BYOB makes its move
Montco’s Arpeggio literally moved only 75 yards, but it now seems miles ahead, in a spacious setting for the outstanding Mediterranean food that the Ambler-area crowd has enjoyed for 22 years. Also this week, I find deliciousness at one new spot — Taste, a vegan BYOB in Phoenixville — and at two classics, Teikoku in Newtown Square and Pod in University City. (There’s a reason they’ve been open for 14 years and 17 years, respectively.) For this week’s drink suggestion, I’ll make it a double, e.g. two whiskey sours. Critic Craig LaBan shakes the sand out of his shoes and shares his picks for “subs” (not hoagies) at the Jersey Shore. If you require real-time food news — and that’s not a bad thing — click here and follow me here and also here. I love hearing from you. Email me here with tips/questions/etc. If someone forwarded this free newsletter to you and you like what you’re reading, sign up here and you’ll get it every week. Be sure to check your spam filter if you don’t see that all-important confirmation email.
Noted: Arpeggio’s short but big move
After 22 years at Arpeggio in Spring House Village (near Ambler), Mary Collum and Hamdy Khalil got an offer they couldn’t refuse: Move their popular BYOB to a new section of the property, or relocate altogether. (A Whole Foods store is on the way.) Arpeggio’s new incarnation (1101 N. Bethlehem Pike, 215-646-5055) is gorgeous — 50 percent larger, with a 10-seat, live-edge wooden community table, 119 wine lockers, and a ceiling that soars 24 feet up in the main room. Behind a two-sided fireplace is a second dining room that can be used for private dining, though it’s been full with walk-ins in the first few days. Outdoor dining, overlooking a fountain and a pond on the wrap-around deck, is on the way. The menu carries over: brick-oven pizzas and plenty of Italian favorites, along with hummus and hot pita and other Mediterranean staples.
What we’re drinking
Pink Panther at Trestle Inn
Want a sweet whiskey sour with a touch of mint? Trestle Inn, the Loft District whiskey-a-go-go bar (339 N. 11th St.), has the anther: The Pink Panther — Four Roses Yellow Label bourbon, raspberry puree, house-made pink peppercorn mint syrup, fresh lemon juice, and Strega. It's $7 at happy hour (5-8 p.m.), $10 from 8 p.m. to close.
The Afternoon Delight at Wrap Shack
Bourbon, fresh orange juice, Cointreau, and bitters come together in this fruit-forward whiskey sour ($10, or $7 at happy hour) at Wrap Shack’s new location, soft-opening this weekend next to MilkBoy, at 112 S. 11th St. Happy hours are 9-11 a.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m. to hit the ends of shifts at Jefferson Hospital across the street. (More info on Wrap Shack next week.)
Where we’re eating: Taste, Teikoku, Pod
Add Taste, a smart-looking newcomer in booming Phoenixville, to the short list of vegan restaurants with bars. It’s a redo of Sand Castle Winery’s tasting room (236 Bridge St., 484-924-9530); its wines are poured along with Pennsylvania beers and spirits, thanks to a new feature in state liquor law. Chef Theo Charitos builds his menu on products from Minnesota’s Herbivorous Butcher, meaning that he emulates meats and cheeses instead of opting for only “leafy-green” meatless fare. Pretty plates are served at lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday, including blackened “ribeye” with crispy potatoes and bourbon ketjap ($19) and the tacos filled with Lao sausage ($16), shown above. Sand Castle is also turning its location in Warrington’s Valley Square shopping center into a Taste.
This seasonal soft-shell crab tempura is only one draw at the zenlike Japanese/Thai Teikoku (5492 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, 610-644-8270). Chef Min Koo Lee, newly arrived from sister restaurant Azie in Media, puts a fresh spin on the menu — even desserts, such as sponge truffle cheesecake with fruit and rose maple syrup.
Check out Todd at Pod — as in chef Todd Lean, who’s simply killing it at the pan-Asian fave at 3636 Sansom St. in University City. He does traditional, with a new shrimp okonomiyaki (a savory pancake topped with shrimp, katsu sauce, bonito, and kewpie mayo) as well as fun. This bao is a classic xiaolongbao filled, Philly-style, with cheesesteak.
This week’s openings and closings
The Bagel Place
Aptly named bagel-ficionado Ringo Roseman has set up a shop, offering 21 different bagels, 16 spreads, sandwiches, baked goods, and smoked fish by the quarter-pound at 404 Queen St. in Queen Village. Opening is due July 6.
Supplanting food trucks, chefs Mike Sultan and Carolyn Nguyen of Revolution Taco are now running the kitchen at the Borough Brewhouse (208 York Rd. in Jenkintown), operated by Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company.
Tim Bonnie, former owner of Johnny Mañana’s in East Falls, is behind this diner opening soon at 707 Chestnut St., the former Rosa Blanca.
At The Table BYOB
The short-lived Main Line BYOB has closed, pending a change to a less-ambitious concept.
Chelsea Pub & Inn
The Atlantic City bar called it quits after 159 years. Current management, who had owned it for 30 years, did not specify reasons.
Fratelli’s Italian Bistro
The casual Italian on Chestnut Street near Broad pulled the plug after five years.
Your dining questions, answered
Reader: It’s time for a beach picnic. Where are your favorite hoagies at the Shore?
Craig: First off, at the Shore they’re called “subs,” which might take some getting used to. But we look forward to our roster of favorites every year, in large part because the rolls made in Atlantic City’s two competing bakeries — Formica Bros. and A. Rando — are so distinctive, with pale, unvarnished crusts that have a long slit that runs the length of the roll like a cresting wave. The 71-year-old White House Sub Shop is a deserved standby. They get warm rolls multiple times a day from Formica right across the street, and pack their sandwiches with the meats and cheese curled into an “S,” which somehow just adds to the flavor. I have so many other favorites, though. The classic Italian at Voltaco’s in Ocean City might be my all-time favorite because it’s built with such perfect balance and care. But we also crave the creamy whipped tuna salad sub lined with crushed potato chips at Dino’s in Margate. The various unconventional subs made on house rolls with handmade “fresh mutz” from Tony Boloney’s (both at the A.C. original and Tony’s roving farmers market truck) are hard to resist. Back in Ocean City, meanwhile, where we tend to eat a lot of lunches, there are a few other favorites to mention: good old Sack O’ Subs (for reliable standards), plus some nice surprises from Bennie’s Bread (loved the juicy “vine-ripe tomato” sub with mozzarella, prosciutto, and basil) and the zesty Italian veggie bomb of broccoli rabe, long hots, spinach, and provolone known as the “Uncle Charlie’s” from the Sandwich Bar.