What's the next "hot" restaurant area?
Could be Queen Village, the slice of South Philadelphia that also is believed to be the oldest residential neighborhood in the city.
Fairly stable for the last few years, with the exception of the usual South Street churn, QV will see five significant openings by fall.
One opening you haven't heard about previously is Fabric Row's Hungry Pigeon (743 S. Fourth St.), a partnership of two longtime friends, chef Scott Schroeder (South Philadelphia Taproom, American Sardine Bar) and pastry chef/bread specialist Pat O'Malley (Balthazar Bakery). They met a decade ago at the former ¡Pasion! in Center City.
Hungry Pigeon, in the former Jack B. Fabrics space at Fourth and Fitzwater (it moved across the street), will be a casual American restaurant - "playful and creative but not wacky," said Schroeder - open for cafe-style breakfast (Ultimo Coffee and O'Malley's signature croissants, yeasted waffles, and the like) and lunch (sandwiches, etc.).
At dinnertime, waiter service will take over and the menu will be a mix of regular plates and family-portioned items. For all of Schroeder's well-publicized meat dishes, he really is a vegetarian at heart, so vegetables will figure heavily. The menu will "not be a contest to see how much meat we can put on the table," Schroeder said, adding that pigeon will be served. (They plan to obtain birds from a responsible purveyor, not from some guy spreading bread crumbs in the Target parking lot and tossing out a net. Local sourcing only goes so far.)
The menu will reflect not only the foods the chefs eat "but also how we eat," Schroeder said, referring to himself and O'Malley. That is, a family or group of friends can order a whole chicken and assorted sides, and then share the bounty over conversation.
As for the alcohol lineup, Schroeder said, "Philly does not need another beer bar." Hungry Pigeon will include draft wines.
Hungry Pigeon will offer a June 22 preview dinner at Vetri, followed by a July 10 preview dinner at Cook; details to come soon. From 3 to 7 p.m. July 12, the men will host a "Feed the Pigeon" pot luck and silent auction at Isaiah Zagar's mosaic warehouse at 1002 Watkins St. For $100 a head, chefs Greg Vernick, Jason Cichonski, Joe Beddia, George Sabatino, Tod Wentz, Joey Baldino, Tired Hands and Ultimo will put out a spread; proceeds will help pay for Hungry Pigeon's draft system.
>Besides Imli Indian Kitchen, which opened a couple of weeks ago at Catharine Street and Passyunk Avenue, the other projects due this summer/early fall in QV include:
Southwark at Fourth and Bainbridge Streets will see an ownership change that will yield a new boutique Italian restaurant called Restaurant Ambra next door at 705 S. Fourth St., perhaps this fall.
BeerLOVE, a beer specialist coming to 714 S. Fourth St. (across from Southwark and up the street from Hungry Pigeon). It's due at the end of June.
The city's third Plenty Cafe, coming to the former Fleishman's Fabrics store at Fifth and Monroe Streets, across from the Rite Aid, is up for this summer.
Whetstone Tavern, an American bar from the Brauhaus Schmitz crew, is coming to the former Tapestry/Adsum corner bar spot at Fifth and Bainbridge Streets this summer.
Kanella South is coming to 757 S. Front St. (at Fitzwater), the old Frederick's and later Village Belle. This will be the new home of Kanella chef Konstantinos Pitsillides, the Cypriot-Greek specialist who will pick up his first liquor license. The menu will be "very interesting and quite safe to start with," Pitsillides said, adding that it then will get "a bit more daring." He's also planning a well-priced bar menu.
Pitsillides is tight-lipped about the opening. "Why should I tell you?" he asked, sneering at notions of eager first-nighters bounding in like sheep. "I'll just open the doors, like I did" at the old spot, at 10th and Spruce Streets.
Based on a drop-in on June 8, workers have about a week of structural issues to address before they start building out the restaurant itself. I'd say it's 60 to 90 days out.