Ambrosia, an Italian BYOB, now occupies the Fitler Square corner spot occupied for 40 years by Sandy’s, a neighborhood diner with sweet owners. But anyone fearing that the breakfast-luncherie at 24th and Locust Streets was turning into a dinner house would be wrong.
Owners Fredi Loka and George Profi are planning breakfast and lunch at their simply decorated 45-seater. The men are Albanian immigrants each with decades of Philadelphia restaurant experience — Loka with La Vigna, Casta Diva, and Il Villagio in his cooking background. Profi owns Profi’s Creperie at Reading Terminal Market.
They bake bread and make pasta in-house. Menu includes salmon belly, scallop, and beef carpaccio among the crudos, such starters as grilled octopus, calamari, mussels, burrata, and grilled artichokes; seven pastas ($10 to $27) including squid ink tagliatelle with mussels, clams, and shrimp; ravioli filled with fava beans, ricotta, and mint with a brown butter sauce; and pappardelle with short rib ragu; and eight entrees including chicken Milanese ($21), roasted monkfish ($27), salmon with spring vegetables and a whole-grain mustard sauce ($25); and pan-roasted airline chicken ($23).
The neighborhood is enjoying an Italian boomlet with the impending reopening of Mama Palma’s at 23rd and Spruce Streets as Palma’s Cucina as well as the May debut of a city branch of Cotoletta, the Italian in Bala Cynwyd, which is opening a bar-restaurant at 23rd and Pine Streets. Add to that Trattoria Carina at 22nd and Spruce Streets and Sotto at 151 S. 24th St. (under the Walnut Street overpass), and it’s a veritable pasta party over there.