Philly's 25 Most Anticipated Fall Restaurant Openings

Autumn is traditionally the busy season for restaurant openings, and this year is no exception
August 18, 2014
by Danya Henninger

Autumn is traditionally the busy season for restaurant openings, and this year is no exception. We checked in with the restaurateurs and chefs involved in the most interesting new projects and asked them to provide an estimate of when they’re planning to open. As anyone involved in the food biz knows, these timelines are far from set in stone, but to whet your appetite, flip through for a look at 25 new Philly restaurants to try this fall, in rough order of launch date.

Bardot, 447 Poplar St.

The Gist: Pub on Passyunk East owner Dennis Hewlett has jumped over to the other side of Center City to launch this sultry Northern Liberties bar and restaurant, snagging Resurrection Ale House alum Rhett Vellner to create a menu of European-inspired small plates, entrees and tartines. The style of namesake starlet Brigitte Bardot informs the racy decor — the former WineO has been retrofitted with lots of red velvet and black leather.

ETA: Friday, August 22

Beast & Ale, 4161 Main St.

The Gist: The first non-Mexican endeavor from partners Brian Sirhal and Tim Spinner (Cantina Feliz, La Calaca Feliz, Taqueria Feliz) will be this neighborhood pub with a “greasy-spoon comfort-food” menu. Beast is everywhere in the revamp of the Gemelli on Main/Bisou spot, from taxidermy spread over the two floors to a dedicated “Beast Light” (aka Milwaukee’s Best Light) tap, which will be offset by local beer on hand pump. Former La Calaca sous-chef Matthew Savastano will oversee the kitchen of the affordable 50-seat tavern.

ETA: Monday, August 25

La Peg, 140 N. Columbus Blvd.

The Gist: Peter Woolsey of Bistrot La Minette has partnered with FringeArts on this French small-plates brasserie in the restored 111-year-old pumphouse on the Delaware River that is the performing arts nonprofit’s new home. Right next to the theater entrance, the slate bar will be flanked by 100 seats across the ground floor and mezzanine, plus an outdoor dining area and beer garden that bask in the shadow of the Ben Franklin bridge.

ETA: Monday, August 25

Tuk Tuk Real, 429 South St.

The Gist: Circles’ chef-owner Alex Boonphaya will provide the Thai and sous-chef-turned partner Silvestre Rincon will contribute the Mexican flavors to this unique taqueria taking over the South Street spot briefly home to Paul’s Idaho Fries. Massaman curry beef tacos and lemongrass-scented empanadas are examples of the hybrid street food served at the 45-seat BYO, which will be colorfully decorated with murals by Rincon’s artist wife.

ETA: Late August

Abe Fisher, 1605 Sansom St.

The Gist: 30 Under 30 honoree Yehuda Sichel will helm this sister restaurant to Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook’s brand new hummusiya. While Dizengoff has counter service and picnic tables, this adjacent spot is fancier, serving foods from the Jewish diaspora (i.e. not Israeli food) to 50 seats at elegant tables, complemented by a full bar.

ETA: Sunday, September 7 (or sooner)

Blue Duck Sandwich Co., 2859 Holme Ave.

The Gist: A strip mall in the Northeast will soon be home to a Center City-style BYO from 30 Under 30 honoree Kristopher Serviss. Ed Eimer designed the open kitchen interior for the 40-seat American restaurant, which will focus on inexpensive, creative sandwiches for lunch and expand with larger entrees for dinner. Menu teases include General Tso wings with wasabi blue cheese and bacon-wrapped boar meatloaf.

ETA: Early September

Capofitto Forno, 233 Chestnut St.

The Gist: Capogiro’s John and Stephanie Reitano are making their fifth Philadelphia location more than just a gelateria/cafe. A wood-burning oven for pizza, focaccia and other Italian-style roasted plates has been installed in the historic Old City storefront (most recently a paper store), and a full bar will make use of the liquor license they’ll transfer from their University City shop.

ETA: Early September

Brigantessa, 1520 E. Passyunk Ave.

