Have you seen what's about to happen in Washington Square West?
The East Market development next year will see the opening of Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant (at 12th and Market Streets), along with Little Baby's Ice Cream (at 12th and Ludlow Streets).
Around the corner, at Chestnut and Juniper Streets, Teddy Sourias and partners are building Tradesman's, a barbecue-focused bar, to complement their twin bars next door, BRU Craft & Wurst and U-Bahn. I'm also hearing of a bar chain considering the Hale Building, on the other corner.
More immediately: Friday, Dec. 22 is the soft-opening of Porta, an offshoot of the fun Italian eateries now in Jersey City and Asbury Park, N.J., which takes over the gloriously high-ceilinged former Cella Luxuria furniture store at 1214-16 Chestnut St.
A sister restaurant, Brickwall Tavern, is still under construction behind Porta; its entrance will be on Sansom Street, across from Fergie's Pub. There are Brickwalls in Asbury Park and Burlington, N.J.
Porta assumes two different vibes in the side-by-side storefronts: The 1216 portion has a chic, all-white look that plays off the bas-reliefs on the side walls. The entire front bar and pizza station are visible from the mezzanine. On the 1214 side — much moodier and more rustic — strings of lights, a second bar, and picnic tables create a beer-garden look; there's a staircase, topped by a clever chandelier made of old doors, leading down to the basement, where there will be a third bar.
Owners will bring in live jazz; on the day after Christmas, for example, musicians will play from noon to 4 p.m. during brunch.
Upon the restaurant's grand opening on Jan. 5, Porta will serve lunch and dinner on weekdays, and brunch and dinner on the weekends.