A long-time restaurant moratorium in Manayunk is over this summer, with three new projects in the works: Cactus Bar & Grill for Southwestern (4243 Main St.); Thai tapas at Mango Moon, (4161 Main St.), and Tomato Bistro, a cafe/lounge above the Couch Tomato (102 Rector St.).
William Douglas Steakhouse is at the starting gate at Garden State Park in Cherry Hill, complete with equestrian décor to hark back to the racetrack’s heyday. The restaurant will feature a traditional steakhouse menu created by executive chef Karen Mitchell, along with tableside desserts. The restaurant will be sharing a kitchen with neighbor McCormick & Schmick’s. William Douglas Steakhouse, 941 Haddonfield Rd., Cherry Hill, NJ.
Devil's Den, the gastro pub that’s taking over the old Felicia's at 11th and Ellsworth Streets, will open in April. Look for an approachable American menu and 16 beers on tap. Devil's Den, 1148-1150 S. 11th St., Philadelphia.
The expansion in Northern Liberties continues with a new BYOB, Swallow, in Liberties Walk. The 38-seater is owned by Jason and Cindy Caminos. Swallow, 1030 N. American St., Philadelphia. 215-238-1399,
Garlic is the name of the new ground-floor brick oven pizzeria and coffee shop opening in May at the RiverWest condos at 21st and Chestnut Streets. Owner is Victor Fellus, a partner in Old City's Soho Pizza. Garlic, 21st and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia.
Kite & Key Tavern will be the latest from Jim Kirk and Jake Hampson, bartenders/managers at Bishop's Collar. Set for the former Savannah at 1836 Callowhill St. by the end of May or early June.
Longtime restaurateur Neil Stein plans a return to the Philly restaurant scene (post his prison term for tax evasion) with Cabaret, a bistro at the Morris House Hotel (formerly Restaurant M). Estimated date is sometime in late spring or early summer.
McCormick & Schmick’s opened a Cherry Hill location March 15. Executive chef is Karen Mitchell, who plans to work with local South Jersey farmers for seasonal/local product. Tom Brewer, formerly of Starr Restaurant’s Barclay Prime, will serve as general manager of the 300-seat restaurant. McCormick & Schmick’s, 941 Haddonfield Road, Cherry Hill, N.J. 856-317-1711.
Pearl, the pan-Asian spot from owners of Red Sky, opened its doors this month. Ari Weiswasser, a Gladwyne native whose resume includes Daniel and Gilt in New York, is executive chef. Pearl, 1904 Chestnut St., Philadelphia. 215-564-9090.
Azul, with Jesse Vega in the kitchen, opens in April with a casual Mexican menu at 10th and Spruce.
Maia, after many stops and starts, should open its doors in April. Look for a restaurant/café and gourmet takeaway with an emphasis on Scandinavian and Euro fare. Maia, 789 E. Lancaster Ave.,Villanova.
Michael Solomonov plans an April opening for his modern Israeli restaurant Zahav. Zahav, 237 Saint James Place, Philadelphia.
John Mims and Howard Taylor will expand from the Main Line with Les Bons Temps, a Cajun-Creole eatery at 114 S. 12th St., the former TPDS, Odeon and Bistro Bix. Les Bons Temps, 114 S. 12th St., Philadelphia.
Chef Michael O’Halloran of Bistro 7 plans a New American menu at The Waverly, opening at 412-426 S. 13th St.
Benny Lai branched out from the successful Vietnam with the more casual 30-seat Vietnam Café. Lai’s family also owns a small deli in the area. Open Tues. through Sun. from 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m., the Café, designed by Jesse Gardner (Vietnam, Teikoku), will offer 80-plus menu items. Vietnam Café, 814 S. 47th St., Philadelphia, 215-729-0260.
Chef Alison Barshak is expanding with a second contemporary American-themed restaurant. Barshak, who cut her teeth at Striped Bass and Venus & the Cowboy in Center City before opening Alison at Blue Bell in May 2003, expects to open the second, yet-unnamed restaurant in Spring 2008. The new100-seat space is at 424 S. Bethlehem Pike, in Ft. Washington near the convergence of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and 309. It will have a liquor license and a private dining room–and guests will be able to pay by credit card, something they can’t do at the cash-and-check-only Alison at Blue Bell. Alison at Blue Bell, 21 Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, 215-641-2660.
