Little Italy is the name of a pizzeria/specialty sandwichery under construction in the storefront on Ninth Street just above South that was home to Mimosa and ChrisStevens. Owners are Claudio Sandolo from Old City's Spasso and South Jersey restaurateur John Talamo. They hope to open the first week of March.
Soon as the ventilation system is upgraded (probably next week), Sakura Mandarin will be the new occupant of the southeast corner of 11th and Race Streets in Chinatown, the former's Ong's. The owner, a New Yorker, says it will be a Shanghai-style Chinese and Japanese restaurant with award-winning chefs.
Also hoping for mid-March is Smokin' Betty's at 116 S. 11th St., Susan Schlisman's casual cross-town companion to Devil's Alley.
Ladder 15 at 1528 Sansom St. is aiming for "the second or third week in March."
Lots of buzz about chef Patrick Feury, part of the team at Maia in Villanova. His brother Terence left the fold to become chef at Fork in Old City. Patrick is now doing four days a week at Maia and two days at sibling restaurant Nectar. Maia, which has been rocked by the economy and not in a good way, is boosting the dining area of the ground-floor bistro (60 seats), expanding into the coffee bar was up front. The coffee service will be integrated into the market in the rear.
Portofino (1227 Walnut St.) has put on a $39, four-course dinner menu that includes a glass of wine or beer. It's served from Sundays through Thursdays. Menu is here.
Nine local-ish brewpubs -- Dogfish Head in Rehoboth Beach, Selin's Grove Brewing in Selinsgrove, Victory Brewing in Downingtown, Ottos Pub and Brewery in State College, Stoudts in Adamstown, Iron Hill in West Chester, General Lafayette Inn in Lafayette Hill, Sly Fox in Phoenixville, and Triumph in Princeton -- made it onto Ratebeer.com's list of the world's 50 best brewpubs.