In today's restaurant scene, you seldom hear "value." But a new Italian spot in Queen Village not only hits a decent price point but also can satisfy the date-night requirement.
Also this week: A Hollywood hot dog legend comes to King of Prussia, and a chef from a long-ago BYOB favorite has surfaced at a Camden County sports bar.
Bridget Foy's burned down in late 2017, and while Foy, husband Paul Rodriguez, and family rebuild that landmark at Second and South Streets (up for fall), they've set up a sweet bar-restaurant two blocks away with a killer pasta-focused menu from chefs Carla Gonçalves and David Gilberg, who ran the Portuguese BYOB Koo Zee Doo a few years ago. Dad John Foy, itching to get back into the game, roams the bright, energetic dining room (the former Ela and long-ago Judy's Cafe), greeting his neighbors.
And Cry Baby (627 S. Third St.) — named for its rock-and-roll/Johnny Depp-movie vibe — is all so convivial. At opening, it fills with young families (kids' menu!), and then segues into a grown-up spot.
It's a good deal.
Apps and shares, including meatballs, bruschetta, and soups (a Roman egg drop and a fish soup), are mostly under $10. A special of bacalao carpaccio with mandarin orange, green olives, and Calabrian chili oil ($15) brought me back to Koo Zee Doo. Pastas top out at $17. Get the tagliatelle Bolognese (just enough for $15), or for one of the few vegan options, the spaghetti pomodoro ($12). Four entrées, including branzino with cabbage and clams over fregola, plus chicken Francaise, are $22 and under. Gluten-free pasta is available.
Full bar includes a predominately Italian wine list.
Hours: 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday.
Speaking of values:
Kennett Square: The Chester County burg gets into the restaurant-week game from Feb. 24-March 3.
East Passyunk Avenue: The South Philly strip's version is Feb. 25-March 8.
Atlantic City: Dozens of options on and off Absecon Island from March 3-8.
Mashwa Grill | Queen Village
The crew behind Poke Bowl in Northern Liberties is behind this fast-casual Mediterranean at 413 South St., most recently a poutine shop.
BenTai Cuisine | Logan Square
Sushi, other Japanese dishes, and Thai cuisine are the focus of this casual spot at 1439 Vine St., across from Hahnemann University Hospital.
Mediterranean Grill | Bryn Mawr
Tony Alidjani has closed his Persian BYOB after about 15 years on Lancaster Avenue; he did not return messages seeking comment.
Redhound Grille | Paoli
Its eight-year run draws to a close Feb. 23. In a Facebook post, owner Owen Marshall cited competition and staffing issues.
Marino's Kitchen | Marlton
“We have worked very, very hard to get this gem off the ground, but unfortunately it was not in the stars here for us,” wrote owners Christine and Michael Maglione about the Marlton location of this Italian spot, open 15 months.
Giuseppe & Sons, 1523 Sansom St.
By night, G&S is a subterranean Southern Italian with a plush supper club vibe. Over lunchtime, the building’s street level houses a deli with drinks and Italian sandwiches. To extend the casual airs, Michael Schulson and Nina Tinari have started a bargain happy hour in the deli, running from 3 p.m. till closing. The display cases are filled with a dozen or so aperitivi — tomato pie, rotolo, crostini, various cheeses, prosciutto, marinated olives, vegetables — all priced at $1 to $4 a piece. Easy and DIY: You pick out what you want, order a drink, and go to town either at the bar or at a table in the tiled room.
Pink's Hot Dogs, King of Prussia Mall (160 N. Gulph Rd., King of Prussia)
Hot dog haven Pink's, a Hollywood thing since 1939, is going national. Its lone Philly area location landed last month in the middle of Savor, the food court at the King of Prussia Mall, taking the former Fat Ham with a gaudy stand. Order at the counter and grab your dogs, burgers, and fries either to go, or let a runner tote it to your table. Self-serve soda bar and the large condiment selection are pluses.
Varieties and toppings seem endless, and celebs seem eager to lend their names to the wares (the toppings on the Rosie O’Donnell Long Island Dog, for example, are mustard, onions, chili and sauerkraut). Unique to KoP is the Philly Cheesesteak Dog, topped with grilled steak, grilled peppers and onions, and American and (why?) Swiss cheese. Dogs, whether the 9-inch “stretchers” or the Polish dogs, have a proper snap. There’s a vegetarian version, too.
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.
N.B. Its hot dog topping grand-opening ceremony is 11 a.m. Friday.
Time Out Sports Bar, 241 White Horse Pike, Barrington
One of South Jersey's BYOB charmers was A Little Cafe in Voorhees, which wrapped a 15-year career in 2014. From there, chef-owner Marianne Cuneo-Powell took chef's jobs with a supermarket and then a church. One day last fall, she stopped into her former neighborhood bar, now known as Time Out, and struck up a conversation with the boss.
Now, Cuneo-Powell is its chef. The familiar pub menu has been upgraded (yes, you can still order the typical fried stuff), but she has added nightly specials from A Little Cafe’s days, such as the fried tomato appetizer, the soups, chili, and ahi tuna wonton nachos, chicken pot pie in puff pastry, and beef Burgundy.
For best results, get there during dinner hours, before the live music kicks in. Kitchen hours: noon-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon-1 am. Friday and Saturday, noon-10 p.m. Sunday.
Get excited, beer geeks: The highly coveted Pliny the Younger is coming to Monk's Cafe.
Want tastier bread, pancakes, and pizza dough? Make your own flour. Let us tell you how.
Craig LaBan went to Giuseppe & Sons to see what happens when South Philly red gravy goes big. (Maybe it went too big.)