Way back on Feb. 26, 2016, former Gov. Ed Rendell, Mayor Kenney, and a crew of restaurant and real estate nabobs gathered at the Curtis, the building at Sixth and Walnut Streets, to proclaim that the New York City bar P.J. Clarke's would open a branch there that summer.
Only 921 days later, P.J. Clarke's did, in fact, open Tuesday night. ("Lots of design changes" is the stated explanation for the tardiness. A bowling alley initially planned
for the basement was scuttled.)
P.J. Clarke's is suitably classic and grand — encompassing a dramatic bar, a handsome raw bar, and charming dining rooms decorated with a century's worth of Philadelphia sports photos and checkered tablecloths.
There may be a 212 history here, but this location is 215 all the way. Owner Phil Scotti is a native of Norristown. Wayne-raised chef Ned Maddock's dinner menu is deliberately tight in the early going, the better for training.
Specialties here are the oysters, clams, and shrimp on the raw bar, as well as the Barnegat Light scallop crudo, whose cucumbers and pickled fennel are bathed in a poppyseed crema. Entrees are mainly in the 20s. The signature Clarke burger, 7 ounces of beefy loveliness on a potato roll with crispy fries, is $17.