The Design Inspiration Behind Di Bruno Bros.’s Trendy New Wine Bar
Alimentari in Rittenhouse, one of Philly’s best new bars, originally started with a very different vision.
Italian flags. Bill Mignucci Jr., the president of Di Bruno Bros., wanted to put them everywhere — along with raw brick walls, steel chairs and metal dome lights. This was his vision for revamping the second floor of the Chestnut Street location, but he soon realized his ideas weren’t the sophisticated evolution the brand needed.
He brought in Cohere design and branding agency to help overhaul the space. “He sent us things, and at first it was, ‘Oh gosh, Bill, is this for a cigar lounge in your suburban basement?’” laughs Antoinette Marie Johnson, CEO of Cohere.
They compromised to make the space feel like its old-world self but also modern and fresh, playing off the cafe’s name, Alimentari — i.e., an Italian market. The built-ins filled with marketplace wares and vintage photographs remind visitors of the brand’s roots. Meanwhile, the cozy, chic lounge seating serves as a gesture of welcome — “Like they’re inviting someone into their home,” says Johnson.
The seating is designed to be movable, with “oversize hangout stations” framed by green velvet loungers by Fourhands. Backs on the cafe seats are rounded, reinforcing the idea that people are welcome to sit and stay a while.
“Mirrors are often used make a space look larger — instead, we used them to make the space feel more intimate,” says Johnson. The antiqued reflectors by Spancraft serve the dual purpose of warming up the room and making the cafe feel full. When you catch your eye-level image, “It makes it feel like people are sitting next to you.”
The built-in shelves, crafted by Laurel Architectural Millwork, feature an assortment of the carefully curated products sold downstairs — imported olive oils, artisanal pickles, the Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese book — plus photographs of family members like Giuseppe Abruzzo, who mentored the current owners.
Published as “Brave New World” in the December 2019 issue of Philadelphia magazine.