Stephen Starr's latest restaurant, a seafooder called Route 6, opens to the public on Friday, Nov. 18.
It's part of Eric Blumenfeld's development project at the former Wilkie auto showroom at 600 N. Broad St. Joe Volpe's Vie catering facility was first to open there, on the Green Street side. Marc Vetri and crew will open Alla Spina next to Route 6 on the Mount Vernon side, in January.
Starr initially had pegged this project to resemble a New England seafood house (and Route 6 is the road through Cape Cod), but, says Starr manager Sara Leveen, "Philadelphians don't go to New England." *
Ergo, a seafood restaurant themed to the stretch of seashore from Maryland to Maine.
Interior by California's Marshall Agriam Design Studio is all sunny seashore, thanks to a skylight and whitewashed wood window panes (holding curio cabinets), an open kitchen, 20-seat chef’s counter, and large wood-burning oven. Pine flooring was salvaged by local company Provenance. The entrance on Mount Vernon Street is through an open-air courtyard.
As executive chef, Starr has Anthony DiRienzo, 29, a high-energy Chicagoland native and fine-dining veteran who decided not to follow the family business (firefighting). DiRienzo instead traveled. He says he started touring with a punk band, went to a New York cooking school, got hired at 18 as a hot-app guy at Park Avenue Cafe, left for Chicago (Pump Room, Four Seasons, NoMi), segued to San Francisco (Fifth Floor, Michael Mina), then Mina's cutting-edge American Fish in Las Vegas. Starr found him through Mark Hellyar, chef at Buddakan, and DiRienzo came east, working at Morimoto, Talula’s Garden, and Buddakan Atlantic City since last year. He's been on Route 6 since February.
Menu (and the check average will be about $45 a head) will be classic seafood.
In fact, the only two non-seafood dishes are hanger steak (served with oyster cream spinach and horseradish demi) and fried chicken. You have to try DiRienzo's oyster crackers and Johnny cakes.
NEW> Here is the menu.
In addition to cocktails, Route 6 will have a 40-bottle wine list and 20 beers by the bottle and six on tap, including a specially brewed, unfiltered Rye ESB called Route 6 Ale, created for the restaurant by Bill Herlicka, founder of New Hampshire nano-brewery White Birch Brewing.
General manager Marc Oppen has worked for Starr at Parc.
* Clarification, after I checked my notes: Her point is that Route 6 isn’t exclusively New England fare because Starr wanted to tap into favorites from New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware.