There's all kinds of intrigue surrounding the move of Il Pittore -- the Italian concept that Stephen Starr and longtime chef Chris Painter are cooking up.
Last week's news was that Starr had bailed on the initial location, the spot at Third and Bainbridge Streets in Queen Village that formerly housed Ansill. Why? No one is talking.
But Il Pittore has a new home. Just signed and sealed: The project is going into 1221-23 Locust St., which for a generation was the swish French establishment Deux Cheminees. (Early last year, a restaurateur from L.A. had leased the place and started heavy construction before the deal fell through.)
Starr is not being specific about the cuisine (beyond "Italian"), and for that matter, neither is Painter.
Please do not worry about Chris Painter. He is touring Italy right now on Starr's dime, and when I asked him yesterday when he'd be back, he said he did not know because Starr kept sending him to other towns to eat, drink, and stare at the countryside.
The move-in of Il Pittore creates an interesting dynamic in Wash West among the Restaurant Powers.
When the dust settles later this year, Starr will have Il Pittore plus El Vez -- yes, once Jose Garces' showplace -- at 13th and Sansom.
Marc Vetri has the venerable Vetri at 1312 Spruce, as well as the newer Amis at 412 S. 13th.
Garces is doing bang-up business in the Western Union buiilding (1111 Locust St.) with Garces Trading Company, and he is bracing for a late-2010 opening of Frohmans Wursthaus, his beer-and-brattery, at the former Letto Deli at 13th and Chancellor.
And if you're looking for a 2,500-square-foot restaurant (with a bilevel one-bedroom apartment) at Third and Bainbridge, track down David Ansill, who is cooking at Ladder 15.