Astral Plane Millennium is now open in the former Astral Plane space. New owner, caterer Christine Fischer, offers a global menu in modern, uncluttered surroundings (no more parachute fabric on the ceiling, sigh). Now a BYOB–the liquor license was sold with the building–APM specializes in carpaccio (beef, salmon, scallops). Astral Plane Millennium, 1708 Lombard St., Philadelphia, 215-735-0815.
If you miss Dessert, the sweet stop in Bella Vista, meet Goloso, which recently took over the tiny space. The cash only “desserterie” has an Italian accent, as in Italian pastries, imported candies and hot chocolate. Goloso, 806 S. Sixth St., Philadelphia, 215-925-1003.
Passyunk Avenue–a.k.a. South Philly’s restaurant row–now has Le Virtù, a sunflower-yellow Italian ristorante that offers homemade pasta, grilled specialties, a full bar and a Tuscan-friendly wine list. Le Virtù, 1927 E. Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia, 215-271-5626.
After 20 years with one restaurant–the well-respected Jake’s in Manayunk–restaurateur Bruce Cooper plans to open a still-unnamed wine bistro next door. No firm opening date.
Also on Passyunk, but in Queen Village, Cochon is the new country-French BYOB that replaced Cafe Sud. Just across from Little Fish, chef-owner Gene Giuffi, formerly of Davio’s, Pasion, Nan and La Boheme, powers Cochon. Cash only. Cochon, 801 E. Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia, 215-923-7675.
Fans of Minar Palace, a popular Indian eatery that used to be on Sansom near 16th Street, will be glad to learn that there are plans for another Center City location at 1304 Walnut St. Expect a winter opening.
Mitch and Jennifer Prensky, owners of Global Dish caterers, have opened Supper, a two-story New American executed by chef de cuisine Brinn Sinnott. The former Vespa store is across from Whole Foods on South Street. Supper, 926 South St., Philadelphia, 215-592-8180.
Old School Italian is the word at Pat Bombino's, in the former Meze space at Ninth and Catharine. Owners Al Paris and Matthew DiNatale put the emphasis on comfortable elegance and Italian rustic fare. There’s even a $12 plate of spaghetti and meatballs, if you want to stay really basic. Family- style dinners are served from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. on Sundays. BYOB. Pat Bombino’s, 767 S. Ninth St., Philadelphia, 215-238-6555.
Kai: Modern Japanese Cuisine is hoping to open by early December at the Academy House, the space that was formerly the Smoked Joint, and a ton of other eateries, dating back to Marabella’s. The new restaurant is from the same folks who are involved with Fuji Mountain in Center City. Kai, 1420 Locust St., Philadelphia.
Cafe Estelle should be open any minute at Lofts at 444 N. Fourth St. in Northern Liberties. Fresh baked goods, including bread and homemade comfort food, will be on the menu.
The Devil’s Den (great name!) will open at the end of the year in the space that was Felicia's (11th and Christian Sts.) in South Philly. Billed as Continental, the Den promises an ambitious beer list.
The Belgian invasion continues with Beneluxx, an offshoot of the nearby Eulogy Belgian Tavern. Owned by Mike Naessen, the concept involves pairings of beer/wine and cheese/chocolate including a serious fondue menu, just in time for chilly weather. Beneluxx, 33 S. Third St., Philadelphia, 267-318-7269.
Another place to drink your Stella: Belgian Café in Fairmont in the former Tavern on Green space. Look for Euro pub fare in the airy dining room and a lighter menu in the moody bar. Belgian Café, 2047 Green St., Philadelphia, 215-235-3500.
The latest lounge with a small plates menu to open in Old City is Triada, a stylish New American spot. In addition to the small plates selections it serves specialty cocktails and bubbly. Entertainment includes a resident DJ. Triada, 120 Market St., 215-627-2401.
Now that’s Italian. Owner Rob LaScala brought South Philly to Old City with the opening of La Scala’s, an Italian-American eatery that doesn’t skimp on sauce. Housemade pastas and the delicate veal involtini with prosciutto and spinach are standouts. La Scala’s, 615 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, 888-764-8238, www.lascalasphilly.com.
Cochon–no relation to Donald Link’s award-winning Cajun emporium in New Orleans–is now open on Passyunk Avenue’s restaurant row. Chef-owner Gene Giuffi (Davio’s, ¡Pasión!) has installed a cozy French BYO in a former corner butcher shop. Look for moderately priced bistro classics including escargots, braised lamb shank and many things pork. Cochon, 801 E. Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia, 215-923-7675.
Gaja Gaja is the latest Korean-owned sushi spot to open in town–this time on South Street. Bring your own sake to pair with this modestly priced menu of Japanese and Korean dishes. FYI–gaja gaja means “let’s go” in Korean. Gaja Gaja, 627 South St., Philadelphia, 215-923-0313.
Restaurants continue to march north on Broad Street, including the new Cobre, a casual Mexican and Puerto Rican restaurant-lounge, where the eats include potato balls filled with ground beef, octopus salad and roasted pork with tostones. Cobre, 812 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, 215-235-1881.
A bit further north on Broad Street, Koja Grille is the new bricks and mortar incarnation of a popular lunch truck, serving inexpensive Korean and Japanese specialties such as thinly sliced barbecued beef, fiery kim chi stew and mix-and-match noodles. Koja Grille, 1600 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, 215-763-KOJA.
If you’re a fan of Sabrina’s in South Philly, check out Sabrina’s Café and Spencer’s, Too in the city’s Fairmount ‘hood. The menu shares the same inventive stuffed French toasts, seasonal pancakes and juicy burgers. Sabrina’s Café and Spencer’s, Too, 1802-1804 Callowhill St., Philadelphia, 215-636-9061.
Another South Philly spot–L’Angolo Restorante Italiano –has spawned a sibling, Salento, a BYOB spot on Walnut Street specializing in Puglia fare such as homemade semolina pasta, spiedini (lamb loin skewers) and lamb sausage. L’Angolo Restorante Italiano, 1415 W. Porter St., Philadelphia, 215-389-4252.
Franco’s Trattoria has opened in East Falls. The former Verge, along Kelly Drive, is serving simple classics such as chicken Piemontese, tableside-filleted branzino and tiramisu on its pleasant river-facing patio. Franco’s Trattoria, 4116 Ridge Ave., Philadelphia, 215-438-4848.
Modo Mia in Northern Liberties is a new Italian BYOB by Peter McAndrews, formerly of Rembrandts. Modo Mio combines two of Philadelphia’s staples, Italian and small plates, nothing more than $16. Modo Mia, 161 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia, 215-203-8707.
City Grange in the Westin Hotel, a restaurant faithful to regional and sustainable American food, plans a soft opening August 6 and a grand opening early in September. Chef Chris Lichtman–last of The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia and Hudson Valley Resort & Spa–heads the kitchen. The restaurant’s inspiration comes from The National Grange Movement, the nation's oldest grassroots agricultural organization, founded in 1847. City Grange, The Westin Philadelphia Hotel at Liberty Place, 99 South 17th St., Philadelphia, 215-575-6930.
Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney, the prolific pair behind Grocery, Lolita and Open House, will open Bindi, a homestyle Indian sit-down, in Grocery's café side come mid-fall. They'll tap local farmers for many ingredients, and plan an exotic juice list to complement the BYOB policy. Bindi, 105 S. 13th St., Philadelphia.
Bistro Juliana is the latest from Luigi Basile and Massimo Coscia, of Radicchio Cafe in Old City. The pint-sized BYOB mirrors Radicchio’s understated Italian cuisine. Bistro Juliana, 2723 E. Cumberland St., Philadelphia, 215-425-2501.
Global Dish Caterers plans an August opening for Supper, a stylish South Street New American restaurant. Housed in a former Vespa store (obviously a tough sell in Philly, the one in Manayunk closed, too), the plan is a modern turn on classic favorites. Supper, 926 South St., Philadelphia.
