Chef Eric Ripert is stepping away from his affiliation with the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and its 10 Arts restaurant after nearly five years.
He said a project in New York affiliated with his famed Le Bernardin required too much of his time. Ripert did say he will maintain his apartment next door at the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton.
Sous chef Nathan Volz, who manages 10 Arts' day-to-day operation, will continue to run the kitchen while Miguel Hernandez, the hotel's assistant food-and-beverage director, oversees the dining room. Ripert will finish 2012 at the hotel. "I'm leaving on a high note for the restaurant," Ripert said. (The restaurant spawned Top Chef chef'testant Jennifer Carroll, who was a Ripert deputy when she came down to her hometown in 2008 to open 10 Arts.)
Volz said he had some creative projects on the burner, including partnerships with local arts groups.
Ripert also is bowing out of Westend Bistro at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington.
Frank Crocetto spent six years working at Old City's Trattoria del Ghiottone, followed by eight years managing its then-sister restaurant, Il Cantuccio, in Northern Liberties. Crocetto has moved out on his own with Eatalia, a simple Southern Italian BYOB at 2723 E. Cumberland St. in Kensington (215-423-6911). The spot, beside I-95 and just off Aramingo Avenue (and minutes from Center City), previously was Bistro Juliana. Crocetto enlisted former coworker Ernesto Lima as chef, and they're executing a slightly more expansive menu of easy-priced favorites. Same menu is on for lunch and dinner; house specialty (and the priciest dish) is black-and-white sesame-encrusted tuna served in orange Triple Sec glaze ($14 at lunch, $22 at dinner). It's cash-only, open from noon to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday.
The December crop of openings includes:
Fratelli's Italian Bistro (1339 Chestnut St., 215-731-0700) marks the return of brothers Greg and John Whiting to the Avenue of the Arts. Their former Italian Bistro, on Broad Street near Walnut, provided a low-cost dining option until early 2011, when their landlord, the University of the Arts, reclaimed the space for student dining. The Whitings set up a comfy spot with a full bar and daily lunch/dinner service in a former Marathon Grill.
Rodizio Grill at the Voorhees Town Center (13109 Town Center Blvd., Voorhees, 856-770-8300), giving South Jerseyans a taste of that Brazilian all-you-can-eat extravaganza known as churrascaria. The chain bills itself as America's oldest; the full meat and salad shebang is $18.99 at lunch, $31.99 at dinner.
Ralic's on South (119 South St., 215-418-0600) - the seafood-focused bar from the folks at Ralic's Steakhouse in Haddonfield - will soft-open Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. Chef John Anninos will serve a limited menu of raw-bar items, soups, salads, and appetizers.
Liquid Room (1361 N. Second St.) is a contemporary refashioning of the old El Presidente corner bar at Second and Master Streets, just north of Girard. It soft-opens Dec. 7 with a Mediterranean menu and bars on two floors.
Fond, the ambitious BYOB, has moved into a new space nearby, just off Passyunk Avenue, at 11th and Tasker Streets (1537 S. 11th St., 215-551-5000). It picks up a liquor license and a seven-seat bar.
Limoncello, the West Chester Italian restaurant, has added a restau-bar in Lionville Shopping Center (499 Uwchlan Ave., Chester Springs). It's taken the former America Bar & Grill.
The Bala Cynwyd branch of Circles - the South Philly and Northern Liberties Thai BYOB - is to open Dec. 8 at 126 Bala Ave., which briefly was known as Pa & Pa.
Tashan (777 S. Broad St.) now offers comp valet from 5 p.m. daily.
Chefs Jose Garces and Hiroyuki "Zama" Tanaka have created Garces Chirashi, a Japanese paella, to serve at Zama (128 S. 19th St.). The dish, on Zama's dinner menu for a limited time for $25, is a fund-raiser for Garces' foundation. The dish includes head-on Madagascar shrimp, diver scallops, Spanish baby octopus, hamachi sashimi, madai sashimi, Kurobuta pork sausage, edamame, avocado, mixed Japanese fresh herbs (Kaiware sprouts, mitsuba leaf, myoga), espelette pepper aioli, and saffron sushi rice.
Media mogul Rachael Ray will appear Dec. 8 at the Free Library of Philadelphia's Central Library on Logan Square with her husband, John Cusimano, to talk about her latest book, My Year in Meals. (He contributed cocktail recipes.) The Q&A event, which starts at 7 p.m. and which I will moderate, is free.