Buoyed by their success on East Passyunk Avenue, Le Virtù owners Francis Cratil Cretarola and Catherine Lee - in partnership with chef Joe Cicala - are opening a homey offshoot down the street.
Brigantessa - named after the female southern Italian guerrilla fighters who resisted the unification of Italy in the 1860s - is to occupy 1520 E. Passyunk Ave., now Karina's on the corner of Passyunk and Greenwich, near the singing fountain.
Building owner Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corp., planning a top-to-bottom renovation, is hoping to relocate Karina's in the neighborhood; it's remaining open into February.
Brigantessa's target opening is July.
Where Le Virtù is all about Abruzzo, the unpretentious Brigantessa will cast a wide swath through southern Italy, combining elements of the forno a legna (wood-fired) pizzeria napoletana, enoteca (wine bar with small tapas-like dishes) and birreria (tap room).
Cicala, who trained in Salerno, will make antipasti that will be visible at and served from the bar, warm antipasti, panini, oven-baked pastas, pizzas and other dishes (goat, lamb, pasta, etc.) all finished in terracotta and copper dishes taken from the wood-fired oven.
Decor will feature rustic earth tones with wooden floors, bar top and bar back, limited decorative flourishes (historical and contemporary photos from southern Italy, salvaged architectural elements, rustic tools, etc.) and simple light fixtures. The main, first-floor dining/bar area will be the wood-burning oven, where pizza and a large portion of the menu will be prepared.
Tap list will include 20 to 30 wines by the glass and 15 to 20 beers on tap.