The Belgian Café, a spin off of Monk’s Cafe in Center City, should open any time now in Fairmont's former Tavern on Green space at 21st and Green streets.
Finally, life again in Fairmount’s long shuttered Cuvee Notredame at 17 and Green. St. Stephens Green is an Irish pub conceived by veterans of Bishop’s Collar and the Dark Horse. St. Stephens Green, 1701 Green St., Philadelphia, 215-769-5000.
L’Oca is a great addition to the Fairmount neighborhood, thanks to the inspired northern Italian creations of chef Luca Garutti, a veteran of La Locanda del Ghiottone and Ristorante Panorama. Specialties include classic bagna cauda, minestrone soup, saffron spaghetti with prosciutto and thick ribbons of pappardelle laced with “l’oca” (Italian for “goose”) ragu. L’Oca, 2025 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia, 215-769-0316.
Tria just opened its second location with nightly servings of small plates and cheese along with a terrific wine and beer list. Look for a lunch opening in September. Tria, 1137 Spruce St., Philadelphia, 215-629-9200.
National Mechanics Bar & Restaurant is the latest to take over the 19th century Old City building of the same name. Formerly home to the odd dance club, the new tenant is more pub than club, with a serious beer list and a menu of typical pub favorites. National Mechanics Bar & Restaurant, 22 South 3rd St., Philadelphia, 215-701-4883.
Tavern 17 is the newly conceived lounge in the Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel Philadelphia. Small plates and cocktail, beer and wine flights are featured on the New American menu. There’s also a 1,200-bottle wine room and 34 wines by the glass. Tavern 17, Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel Philadelphia, 1701 Locust St., Philadelphia , 215-790-1799.
Palace at the Ben at the historic Benjamin Franklin House is the new upscale, Punjabi-style Indian restaurant by the owners of Palace of Asia. Palace at the Ben, 834 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, 267-232-5600.
Fish is in, steak is out as Phillips Seafood of Maryland takes residence at the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel, replacing Shula’s Steak House. Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel, 17th & Race Sts., 215-448-2700.
Chef Matt Ito finally opened Fuji, his Japanese BYOB in its new Haddonfield, N.J. location. Like his original in Cinnaminson, there’s a sushi bar and an omakase chef’s tasting menu. Fuji, 116 Kings Highway E., 856-354-8200
Soup for you! The Original SoupMan—a spin off of Seinfeld’s soup Nazi, is now open at 512 Haddonfield Rd., Suite B in Cherry Hill, N.J. 856-486-4848.
L'Angolo owners David and Kathryn Fauna are working on a second Italian BYOB—Salenta, at 2216 Walnut St., in the space that formerly housed Feline Cafe. Salenta is the name of David Faenza’s hometown in Southern Italy. No opening date yet. L'Angolo, 1415 Porter St., 215-389-4252.
Aprons will be the latest BYO in Germantown with a menu that melds its partners' African-American and Italian heritages. The space was previously home to Geechee Girl Rice Café, which has moved up the way into larger quarters at 6825 Germantown Ave. Aprons, 5946 Germantown Ave., 215-843-5080.
Four new quick service grab-and-go dining options have debuted at The Pier Shops at Caesars in Atlantic City. They are: Eden Gourmet, a fresh Italian market concept; Giorgio's Café with pizzas (from classic Margherita to Hawaiian), exotic smoothies and frozen yogurt treats; Phillips Seafood Express, seafood on the go including a hearty boardwalk platter featuring a jumbo lump boardwalk crab cake and crispy shrimp; and Piazza di Giorgio Café, a casual option for salads, cheese steaks, paninis, gyros, wraps, and hoagies. The Pier Shops at Caesars, One Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic City, www.thepiershopsatcaesars.com.
Triumph Brewing Company expands from its Princeton and New Hope locations with a new outpost in Old City. The restaurant includes two floors of casual, eclectic dining (pizza and burgers with gourmet toppings, organic salmon, steak frites, panini), with brewmeister Jay Mission in charge of eight varieties of beer on the second-floor brewhouse. Open for lunch and diner. Triumph Brewing Co., 117-121 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, 215-625-0855.
The Marriott in West Conshohocken is now home to Shula's 347 Grill. Formerly the Regatta Bar, Shula’s 347—the number equates to coach Shula’s wins—is an up-market sports bar with a steak-centric restaurant next door. Shula’s 347 Grill, 111 Crawford Ave., West Conshohocken , 610-941-5600, www.donshula.com.
Marathon Grill, a family-owned casual fresh American restaurant, opened its seventh location at 10th and Walnut Streets, in the heart of Midtown Village, the latest moniker for the surrounding Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital. The 120-seat, two-story space serves casual fare, along with dinner entrees such as grilled New York strip steak or chicken saltimbocca. Marathon Grill, 10th and Walnut Streets, Philadelphia, 215-733-0311, www.marathongrill.com.
Brandywine Prime, Seafood & Chops is open in the former 300-year-old Chadds Ford Inn. The restaurant is featuring locally raised, dry-aged beef, a vast raw bar and inventive dishes such as coffee-encrusted venison loin and whole Maine lobster with fennel risotto by well-known Delaware chef Dan Butler. Brandywine Prime, Seafood & Chops, Rte. 1 at Rte. 100, Chadds Ford, 610-388-8088, www.brandywineprime.com.
Osteria is the newest venture from Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin, a rustic Italian situated on the ground floor of a new loft building, just north of Spring Garden. Osteria, 640 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, 215-763-0920.
Look for a May opening for the still unnamed Japanese restaurant going into the Academy House (1420 Locust St.), a project of Jonathan Chun, who owns Fuji Mountain on Chestnut Street. Instead of the usual sushi bar or teppanyaki joint, Chun’s place will feature the formal dining style called kaiseki, which spotlights seasonal, local cuisine in as many as nineteen courses. He plans no more than nine. The Smoked Joint was the last restaurant in the space.
For diners still in mourning since the exit of Bryan Sikora and Aimee Olexy from Django, the pair have surfaced in Chester County at Talula's Table, a homey market with pastry chef Claire Shears’ housemade baked goods, along with house-cured charcuterie, artisan cheeses and prepared foods. Most of the business is takeaway, but there is a ten-person farmhouse table that can be reserved at dinner. Talula's Table, State and Union Streets, Kennett Square, 610-444-8255.
707, a project from Starr-alumnus Ryan Margolis, is set to open mid-April. The American café is yet one more project going in around the hot Washington Square neighborhood. 707, Chestnut St., Philadelphia.
Bill Wood, who spent the last three decades making Woody’s Bar the hottest gay bar in town before selling the business in 2006, is collaborating with his brother Steve on a new restaurant at 12th and Locust. Dubbed Knock, a reference to an Irish shrine, the eatery will be a lounge/restaurant with international cuisine. The project is just getting under construction.
A Garden of Delight
“Horizons: New Vegan Cuisine” is the just self-published tome by Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, owners of Horizons off South Street. The book spotlights 80 vegan recipes for everything from appetizers to desserts. Horizons, 611 South 7th St., Philadelphia, 215-923-6117, www.horizonsphiladelphia.com.
Stephen Starr launched a catering division, Starr Events, available for private, social and corporate events. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Night Owl Nibbles
Ansill, which just marked its second anniversary, has a new late night menu, Mon.-Sat. 10 p.m.–1 a.m. Bites include steak tartar ($12), house-cured salmon ($9) and 6 oysters for $14. DJs Jolah & Argo spin jazz, bossa, soul, funk and classics every Monday, Thursday and Saturday starting at 9:30 p.m. No cover charge. Ansill, 627 S. Third St., Philadelphia, 215-627-2485.
