East Passyunk is building quite the collection of white-tablecloth joints, including Paradiso, Noord, Fond, Will, and Laurel.
Its newest is Townsend (1632 E. Passyunk Ave., 267-639-3203), an elegant French bistro on two floors of a onetime rowhouse last known as Sophia's. Its namesake is chef Townsend "Tod" Wentz, the Lacroix and Four Seasons alum who won two bells for his work at McCrossen's Tavern.
Wentz uses classic techniques for what is now a small menu that will grow (rabbit pot-a-feu, seared Icelandic cod, wild striped bass, all priced in the mid-$20s). Wine list of mostly Europeans includes two wines on tap at the first-floor bar.
Wentz salvaged the cherry bar top from Twenty21 in Commerce Square, which closed in June 2008. (He, general manager Lauren Harris, and chefs Colin Leary and Michael Millon all are Twenty21 alums.) Townsend is open nightly except for Tuesday.
The BYOB options in Havertown are about to expand as Tom DeFruscio and Dan Duffy are converting their Pepperoncini Italian Market (101 W. Eagle Rd; 484-454-5995) into Pepperoncini BYOB. The 40-seater's grand opening will be Friday. Menu is straight-ahead red-gravy Italian, and dinner will be served daily (except for Monday) from 4 p.m.
Brian Sirhal and chef Tim Spinner - of Cantina Feliz, La Calaca Feliz, and Taqueria Feliz - are staying north of the border for their next project. Beast & Ale (4161 Main St. in Manayunk) will be a comfort-fooder inspired by the Lafayette Hill landmark Ye Olde Ale House. It's penciled in for a June opening.
Kevin Sbraga has signed a deal for his third restaurant, again renting from developer Carl Dranoff. The still-unnamed spot, specializing in rotisserie cooking, will be in SouthStar Lofts, at Broad and South Streets. It is expected to open in early fall.
The Fishtown Mexican hipster bar Loco Pez is about to expand next door. Owner Joe Beckham says the work will mean a new kitchen, more seating, a small bottle shop, and takeout.
Saxbys Coffee will open a cafe at the southwest corner of 11th and Locust Streets in Washington Square West this summer.
May 30 at 7 p.m. is the Opening Tap of Philly Beer Week, a gathering of 40 breweries. Its new venue is the 23d Street Armory in Center City.
The Vendy Awards, the battle among more than 30 top city food trucks and carts, are returning to Penn Treaty Park in Fishtown for a fourth year. The competition will take place with an all-female judging panel on June 14 from 2 to 6 p.m.
That week will be busy. June 8 is Burger Brawl at Xfinity Live, the fund-raiser for Philly schools. June 10 is the Great Chefs Event at Urban Outfitters at the Navy Yard, at which the Vetri family brings money for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation. June 14 also is the first VegFest, at Head House Square's shambles (Second Street south of Pine Street).
More restaurant news at www.philly.com/mike