Chef Luke Palladino, who has built a mini-empire at the Jersey Shore, has just opened Palladino's, an East Passyunk Italian steak/seafooder, at 1934 E. Passyunk Ave. (267-928-4339).
It features sexy banquette seating (beneath padded walls) and intimate black-lacquer table seating, as well as a roomy, 12-seat bar (with 18 seated at high-tops) that looks into an open kitchen. Designer Scott Eccard opted for a muted color palette, exposed ductwork, and a warm orange ceiling. Palladino's collection of original Fornasetti plates hangs on one wall. He stocked the kitchen with not only a wood-fired grill but also a focaccia oven from Recco, Italy.
Dining experiences can be tailored, whether appetizers at the bar or full meals. Pastas are mainly $19 to $24, while meats start in the mid-$20s and head north.
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant's 11th location has arrived in a former carpet store in Ardmore Plaza (60 Greenfield Ave., 610-228-2280). Brewer Paul Rutherford, formerly at Iron Hill in Chestnut Hill, opens with eight beers on tap. It's open daily for lunch and dinner with a something-for-everyone menu. (Iron Hill has struck a deal with the strip across the street.)
Father-son restaurateurs Alberto and Robert Guadagnini had a sprawling Newtown Square restaurant/banquet facility - previously Alberto's Newtown Squire - sitting empty after others had run it as Newtown Grill and as Casale. They've renovated top to bottom, brought in chef Chris Scarduzio (ex-Table 31, Mia's, Avance, Scarduzio's, Brasserie Perrier), and reflagged it Teca Newtown Square (191 S. Newtown Street Rd., Newtown Square, 484-420-4010) to share the name of their West Chester restaurant. It's modeled after Alberto Guadagnini's Italian winery, Casali di Bibbiano. There's a dine-in, brick wine cellar, mod-looking bar, assorted dining rooms (contemporary and more traditional), and a counter serving brick-oven pizza. It's open for lunch and dinner daily. Figure $15 to $19 for pizza, $17 to $23 for most pasta at dinner, and $22 to $30 for most dinner entrees.
Combine a retro diner and a newfangled city coffee house and you pretty much have the idea behind Dottie's Dinette, at 1080 N. Delaware Ave. (267-457-2431), directly across from SugarHouse Casino's entrance. There is no phone-book-size menu, explains Jeff Larsen, who with his venture capitalist/business partners Tim MacColl and Satya Ponnuru are behind the enterprise. The idea is to do fewer items better - "America's greatest hits," as he calls them. Susan Vanvreede, who spent seven years in the Garces Group, most recently at Distrito, is chef/manager. She is backed by Garces alum Brandon Hall. They're serving Greenstreet Coffee, Benton's bacon, and Wagyu beef. Hours are 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. for now; dinner will start soon.
The Saint James, in Suburban Square in Ardmore, will close after business on Dec. 30. Owner Rob Wasserman, whose other holdings are Rouge and 500º, said six weeks of heavy renovations will yield a new, family-friendly restaurant. Saint James gift cards will be honored at the new location, he said.