San Pellegrino's 'Almost Famous Chef Competition'
Laid Back Menu with Franco Style
In the Stars
Changes for Chaddsford
From Miraku to Misso
Perrier Launches Catering Company
Stogey Joe’s to Open
David Katz to Open Bistro
Sundays with Soul
From Soul Food to Santorini
Bento Box Lunch at Buddakan
Menu Redo: From Med to Bistro
Bargains on the Menu
A Taste for Charity
13th Street Crowd
New Fall Menu
Crudo at Positano Coast
Stella Blu Makeover
Monday Meatball Madness
New Resto Plans
Culinary Crayon Creations
Guillermo Pernot Caters to the Lunch Bunch
Le Bec-Fin a la Carte
A Delicious Anniversary
Contemporary Jewish Cuisine for the Holiday
A Taste of Summer
A Bargain from the Deep Blue Sea
Sushi at Bookbinders
Bargain on a Bun
Dining on the Setting Sun
Wallet-Friendly Wine Drinking
Veggie Chef with Fresh Vibes
Raw Bar Goes International
Guanciale—Don’t Try to Say it, Just Taste it
London Grill chef Michael McNally is excited about the latest addition to his house-cured meats charcuterie board, an Italian delicacy called guanciale (pronounced “gwan-cha-lay”). Working with sous chef, Dennis Heslin, McNally’s charcuterie plate may include chorizo, duck pastrami, vegetarian salami and bresaola. Each plate is hand cut to order and served alongside an assortment of house-made mustards and chutneys. Coming up: his first house-cured prosciutto, which requires 10 to 12 months to age. London Grill, 2301 Fairmount Ave., 215-978-4545, www.londongrill.com.
Bargains in the Good Ol’ Summertime
Brasserie Perrier is offering $33 three-course dinners every Sunday, through the summer months. Choices include house-made cavatelli pasta with fresh tomato and pancetta, sautéed Scottish salmon fillet served with creamy Lyonnaise potatoes or grilled chicken paillard served with Parmesan risotto and mushroom jus. Sunday is also BYOB night at Brasserie, with no corkage fee. Brasserie Perrier, 1619 Walnut St., Philadelphia, 215-568-3000.
Let the Children Pick up their Tab
What’s In A Name?
Restaurants On The Fly
Could Have A Beef With This Deal?
Mother’s Day in a Special Way
A Chef For All Seasons
Anthony Bonett, who most recently served as executive chef at The Oceanaire Seafood Room, will handle day-to-day culinary operations at Alison at Blue Bell while Alison Barshak concentrates on opening Alison two, coming to Ft. Washington this spring. The pair opened Striped Bass together in 1994. Alison at Blue Bell, 721 Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, PA, 215-641-2660.
Chef Anthony Goodwin has exited Bliss, which was recently taken over by Chris Dhimitri. No word yet on where previous chef Francesco Martorella will land. Bliss, 220 S. Broad St., 215-731-1100.
Pamela Bower, previously of Le Bec-Fin, is the new manager at XIX Nineteen Restaurant, which also welcomes Scott Turnbull, formerly of Striped Bass, as sommelier. XIX Nineteen Restaurant, Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue, 200 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, 215-790-1919.
Brian Duffy is now corporate executive chef for Kildare’s, overseeing six locations of the privately owned Irish pub. Duffy cooks what he calls “New Celtic” cuisine. Kildare’s was ranked one of the region’s 100 fastest growing, privately held companies in 2006. Kildare’s, 509 S. Second St., #501, Philadelphia, 215-574-2995; 4417 Main St., Manayunk, 215-482-7242; 18 W. Gay St., West Chester, 610-431-0770; 826 W. Dekalb Pike, King of Prussia, 610-337-4772.
Chef David Katz (Restaurant M) is once again without a kitchen. The deal he was putting together with investor Andrew Krouk at 24th and Locust fell through. Back to the drawing board.
Joseph Dougherty, formerly of Wilmington's Hotel Du Pont, is now in the kitchen at the new Bistro M in Berwyn. Dougherty is putting out New American cuisine at the BYOB, which is attached to Murray's Deli. Bistro M, 575 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn, 610-644-1010.
From Philly to NYC to AC. That’s the path for Michael Schulson, who first honed his skills with modern Asian cuisine at Pod in University City, before opening Starr’s Manhattan version of Buddakan. He’s now at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, where he’s opening a mod Japanese restaurant with a nightlife component. It’s in the space formerly taken up by Susanna Foo's Suilan. The Borgata Resort and Casino, 1 Borgata Way, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, N.J. 609-317-1000.
