Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Monday, September 8, 2014, 11:23 PM

La Colombe Torrefaction - the homegrown coffee giant - is on the verge of a major expansion.

You probably know about the enormous cafe at 1335 Frankford Ave. in Fishtown that will open any day now. No announcement - rather, the doors will simply be unlocked. The idea is to feed only the neighborhood at first.

You probably don't know that owners Todd Carmichael and JP Iberti are sitting on a pile of bucks - $28.5 million, says Carmichael - that will be used to open 90 more cafes on both coasts. Carmichael says La Colombe - now in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. - will enter other markets including Boston, Baltimore and a swath of California from Los Angeles to San Francisco. "We picked up an additional class of shareholders," Carmichael said. And with the original 25-year lease on its 19th Street flagship now extended 15 more years, the company appears here to stay.

POSTED: Sunday, September 7, 2014, 7:36 PM
A souvenir T-shirt sold by Lewinsky's on Clinton. (via Facebook)

What do you get when you combine a bawdy sense of humor, a love of presidential history, a long memory and an empty pub space on Clinton Street?

In Delaware City, Del., you get Lewinsky's on Clinton.

The bar-slash-double entendre - an homage to America's most famous White House intern - opened over the summer in the town on the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal.

POSTED: Sunday, September 7, 2014, 6:41 PM
The main room at Cibo Ristorante Italiano. Balcony is at rear. (MICHAEL KLEIN / Philly.com)

Toward the end of the four-decade run of Portofino at 1227 Walnut St., Ralph Berarducci renovated the place top to bottom and turned it into Walnut Street Supper Club, offering live music from singing waiters along with Italian food in a supper club atmosphere.

Last month, Berarducci sold to Chinatown restaurateur Kim Hyunh, who has changed the name to Cibo Ristorante Italiano. No relationship to the wine bars at Philadelphia International Airport - or to any other Cibo. (Since cibo means "food," there are a gazillion Cibos out there, give or take a billion.)

The concept is the same, except new chef Antonio Cardillo's menu is Northern Italian, and it's now open for lunch Monday to Saturday in addition to dinner nightly.

POSTED: Friday, September 5, 2014, 2:16 PM

Back in 2001, John and Stephanie Reitano vacationed in Italy.

The experience in Capri was an eye-opener. Not so much for John, a psychiatrist who was born outside of Venice, but for Stephanie, stay-at-home mother of three. On her first day, she discovered gelato - that cold mystery that's lower in fat than ice cream but creamier.

Back in the States, she threw herself into learning the craft. She never cut corners: Milk came from an Amish family's herd of grass-fed cows. Produce from organic farmers. Imported nuts. If there's something she wanted - like candied fruits - she made it herself. "John taught me to love food," Stephanie said. "I learned a lot about the Italian notion of locality."

POSTED: Thursday, September 4, 2014, 7:16 PM

The last time veteran bar consultant Jon Taffer was in Philadelphia, in May 2011, he and a small crew taped two episodes of a never-before-seen makeover show called Bar Rescue.

Taffer visited Downey's, at Front and South Streets, which survived. Swanky Bubbles, on Front Street near Market, did not.

Three years later, Bar Rescue is a runaway hit for Spike TV, and Taffer is back in town.

POSTED: Thursday, September 4, 2014, 2:38 PM
Sansom Kebob House at 1526 Sansom St., lower level. (via web)

OK, branding experts:

What do you do if you're Hamed Hahsy, who owns Sansom Kabob House downstairs at 1526 Sansom St. ?

Thirteen years, solid business, but the building needs work, he said. (Old-timers may remember the space as Charlie's Water Wheel.)

POSTED: Wednesday, September 3, 2014, 6:03 PM

Bledar Istrefi, who last winter sold his interest in the still-operating Il Polpo in Northeast Philadelphia, has surfaced in Mount Airy with Trattoria Moma (7131 Germantown Ave., 267-437-3838), assuming the storefront occupied for years by Umbria, across from Earth Bread + Brewery.

Istrefi, former chef at Bellini Grill in Center City, installed downtown polish at his white-tablecloth BYOB.

Dinner entrées are mostly in the teens, with a gust to $25 for the branzino. Istrefi bakes his own bread and makes his own desserts.

POSTED: Wednesday, September 3, 2014, 2:07 AM
Bar at Abe Fisher, 1623 Sansom St. (via COOKNSOLO)

The fall Center City District Restaurant Week runs Sept. 7 to 12 and Sept. 14 to 19.

You know the drill: 10 days, more than 100 restaurants, $35 fixed-price dinners, some $20 lunches.

While they have our attention, the folks at CCD have sprung the dates of the next restaurant week - Jan. 18 to 23 and Jan. 25 to 30, 2015. Right. You still have your holiday-season weight gain to consider.

About this blog
Michael Klein, the editor/producer of philly.com/Food, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here. Reach Michael at mklein@philly.com.

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