Wednesday, March 14 is the opening of Popolino, a Roman BYOB at Fifth Street and Fairmount Avenue (215-928-0106) from the prolific Peter McAndrews (Monsu, Modo Mio, two Paesano's sandwich shops, and shortly, Il Porto near Media).
McAndrews, working with Four Seasons alumnus Steve Flis, is offering brunch and dinner Wednesdays through Mondays in an Old World-elegant, white-tablecloth atmosphere.
The big wow is an antipasti bar - the "tavole calde," or "hot table" - featuring a variety of dishes. Center among them is a black label prosciutto di Parma - in all its luscious, $26-a-pound glory. Though the table is in the middle of the dining room, it's not self-service. Staff portion out the dishes and carve the ham.
The rest of the menu features rustic dishes - 10 apps and 10 entrees, plus house-made desserts. Though the final menu had not been printed during my visit, expect the classic tonnarelli cacio e pepe (house-made square spaghetti with black pepper and pecorino) and assorted pastas, plus hearty fare such as lamb leg, oxtail, skate wing, bacalao, veal cutlet "saltimbocca" (the priciest dish, at $23), pork chops, and sweetbreads.
There's also a $40 fixed-price dinner, similar to Modo Mio's $33 turista menu.