Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Vernick expands with a wine bottle shop | Let’s Eat

Also this week: Thai fusion in South Philly and budget-priced Italian food in Spring Garden.

Vernick Food & Drink at left has been joined by Vernick Wine.
Vernick Food & Drink at left has been joined by Vernick Wine.Read moreCourtesy Vernick

For his next act, Greg Vernick has opened a wine shop next door to his flagship restaurant on Walnut Street. Also this week, word on two newcomers: a Thai BYOB in South Philly and a South Philly-style trattoria/takeout in Spring Garden. Further, the closing of Dmitri’s has stirred nostalgia for Inquirer critic Craig LaBan, who shares a few restaurants he misses.

If you need food news, click here and follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Email tips, suggestions, and questions here. If someone forwarded you this newsletter and you like what you’re reading, sign up here to get it free every week.

Michael Klein

Vernick expands next door

Greg and Julie Vernick and crew have taken over the first floor of the stately brownstone next door to Vernick Food & Drink on Walnut Street for Vernick Wine, a combo wine shop and private dining room that can accommodate up to 32 people.

Which solves two issues:

From its opening in 2012, Vernick Food & Drink has been a destination. But large parties are frowned upon. Downstairs is too snug, and management has decided that the attendant roar is off-putting to the rest of the dining room. (No, you won’t be able to dine a la carte in the new room, but special events are planned.)

Or say you’re in Rittenhouse and need a wine bottle. Plot out the state stores in Center City west of Broad Street: 21st and Market, 15th and Locust, and 25th and South. Now draw a triangle. Vernick Wine (2029 Walnut St.) is pretty much smack in the middle.

It’s stocked with 100-plus labels from small wineries, starting at $15 — Maple Springs chardonnay, Domain Servin chablis, Thorigny Vouvray, Gunderloch Jean Baptiste riesling — with hours of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

More details here.

This Week’s Openings

Artisan Boulanger Patissier | South Philadelphia

The bakery-cafe at 1218 Mifflin St. returns Nov. 14 after a license renewal.

Cicala | North Philadelphia

Nov. 15 is opening night at Joe and Angela Cicala’s sumptuous Southern Italian at the Divine Lorraine Hotel, 699 N. Broad St.

Grindcore X Crust | West Philadelphia

Pennsport vegan coffee shop Grindcore House has partnered with vegan bakery Crust on a cafe at 4134 Chester Ave., near the University of the Sciences. Sweets menu (served from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.-ish in its early days) will expand to include sandwiches and salads.

KQ Burger | Wynnewood

Kensington Quarters’ burger stand, which started at Franklin’s Table Food Hall at Penn, adds a location at the Whole Foods market in Wynnewood on Nov. 13.

Uncle B’s Real Deal Southern Style | Phoenixville

Beth Birckley and Brian Howell have moved their BBQ operation from East Pikeland into large industrial quarters at 425 Bridge St. on the edge of Phoenixville, taking on a bar operated by the local Root Down Brewing Co. Menu has expanded with Southern offerings.

This Week’s Closings

Bincho | Queen Village

Japanese robatayaki specialist folded after six months at 228 South St. A New Orleans-inspired boiled-seafood restaurant called Cajun Heroes is on tap next.

Bobby’s Burger Palace | University City

Bobby Flay says his last burger shop in the Philly area (since Cherry Hill’s closing in 2016) closed as the lease ended at 3925 Walnut St. He also told me that his group is looking for a new location in the region but possibly without a liquor license.

Dmitri’s | Queen Village

Dmitri Chimes confirms that his 30-year-old Greek seafooder at Third and Catharine Streets is indeed closed for good, though he is looking for a new location nearby. The Northern Liberties branch at 944 N. Second St. is about a month from reopening after exterior repairs, he said.

Jane G’s | Rittenhouse (temporary)

A kitchen fire has closed this Chinese destination at 20th and Chestnut Streets “at least through December,” says owner Jackson Fu, who is still working out of Dim Sum House at 3939 Chestnut St.

