, and Figo Pizzeria is celebrating with a ribbon cutting and free slice giveaway (one per person, don’t get grabby) from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. So if you’re in the area this week, check ‘em out.

Moving on …

Saying Goodbye to a Landmark

Like the saying goes, whenever God opens a 200-seat modern Italian ristorante and attached fast-casual pizza joint, he closes a 50-year-old fine-dining bistro.

Wait. Did I get that right? Whatever. Close enough.

If you’ve got fond memories of dining at Vickers Restaurant in Exton and want to go live it up one last time, I’d be quick about it because after nearly five decades of operation, the restaurant that hosted both Richard Nixon and Hall & Oats is shutting down.

Here’s what long-time proprietor Arturo Burigatto had to say:

“I want to offer a note of thanks for your patronage and friendship not only over this past year, but for the nearly half a century since Vickers first opened. Your support of our restaurant has encouraged us to constantly strive to provide you with the best atmosphere, the most delectable food, and an experience of celebration every time you walk through our doors.

Along with my staff and my family, we thank you, most of all, for making this restaurant a success and a familiar place to share in your lives. From weddings to anniversaries, Ferragosto and Bastille Day celebrations to all the wonderful events in between, you have allowed us to take the rich history of this wonderful place and make our own history: one we are proud of, filled with good friends, purpose and so very many great memories.

With much anticipation, I announce we will be closing the doors to Vickers Restaurant after nearly 50 years since we opened. It is time to pass the torch and to make way for a new experience in this historic space.”

Last night of service is October 30th. We here at Foobooz HQ will be pouring out a tureen of lobster bisque in tribute.


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In Other News…

Milkboy announced a big hire this week. They’ve now got chef Yun Fuentes as their new Culinary Director. You might remember Fuentes from such restaurants as … pretty much all of them. Dude has a CV like I don’t even know what, having worked under chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten (in NYC) and Roberto Trevino (in San Juan, Puerto Rico), then coming to Philly and doing turns through the kitchens at Tinto, Village Whiskey, Double Knot, Alma de Cuba and more.

Fuentes knows his stuff, is what I’m saying. And he’s being brought in to buff out the existing menus at both Milkboy locations (on Chestnut Street and South Street), and to “oversee upcoming projects from the Milkboy brand.” Since I’m guessing they don’t want a veteran chef checking the levels at a new recording studio, that sounds to me like the Milkboy team has some more restaurant concepts in the works.

Meanwhile, for those of you looking for some meticulously crafted local coffee, there’s this: The Art in the Age tasting room at 116 North 3rd Street in Old City is (temporarily) transforming itself into a café in collaboration with Kensington’s own Moonraker Coffee Roasters.

Beginning this week and running every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through December, the Café at Art in the Age will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., serving fair-trade coffee, espresso drinks, pour-overs and all that other stuff you coffee nerds are into. And while everything is available to-go (for those of you in a rush), Art in the Age is really hoping that you’ll take some time to chill in their outdoor cocktail garden and just, you know, hang out. At least until noon, which is when coffee-time kinda blurs into liquor-time and Art in the Age starts slinging their specialty cocktails.

Speaking of getting drink-y, last week we had all the news about Stephen Starr’s new Fishtown Mexican restaurant, LMNO. This week, we can announce that Neshaminy Creek Brewing Co. has pitched in with an exclusive collaboration beer that is only being served at LMNO.

It’s a Mexican-style lager, designed to pair with the restaurant’s Baja Mexican cuisine (and to be used in the house michelada menu), but my favorite thing about it is the name.

They’re calling it El Emeno.