In a word: ¡!

The trailblazing restaurant ¡Pasión! has called it a día.

Last call after 81/2 years at 211 S. 15th St. was Saturday. Co-owner Michael Dombkoski, who said business was off, is cleaning up and working the phones to cancel reservations. Asked what holders could do with gift certificates, he said: "I don't have an answer."

¡Pasión! was the first of downtown Philly's crop of fancy Nuevo Latino restaurants, paving the way for such seviche salons as Alma de Cuba and Cuba Libre.

Guillermo Pernot - Dombkoski's partner and the restaurant's nationally hyped chef - bowed out last September to consult for competitor Cuba Libre, though he retained his stake in ¡Pasión!

"Everyone knew he wasn't in his kitchen," said Dombkoski, who also cites a lack of convention business, heightened competition (including the city's crop of BYOBs) and a burgeoning trend to more casual dining.

Pernot didn't return my call.

Just so you know the 15th Street restaurant news is not all bad: A deal was struck yesterday to place Del Frisco's Double Eagle steak house inside The Grande at 15th and Chestnut Streets, the former Packard Building.

The space had been carved out for a House of Blues, whose deal died after Live Nation bought the chain. Del Frisco's, which won't open till at least the end of 2008, is the posh brand from Lone Star Steakhouse, and will plop an additional meatery near the Capital Grille, the Palm, Ruth's Chris, Smith & Wollensky, Morton's, and Fogo de Chão.

Mayoral matters

It was a quiet meet-up Monday night for

Michael Nutter

and City Councilman

Jim Kenney

at Bliss, on Broad Street near Locust. They sat in a corner booth while Nutter's driver waited outside.

There'll be a mayoral challenge at the Rosenbach Museum and Library as Nutter and Republican hopeful Al Taubenberger plan to be among those reading James Joyce's tongue-tripping Ulysses on June 16 at the museum's annual Bloomsday Celebration.

Briefly noted

Saturday's awards program for the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists - at which CBS News'

Russ Mitchell

will speak and Fox29's

Sheinelle Jones

will emcee at the First District Plaza Ballroom - will feature a reunion of the staff of WHAT-AM radio, let go when the station changed format in January. Honored will be Inquirer deputy managing editor

Sandra Long

, Philadelphia Daily News columnist

Elmer Smith

, journalists

Karen Warrington


Paul Bennett

, and WCAU-TV's

Pete Kane


Danny DeVito, in town shooting FX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, will be feted Sunday by the Philadelphia Weekend Film Festival and Bryn Mawr Film Institute. They'll screen The War of the Roses and Hoffa, as DeVito fields questions. Tix ($15 for students, $40 for others) are going fast through

Angi Taylor, who left Q102's morning show in 2004 after a year and a half when she got pregnant and moved to Chicago to join her boyfriend, is auditioning for her old sidekick job. She'll phone in again today with Chris Booker.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and a friend were spotted after Sunday's Phillies game having dinner at Laceno Italian Grill in Voorhees. As the Phillies' Shane Victorino was honored that day with a hula-themed bobble-head doll, it was fitting that Manuel wore a Hawaiian shirt to dinner. No bobble on the table but plenty of bubble: Manuel likes his mineral water.