New Gigi executive chef Jesse R. Vega may just be the youngest top toque in town. Hired at 21 (he just turned 22), Vega hails from Queens, N.Y., and spent time in the Hamptons before moving to Philly, where he cooked at Alma de Cuba, among others. Gigi, 319 Market St., Philadelphia, 215-574-8880.
Ben McNamara, last of New Wave Café is now in the kitchen at St. Stephen’s Green in Fairmount. St. Stephen’s Green, 1701 Green St., Philadelphia, 215-769-5000.
More of an owner-shuffle really, at Matyson’s where half-owners Matt and Sonjia Spector have sold their stake in the New American restaurant located just off Rittenhouse Square, and plan a move west. Ben Puchowitz, Matt's cousin and sous chef Brian Lofink are in charge, with Puchowitz' father, Butch, now the full owner. Matyson’s. 37 S. 19th St., Philadelphia, 215-564-2925.
The saga continues at Silk City Diner–last month saw David Katz (briefly) replacing Peter Dunmire, and then leaving–to be replaced most recently with Matt Ball, a veteran of Deuce and Aspen who will continue owner Mark Bee’s vision of comfort classics with a contemporary twist. Silk City was recently featured on the Food Network's “Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.” Silk City Diner, 435 Spring Garden St., Philadelphia, 215-592-8838.
Luis Melendez is no longer top toque at Gigi. Young chef Jesse Richard Vega is now in the kitchen. Gigi, 319 Market St., Philadelphia, 215-574-8880.
Chef Joe Poon returns to the Philly dining scene after a one-year sabbatical. Although he’s using his former restaurant at 1010 Cherry St. for private events, Poon is again conducting his popular “Wok ‘N Walk Tours of Chinatown,” teaching cooking classes, hosting private parties and cooking demonstrations. For information, call 215-500-9774 or visit www.josephpoon.com.
Dung K. “Kim” Dang is the new chef at Ly Michael's, across from the convention center. Owners Buu Ly and Michael Ly brought Billy Wong (Taste, Billy Wong’s) in as a partner, and the restaurant is now serving authentic Vietnamese cuisine. Dang is taking her first turn as a restaurant chef–she was a home cook in her native Vietnam. Pho is a specialty. Ly Michaels, 101 N. 11th St., Philadelphia, 215-922-2688.
Chef/owner David Ansill has taken over behind the line at Ansill, covering for chef Kibett Mengech who had a disagreement with management and decided to find employment elsewhere.
After 15 years at Philadelphia Fish & Co., sous chef Robert Pratt is crossing the Delaware to work in the Meeker’s other restaurant, Cork Restaurant, along with executive chef Sae An. His eponymous dish, “Robert's Cheddar Grits” will not only stay on the menu at Philly Fish–but be added to Cork’s line up as well.
Michael Powers is the new head toque at Public House Logan Square. He was formerly corporate chef for Brandywine Heritage Restaurants. Public House, 2 Logan Square, 587-9040.
Avalon, the new modern American eatery outside of downtown West Chester, has brought David Kiser onboard as executive chef. Kiser’s resume includes stints at Street Bistro in Lambertville, N.J., and Les Copains in Princeton. Kiser’s global experience includes studying at Cordon Bleu in Paris. Avalon Restaurant, 312 South High St., West Chester, 610-436-4100, www.avalonrestaurant.org.
Darryl Harmon, an alumnus of the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, is the new executive chef at the Water Works Restaurant. Augustine Cubero, who has worked the front of the house at Le Bec-Fin and The Ritz Carlton, is the new dining room manager. Water Works Restaurant, 640 Water Works Dr., Philadelphia, 215-236-9000.
Jason Goodman, formerly of Circa, Novelty and Next, is the new chef at Meritage in Center City. Meritage, 20th & Lombard Sts., Center City, 215-985-1922.
Maximo Baex Berg, a longtime fixture as a fine dining maitre’d around town, is now taking care of guests at Pond Restaurant in Radnor. Berg, whose resume includes stints at the Waldorf in New York, The Ritz in Philly and Frederick’s, specializes in tableside preparation, including flaming desserts. He’s also an accomplished baker, and is supplying Pond with custom-made cakes for special events. Pond just celebrated its first anniversary this month, with chef Abde Dahrouch commemorating the occasion with a special French-Moroccan tasting menu. Pond Restaurant, 175 King of Prussia Rd., Radnor, 610-293-9411.
Chef Michael Suminski is now in the kitchen at the newly renovated Ortlieb's Jazzhaus in Northern Liberties, which is under new ownership. Look for Cajun menu items along with plenty of comfort food. Ortleib’s Jazzhaus, 847 N. Third St., Philadelphia, 215-922-1035.
Alex Long, the upscale Chinese restaurant in the Wynnewood Shopping Center in Wynnewood, has closed.
Ludwig's Garten, the funky German eatery and beer hall at 1315 Sansom St., has closed. Time, from the owners of Vintage, will open in the space in early spring, serving traditional American fare and featuring an extensive beer list.
Vickers Tavern in Exton is now shuttered.
Owner Marvin Finkelstein is closing the South Street area Phila-Deli after 32 years. The building has been sold.
Lakeside Chinese Deli–arguably the best place for dim sum in town–has closed. Chef/owner Brenda Leung is retiring after 19 years.
The rumor is finally confirmed. Washington Square, the Starr restaurant that opened in 2004 with Marcus Samuelsson in the kitchen, is shuttered until at least spring 2008. The restaurant will reopen with a new name and concept–possibly Indian.
Butcher's Cafe in South Philly has closed. Chef Todd Bergman will be cooking at New Wave Café at 3rd and Catherine Street, Philadelphia, 215- 922-8484.
Chef-owner Todd Lean shuttered his (briefly) opened Old City Italian, Mandoline. He is now the executive chef at Deuce in Northern Liberties. Deuce, 1040 North Second St., North Liberties, 215-413-3822.
Monte Carlo Living Room, a longtime staple on South Street, is no more. Monte Carlo Living Room, 50 South St., Philadelphia, 215- 925-2220.
Center City’s Independence Brew Pub adjacent to the Reading Terminal Market closed its doors for good–or more accurately, was evicted–done in by $43,000 a month rent and owing big bucks to building-owner The Redevelopment Authority. Independence Brew Pub, 150 Filbert St., Philadelphia, 215-922-4292.
Pif in South Philly served its last dinner on July 14, aka Bastille Day. Chef/owner David Ansill is putting all his eggs into one basket, his newer, larger place, Ansill. Ansill, 627 S. Third St., Philadelphia, 215-627-2485.
Astral Plane, a 34-year-old Center City institution, closed its doors July 1.
Le Jardin at the Art Alliance has closed its doors. Owner Athmane Kabir, who filed for bankruptcy three years ago, sold his other restaurant, La Boheme, to Caribou Café owner Olivier de St. Martin.
¡Pasión!, the Guillermo Pernot–owned Nuevo Latino in Center City, closed June 2 due to a lack of business. Pernot hasn’t been in the kitchen for a while, working instead as a consulting chef with Cuba Libre restaurants. No word on what to do with those pesky gift certificates.
The Table is shuttered after less than six months on South Street. The Table, 223 South St., Philadelphia, 215-627-4307.
Cherry Street Vegetarian in Chinatown has closed its doors after 15 years. Cherry Street Vegetarian, 1010 Cherry St., 215-923-3663.
Zanzibar Blue has closed its doors after more than 16 years of delivering great jazz and American cuisine. Zanzibar Blue, 200 S. Broad St., Philadelphia.
La Vigna, a sweet little Italian spot in Queen Village, is no more. La Vigna, 1100 Front St., Philadelphia.
Shula’s Steak House has served up its last piece of filet, with Phillips Seafood, out of Maryland, taking over its space at the Wyndham Franklin Plaza Hotel. Shula's Steak House, 201 N. 17th St. (Race St.), Philadelphia, 215-448-2700.
Bertucci's at 1515 Locust St. is no more.
The eclectic (too eclectic?) Black Door at 627 S. 2nd St. is finito.
Next BYOB on South Street is shuttered, with the Medi-accented The Table recently taking its place.
(Updated: 11/08/10 CT)