The Gist: Chef Joe Cicala is partnering with Le Virtu owners Francis Cratil Cretarola and Cathy Lee to open this 75-seat ode to Southern Italy, which will be a combination enoteca, birreria and pizzeria with an oven hand-fashioned in Naples. In addition to the wood-fired Neapolitan pies, the menu will feature spit-roasted meats, grilled fish, charcuterie and plates of antipasti set out along the bar.

ETA: Mid-September

City Tap House, 2 Logan Sq.

The Gist: Gary Cardi and his Public House Investments group closed their namesake pub off the Ben Franklin Parkway in order to transform it to another outpost of their popular University City beer haven, which also just launched an offshoot in DC. The Center City location will boast 40 taps and an open kitchen serving lunch and dinner to the 170-seat rustic-chic dining room, which will have a feel similar to the West Philly original.

ETA: Mid-September

La Colombe Flagship, 1335 Frankford Ave.

The Gist: Todd Carmichael and JP Iberti are building their opus. Their new Fishtown facility will not only be a tricked-out coffee shop plus formal cupping center, it will also house the distillery for Different Drum coffee-infused rum, be a bakery, have a full bar and provide the 20-year-old roastery with expanded offices from which to manage their multicity operation. A custom mural by Steve Powers (aka ESPO) covers one entire wall of the 15,000-sq.-ft. space.

ETA: Mid-September

Petit Rôti, 248 S. 11th St.

The Gist: Caribou Cafe chef-owner Olivier Desaintmartin is in the process of turning a storefront next to his Parisian bistro Zinc into a French rotisserie and gourmet pantry. A small dining area will provide seats to enjoy sandwiches built around the spit-roasted meats and espresso, but takeout is the main focus — when you stop in for your whole or half chicken, also pick up mustards, pâtés, vinegars, oils and other imported items from the retail shelves.

ETA: Late September

Big Gay Ice Cream, 521 S. Broad St.

The Gist: After jumping across the country to open their first non-NYC shop in Los Angeles, frozen dessert masters Bryan Petroff and Douglas Quint are bring their cult-favorite treats to Philadelphia. The storefront will be in the same Dranoff development as Kevin Sbraga’s newest venture (SouthStar Lofts), and will serve the pair’s gleefully wacked-out signature soft-serve creations.

ETA: Early fall

V Street, 126 S. 19th St.

The Gist: Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby of Vedge are will be applying their vegetable wizardry to street food at this bar and lounge going into the space next to Zama. No animal products will be used in the cooking, but that won’t stop the menu from being fun and even decadent. Look for crispy Korean tempeh tacos, grilled mushrooms with spicy hummus and a dessert called “slutty brownies.”

ETA: Early October

Bing Bing Dim Sum, 1648 E. Passyunk Ave.

The Gist: Cheu Noodle Bar partners Shawn Darragh and chef Ben Puchowitz are bringing Chinese to East Passyunk with their second venture, which will have 50 seats over two floors in the triangular building once home to El Zarape. You’ll be able to look through a large window and watch as the buns and dumplings are made by hand.

ETA: Early October

Lo Spiedo, 6301 S. Broad St.

The Gist: Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin are giving the Navy Yard its first full-service restaurant with this 150-seat lunch-and-dinner Italian-style rotisserie. Chef de cuisine will be Scott Calhoun, currently at Osteria, and he, Jeffrey Michaud, Brad Spence and the rest of the Vetri Family chefs have been busy perfecting a menu of wood-roasted meats like pork ribs, whole chickens and even spit-cooked wings.

ETA: Early October

Girard, 300 E. Girard Ave.

The Gist: A no-tipping policy is one of the ways this Fishtown brasserie and bruncherie from partners Christian Mora and chef Brian Oliveira will be different from other restaurants in Philadelphia. An open kitchen will serve mostly French-inspired plates made with local ingredients — including all-day breakfast favorites and daily-changing roasts — to 70 seats across a dining room, chef’s counter and outdoor patio.

ETA: October

Bonchon, 1020 Cherry St.

The Gist: Chinatown will get the first regional outpost of this Korean fried chicken chain with 30 U.S. stores and 70 more in Asia. For the chicken, choose wings, drumsticks or strips, the size of your order and either hot or soy garlic sauce. Add a side like bulgogi, shumai or potstickers and wash it all down with something from the full bar. Expect late-night kitchen hours, as it’s a signature of the brand.

ETA: Mid-October

Aldine, 1901 Chestnut St.

The Gist: Things are inching forward for the first solo venture from chef George Sabatino (previously at Morgan’s Pier, Stateside and Barbuzzo). He’s taking over the second-floor corner space in Rittenhouse that was previously home to Noche, turning it into a showcase for his unique modern American plates (think house sausages and pickles, but also lots more dainty stuff with flavors from across the globe), plus wife Jennifer Sabatino’s cocktails.

ETA: Sometime this fall

Kensington Quarters, 1310 Frankford Ave.

The Gist: Michael Pasquarello (Bufad, Prohibition Taproom, Cafe Lift) was originally looking for someone to teach him beef butchery so he could open his Fishtown whole-animal restaurant, but he and former Fleisher’s Meats head butcher Bryan Mayer hit it off so well that they decided to partner. The result will be a restaurant and bar (Damon Menapace will be chef) with an in-house retail butcher shop offering only sustainable, humanely raised meats, plus a second floor kitchen-classroom that will also host demonstration dinners.

ETA: Sometime this fall

U-Bahn1320 Chestnut St.

The Gist: Turn down for beer? Proprietor Teddy Sourias is converting the 3,300-sq.-ft. former clothing store beneath his German brewhall Bru Craft & Wurst into a subterranean rathskeller. Local beer will fill the below-ground taps at two bars, complemented by local charcuterie and sandwiches, all served on reclaimed wood tables surrounded by classic arcade games.

ETA: Late October/early November

Heritage, 914 N. Second St.

The Gist: Chef Sean Magee will use vegetables and herbs from the roof and patio gardens at Jason Evenchik’s new Northern Liberties venture, which will be more food-focused than his quintet of popular bars (Time, Vintage, Growlers, Garage, Bar). Booze will not be overlooked; expect an extensive brown-liquor selection and a big draft list with as many as 50 beers on tap. Manager Terrence Leach will curate the nightly live jazz program.

ETA: Early November (“Just in time for root vegetable season.”)

Brick & Mortar, 314 N. 12th St.

The Gist: Mike Welsh, who helped open both Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. and Lemon Hill, is setting up a comfortable American tavern in the southern edges of the Loft District. He wants the full-service restaurant and bar to be a neighborhood hangout, and will outfit the 3,500-sq.-ft. space in the Goldtex building with 100 seats across banquettes, tables and a bar with 10 beer taps and inexpensive cocktails.

ETA: Early November

Juniper Commons, 521 S. Broad St.

The Gist: Just a couple of blocks south of his original, Kevin Sbraga’s third Philadelphia spot will be a “fun, casual American restaurant with a throwback to the '80s.” Not much more is known about the spot, but it will likely have a large rotisserie grill, possibly over a stone hearth, and maybe even a raw bar. 

ETA: Late fall

Whetstone, 700 S. Fifth St.

The Gist: Chef Jeremy Nolen will explore cuisine beyond his signature “new German cooking” at this modern American tavern he’s launching with Brauhaus Schmitz proprietors Doug and Kelly Hagar. Housemade charcuterie will be sliced on an old-fashioned Berkel in the center of the dining room, which was once home to Coquette (where the Nolen and wife Jessica, one of our 30 Under 30 honorees, first met). A full bar will offer 20 drafts and several small-batch bourbons.

ETA: Late fall/November

Palladino’s, 1934 E. Passyunk Ave.

The Gist: A striking exterior decor will revitalize the “gateway” to East Passyunk when Luke Palladino’s Italian seafood and steakhouse opens, serving dinner, lunch and brunch to 120 seats. It’s the first Philadelphia spot for the South Jersey native; he already runs several successful restaurants and a catering business at the shore.

ETA: Late November

marc vetri
east passyunk
george sabatino
fall preview
joe cicala
lo spiedo