Brandt-Lee doubles up
John Brandt-Lee is now chef of two Italian kitchens in West Chester: at his popular BYOB Avalon at 312 S. High St. and now at Nonna's, about four blocks away, at 116 E. Gay St.
The arrangement will culminate this spring when Brandt-Lee takes over the Nonna's space, setting it up as the new location of Avalon. It will be twice the size, with a bar. At that point, Nonna's will close after four years.
Brandt-Lee, who also owns Avalon Bistro in Downingtown, said he was talking to the landlord about keeping his High Street location, while changing to a more casual concept.
Fred Ortega and Chip Roman's paths constantly crossed in the olden days at Le Bec-Fin.
Ortega was pastry chef and Roman was sous chef. But candymaking was their common topic. Roman, who also worked at Vetri, went on to open Blackfish, Mica, and Ela. Ortega, who trained in Switzerland during his time at Culinary Institute of America, went on to become executive pastry chef at Lacroix at the Rittenhouse.
Last fall, they set up Tradestone Confections, selling Ortega's handmade chocolates online.
Now they have gone with a brick-and-mortar cafe, next door to Blackfish, Roman's Conshohocken BYOB.
Tradestone Cafe (117 Fayette St., Conshohocken, 610-397-0888), with a tin ceiling and exposed-brick wall, sells Ortega's stunning wares in a display case embedded in the front counter. The cafe also sells La Colombe coffee, pastries, and grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, and soups.
The crew from the Center City Mexican bar Jose Pistola's has headed to the edge of Fishtown for its second location, dubbed Sancho Pistola's. It's at 19 W. Girard Ave. (267-324-3530), next to the M Room and around the corner from Frankford Hall and Fette Sau, in a corner spot that housed the short-lived Bubba's BBQ. The center bar, ringed by tables, remains, as do the multiple TVs for sports. Joe Gunn and Casey Parker have brought in their chef, the Puebla-born Adan Trinidad, as a partner in this venture, whose 10 beer taps dispense locals and crafts. There's a solid list of tequilas and mescals.
Center City has what New Yorkers groove on: $1-a-slice pizza. Plymouth Meeting native Mason Wartman, who fell for the idea while working on Wall Street, opened Rosa's Fresh Pizza (25 S. 11th St., 215-815-1399) - a bright, utilitarian storefront that sells only hot-from-the-oven slices and 16-inch pies.
The days appear to be numbered for Triumph Brewing Co.'s location at 117 Chestnut St. Paperwork shows that a partnership has applied for licensing at the brewpub, which opened about seven years ago. The potential buyers will call the operation Second Story Brewing Co.
Marianne Cuneo-Powell has decided to close A Little Cafe, her critically acclaimed Voorhees BYOB, after 18 years. In a statement, she said she would "move in a new direction" and blamed "the downfall of the economy and increasing popularity of chain restaurants." The finale will be Feb. 16.
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