Sept. 28 is the target opening for Scarpetta, the polished Italian restaurant filling the former Smith & Wollensky space at the Rittenhouse Hotel.

So what is Scarpetta?

"It's a constant dichotomy," said John Meadow, who is not a philosopher by trade but president of its parent company, LDV Hospitality. "It's high-end but not stuffy. The food is humble [though pastas are served with a flourish beneath cloches]. The space is modern, simple. There's no theater in the design."

The other day, Meadow visited the two-level space - bar on the street level, dining rooms upstairs, as before - to check in on construction. He said LDV - which owns Scarpettas in New York City, Long Island, Miami, and Las Vegas - has never done so much demolition. In taking the place down to the walls, crews have exposed graffiti likely left by construction workers on the hotel, which opened in 1989.

Meadow said Scarpetta aims for a "dinner party" vibe, with tables in the middle of the dining room socializing. But he acknowledged the space's million-dollar second-floor view of Rittenhouse Square; tables will line the front window for date-nighters.

"Scarpetta has its own vernacular and approach," he said. "We source local ingredients and we have to be a Philadelphia restaurant, but there will be no Philly cheesesteak on our menu. You don't go for us for something you can get anywhere." By the same token, Meadow said, Scarpetta wants to be part of the community. "If we fail," he said, "it won't be because arrogant New Yorkers came to town."

Philadelphians got a taste of LDV in Atlantic City, where it operated American Cut with Iron Chef Marc Forgione, Azure with chef Alain Allegretti, and Lugo Italian at the Revel before the casino went belly-up.

Chefs Jorge Espinoza and Jon Oh oversee the menu. Both worked with now-retired restaurateur Tony May (San Domenico), as did former chef Scott Conant, who was the frontman at Scarpetta's 2008 opening in Lower Manhattan. The partnership ended in a lawsuit.

"Scott is talented and marketable, and he was eager to go the celebrity chef way," Meadow said. "We got to point whereby he wanted to pursue other things and the relationship ended, and as of 2014 he was no longer working in Scarpetta. It was a public lawsuit that was rather swiftly settled, and that's it. I attribute a lot of our success to Scott. I'm grateful for his contributions, but Scarpetta always has been a team effort."