Vetri venturing up
Things are looking up at Vetri - Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin's tiny flagship restaurant at 1312 Spruce St.
It is expanding upstairs, taking over the apartment that for decades has benefited from the aromas that wafted up not only from Vetri but from such gems as predecessors Two Quails, Le Bec-Fin, Chanterelles, and Ciboulette.
The opening, pegged for May, will also mean Sunday dinner at Vetri, something that the restaurant has not offered in its 15-plus years.
In addition to being able to host larger parties, Vetri, Benjamin, and chef Adam Leonti intend to use the second-floor space as a private dining room with customized menus. It will have its own kitchen.
The smoker is going full blast at Dickey's Barbecue Pit, a Texas-based quick-serve, which has set up at Seventh and South Streets (267-273-0364). Ka-Ron Thomas, a former culinary instructor at the Art Institute, is the franchisee. There's some seating but it's mostly takeout.
Culinary Institute of America-trained Christine Liskowicz, who cooked at Sabrina's, is behind Porto, a cozy, Portuguese- and Polish-inflected bruncherie at 11th and Wharton Streets (267-928-3956), the former Carman's Country Kitchen.
BLT, a specialist in sandwiches (hot dogs included), has replaced Agiato at 4359 Main St. (267-297-7596) in Manayunk. The liquor license is gone, as are most of the furnishings. It's open till 3 a.m. daily.
Wit or Witout Philly Cheesesteaks is now franchising. Keith Morris, managing director of Morris Capital Management, former La Salle University basketball player and son of coach Speedy Morris, has signed a deal to open the first franchised location, expected to open this fall in Montgomery County.
Not Your Average Joe's, a Massachusetts-rooted, casual bar-restaurant chain whose mantra is "fine dining for regular folks," is preparing to enter the Philly suburbs with two locations. The first will open this spring in Glen Eagle Square in Glen Mills, where Outback was. The second - just signed - is to open this summer in Suburban Square in Ardmore, where it will fill the bilevel space that previously housed American Eagle.
The James Beard Foundation has released its list of semifinalists, from which the winners will be culled in early May. Laurel and Serpico are among 30 names competing for best new restaurant. See the list of locals at www.philly.com/beard2014. Meanwhile, critic Alan Richman, writing in GQ magazine, named Pizzeria Vetri and Avance to a list of the 25 best new restaurants in America.
Carmen Tedesco, who started in the restaurant business busing tables 10 years ago, has been promoted to general manager of Del Frisco's in Center City, following the promotion of Richie Furino to regional manager.
Triumph Brewing Co. at 117 Chestnut St. in Old City won't close till mid-March, despite what I wrote last week. The location is in the throes of an ownership change that in the spring will lead to the name 2nd Story Brewing Co.
For more restaurant news, go to www.philly.com/mike