Add one more to the expanding Fishtown dining scene: Aether, a sexy, low-lit seafooder, is shooting to open just after Labor Day.
It has a sterling pedigree, coming from the crew behind Mistral King of Prussia, Mistral Princeton, and Elements Princeton.
It also realizes a 20-year dream of Fia Berisha, 33, a restaurant lifer who got into the business at age 9 at her immigrant parents’ pizzeria in central New Jersey and recalls standing on a milk crate at age 13 to make cheesesteaks at a deli. What followed was a series of restaurant jobs — cooking and managing.
About eight years ago, while dining at Elements, she met chef Scott Anderson. They stayed in touch. A little over four years ago — while Berisha was working in Jersey City — Anderson called to ask her to help open the new Elements in Princeton. She also impressed Stephen Distler, Anderson’s business partner. Berisha then opened the expanded Mistral (in the same building as Elements) and the Mistral in King of Prussia, which opened last year.
Berisha, though, had more in mind. She said she has been saving money over the years to open her own place.
“I was stalking Fishtown for a year before I mentioned the area to Steve,” Berisha said. They settled on a location last year.
Aether (1832 Frankford Ave., at Berks) also will stretch the Frankford Avenue dining scene north. It’s about four blocks north of Suraya, five above Cheu Fishtown, and nearly six above La Colombe. (Speaking of which: nunu — the Japanese bar next door to Cheu Fishtown — appears to be on track for a late-August opening.)
At aether — opting for a lowercase image — Berisha and Distler aim for what they call an accessible, yet forward-thinking menu of seafood, including lobster rolls, shrimp po’ boys, crab linguine, and a catch of the day, plus vegetarian options in a candelit dining room, behind a garage door, built with light woods, distressed brick from the original space, and iron and glass French windows and dividers.
It will have a raw bar at the end of the bar, with what Berisha calls “affordable oysters.” The bar program will focus on mezcal and natural, affordably priced bio-dynamic wines.
Figure on $13 to $16 for appetizers, $20 to $30 for entrees.
Berisha will not only run the day-to-day at aether. She also will continue to oversee the Mistrals and Elements. She justified the workload by explaining that aether will be open only at night. Aether will open at 4 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.
She also has a hand in the design, opting to use Philadelphia craftspeople including Kirk Loubier, a woodworker/designer, and Remark Glass, for light fixtures made from wine bottles partly from Berisha’s collection.
Aether’s chef de cuisine, Chris Boyce, now chef de cuisine at Mistral King of Prussia, will be in the kitchen overseen by executive chef Scott Anderson and elements’ chef de cuisine, Mike Ryan.