One of the more exciting restaurant projects I've followed from inception to opening is Alla Spina, the Italian gastropub from Marc Vetri, Jeff Michaud, and Jeff Benjamin. It's on Mount Vernon Street west of Broad, just a half-block from Osteria and next door to Stephen Starr's Route 6 and Joe Volpe's catering hall, Vie, at the old Wilkie showroom.
I chuckled during a walk-through in fall 2010 as Vetri bounded like a kid through the former auto garage, gleefully pointing out the skylights and how he planned enormous new-but-old-looking garage doors along the facade. The menu, he explained, would be rustic bar food, the better to go with an industrial interior. It would not be a wine bar but a beer bar.
Flash forward. Alla Spina is getting national attention. GQ named it one of five hottest restaurant openings of 2012. It opens to the public Feb. 27.
Every time I drop by, more details dribble out. I've already told you about the chef's table on top of the beer fridge behind the bar, overlooking the whole shebang - which seats eight to 12 people. It will undoubtedly be one of the most-sought-after tables in town. But Vetri, Michaud, Benjamin, and chef Damon Menapace shared yet another fun detail: a table in the kitchen, seating six to eight.
The bar, overseen by a pig named Alex, will have two cask beers and 20 beers on tap. Victory makes the house beer, a blonde lager called Novello. Wine? Just one sparkling (Elisabet prosecco), one white (something from Wiemer in New York State), and one red (Bocchino's Nebbiolo d'Alba), all on tap.
Of course. Alla Spina means "from the tap."
Vetri hired a graffiti artist to give the walls an urban feel. (One idea I'm sure he considered was to set out a few cans of spray paint and leave the doors unlocked one night during construction.)
The menu - and here's your first look - is decidedly the most casual of the Vetri empire. There's stuff for those of you who like to go, um, whole-hog (testina "pig sticks," pig tails with fennel agrodolce) and plenty for more conventional eaters.
Cute touch on the menu is the option to pay $10 to buy a six-pack for the kitchen. They let you ring an enormous bell to announce your generosity.