Where we’re enjoying happy hour

Angelo’s Italian Kitchen, 1144 Horsham Rd., Ambler, 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday

The Horsham Pub, on Horsham Road just off Limekiln Pike in the northern reaches of Ambler, gave way last year to this roomy, sharp-looking, family-friendly Italian with a dining room on one side, brick oven and food cases in the middle, and marble-topped bar on the other. More than a suburban drop-in, it hosts frequent fixed-price theme-dinner nights that have become popular.

Angelo Evangelista’s happy-hour food offerings are generous, and you can build an inexpensive early dinner with the $5 plates of mussels marinara, margherita pie with fresh mozzarella, cheese-potato croquettes, chicken parm sliders, the signature eggplant rollatini, arancini, and meatballs. Only drink specials are $3 Bud Light and $5 Stella Artois drafts.

Where we’re eating

Mangia Macaroni, 1543 Spring Garden St.

How much Italian food can one block accommodate? City View holds the corner of 16th and Spring Garden Streets, while La Scala’s Pronto has the corner of 15th and Spring Garden, and John’s is midblock.

Into the pasta fray comes Mangia Macaroni, a prepared-food shop/takeout/trattoria in the walk-up storefront between City View and lunch destination Stockyard Sandwich Co.

Owner Dawid Piescik worked for chef Peter McAndrews, opening such restaurants as Modo Mio and Monsu, over 10 years. Breads and most pastas are made in-house, and the Sicilian-meets-South Philly menu is priced just right — maybe a few bucks less than you’d find downtown.

You can order a plate of, say, mushroom agnolotti (filled with ricotta, sage, toasted almonds and topped with brown butter) for $12, including a side salad and bread basket, which you can eat at the counter by the window, in the 28-seat red-checked-tablecloth dining room upstairs, or to go.

Sauces and pastas are available in a freezer case, for those who want to heat at home.

Hours: 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.

Cafe Ayla, 1700 S. Sixth St.

The corner cafe at Sixth and Morris Streets that previously was Maliwan, a short-lived Lao-Thai BYOB owned by chef Yenh Thivarath, has come back as a Thai fusion BYOB called Cafe Ayla, owned by her sister Nina and Nina’s husband, Christian Reneau.

And where Yenh named Maliwan after her daughter, so did Nina. Stop in to find a family member bouncing baby Ayla around the dining room, which has a calmness thanks to hanging vines and strings of lights. All homespun, for sure.

Nina Thivarath’s menu is split into starters (such as crispy tofu, shrimp shumai, and potstickers) and, in true Philly style, “main jawns” (such as curry, Thai fried rice, pad see ew, and various stir-fries — they’re each $12 with tofu, $14 for chicken or beef, and $15 for shrimp). Be sure to start with the Thai spicy cucumbers; there’s a reason spicy is the middle name. Bring beer.

For a splurge, there’s a New York strip with rice and other accompaniments for $26 and a mighty tasty crispy duck, sliced and served with jasmine rice, vegetables, and Thai curry sauce, for $24. Fusion? Exhibit A is the Thai chicken quesadillas.

P.S. Maliwan’s Yenh Thivarath has decamped to La Fusion at 1100 Washington Ave.

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday to Monday (closed Tuesday).

Dining Notes

Thanksgiving without turkey? Joy Manning got tips for pulling off the impossible from Philadelphians who have been celebrating meatless Thanksgiving for years.

But if you insist on tradition, Roger Bassett of the Reading Terminal’s Original Turkey stand has tips on how to roast the perfect bird.

Queen Village’s Hungry Pigeon will soon cut breakfast and lunch, in favor of nightly dinner and three days of brunch as its owners seek better work-life balance.

Also in Queen Village, Bistrot La Minette built a three-course feast around one of the world’s most sought-after cheeses: Mont D’or.