Chef Alex Capasso thought of using his own last name for his new BYOB in Collingswood.
"But it's not an Italian restaurant," he says.
Because he uses French technique, he toyed with a French name. "But a French name might scare people off," he says.
He chose Blackbird because it's "a little cool and mysterious." Properly, the name of his cheery newcomer is Blackbird Dining Establishment (619 Collings Ave., Collingswood, 856-854-3444), in a former hardware store.
Capasso, who won notice at the former Max's Fine Dining in Cinnaminson and Misto in Cherry Hill, combines French, Italian and Asian - which means the menu qualifies as "contemporary American" - and keeps dinner entrees in the $15-to-$26 range; see menu at www.blackbirdnj.com.
It's open for lunch from Tuesdays through Saturdays, and for dinner Tuesdays through Sundays (he opens at 2 p.m. Sundays).
, the piano bar in Erdenheim that's been around probably since Steinway was a boy, has gotten some sprucing up under new ownership (700 Bethlehem Pike, 215-233-9955). The bar is Irish and the menu is moderate-priced Italian, says co-owner Anne Gallagher, who owned the former Main-ly Desserts in Manayunk. Her Fingers partners are her husband, Roberto Toselli, and friends Stephen and Karen Campbell. (Gallagher makes Fingers' soups and desserts.) It's open Tuesdays through Sundays for brunch, lunch and dinner. There's piano bar Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; Thursdays are open-piano nights.
Davide and Kathryn Faenza must have the seven-year itch. They opened L'Angolo at 15th and Porter in South Philly in 2000. Now they're working on a second Italian BYOB -
, at 2216 Walnut St., in the space that last was Fellini Cafe. They can't project an opening date yet. Davide Faenza is from Salento, in Apulia; it's the bottom of the heel of the boot.
Scoogi's, the long-running neighborhood-friendly Italian in Flourtown, is days from opening a Shore operation at 2109 Dune Dr. in Avalon. It will be open for lunch and dinner daily.
(Second and Walnut Streets) has retooled its open-air second-floor lounge, calling it Sopra, as in "over").
707 (707 Chestnut St.) has added Saturday lunch.
Nectar (Berwyn) and Basil Bistro (Paoli) now allow BYOB on Sundays.
Vesuvio in Bella Vista starts daily lunch this Sunday.
Swedes Inn (1301 Kings Highway, Swedesboro) has added outdoor seating, tied into Swedesboro's beautification project.