Something new and dramatic in sleepy little Bridgeport, across the Schuylkill from Norristown: Taphouse 23 (266 E. Fourth St., Bridgeport, 610-277-2323 ), which two weeks ago replaced a series of corner bars, most recently the Point.
It's the pet project of local businessman Gary Johnson of Tube Methods, who after buying the joint realized that it needed more than a coat of paint. A top-to-bottom redo yielded dining areas off the two-sided bar as well as the roomy second floor, clad in wood with glass.
Chef Eric Gantz, most recently at Sullivan's Steakhouse in King of Prussia, executes a moderate-priced American menu. There's live music Friday to Sunday.
The 23 refers to Route 23 outside the front door as well as to the 23 craft beers on tap. Open midday daily for brunch/lunch. Food till midnight Monday to Wednesday and till 1 a.m. Thursday to Sunday. Late Sunday nights, the pub has turned into a hangout for King of Prussia restaurant workers. Work continues on a heavily landscaped outdoor dining area in the rear.
Gary Dorfman and Sean Stein have opened a second location of their carved-meat eatery Jake's Sandwich Board, setting up at 140 S. 40th St. in University City. Like Midtown Village, it has the open floor plan, wooden tables, and subway tiles from Eimer Design.
Nearly a year after the debut of Rosa Blanca (707 Chestnut St.), Jose Garces has opened its downstairs lounge. Nacional 56 is named after Cabaret Parisien, which opened in the Hotel Nacional de Cuba in 1956. It opens at 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, with music spun by Pena Productions from 7 p.m. to midnight. On Fridays and Saturdays from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., live bands take over the back dining room of Rosa Blanca while the DJ spins downstairs.
Angelo Lutz of Kitchen Consigliere Cafe in Collingswood will turn up on the small screen: at 4 p.m. Friday, he will sell prime rib on QVC and at 10 p.m. Sunday, he will compete on the Food Network's Cutthroat Kitchen.
Travis Messman, an alumnus of Supper on South Street, is now executive chef at Society Hill Society in Society Hill.
Jules Thin Crust Pizza's seventh Philadelphia-area shop is on the way, destined for Ellisburg Shopping Center in Cherry Hill in January. Co-owner John Ordway, who opened in 2004 after seeing a need for organic and gluten-free pies, says he was attracted by the proximity to a new Whole Foods store. "We tend to shadow where they go," he said. "The Whole Foods mother is really Jules' customer. Their demographic fits our profile."
Dave Magrogan continues his restaurant-opening binge with Red Star Craft House at Exton Square Mall (610-524-5893), his 16th, after four Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bars; four Doc Magrogan's Oyster Houses; two Barra Rossa Ristorantes; and five Kildare's Irish Pubs. Red Star serves wood-fired brick-oven pizzas, tacos, burgers, plus 50 American drafts on tap and 100 beers in bottles. Open for dinner only throughout its first weekend. Lunch starts on Monday.