Beard smiles on Michael Solomonov

Corks were popping Monday night at Zahav, the upscale-Israeli restaurant in Society Hill Towers, as chef-owner Michael Solomonov won the James Beard Foundation's award for best chef, Mid-Atlantic, in the restaurant industry's version of the Oscars.

The Pittsburgh-born, Israeli-raised Mike Solo, as he's known, also owns Percy Street and Xochitl with Steve Cook. They're also creating Federal Donuts, a doughnuts-and-fried-chicken joint due to open this summer in South Philadelphia.

Zahav's Michael Solomonov brings his Israeli roots - with a trail-blazing spirit - to his little dishes.

Also getting props -- best chef, New York City -- was Gabrielle Hamilton, who owns Prune in the East Village. She's daughter of Jim Hamilton of Lambertville's Hamilton Grill Room. See profiles from The Inquirer's Dianna Marder and from the Daily News' Maria Zankey.

Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin's Vetri was nominated for best restaurant but lost to Danny Meyer's Eleven Madison Park. Also nominated was Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, for wine and spirits professional.

Details here.