Derrick Wheeler, whose background is in business and engineering, has acted on his desire to own a fine-dining restaurant. Vella, a northern Mediterranean BYOB co-owned by his wife, Sally, has taken the former Freskada space in the Main Street at Exton Town Center (120 Woodcutter St., Exton, 610-524-3334). He's managing it with Kathleen Devine, a 30-year dining veteran.
Designer Joseph D'Ambro, whose resumé includes Alba in Malvern, Sovana in Unionville and Talula's Table in Kennett Square, installed a rustic, Old World look with distressed furnishings.
Menu includes flatbreads and pizzas from a wood-fired oven; top entree price is paella for $26. It's open for lunch and dinner from Monday to Saturday, plus Sunday brunch. (Weekday lunch is a $10.95 buffet.)
A Vedge offshoot
Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, whose vegan destination Vedge is one of the city's great recent success stories, are going to Rittenhouse Square with a still-unnamed boîte at 126 S. 19th St., next to Zama and just up 19th from La Colombe. Landau wants to counterpose Vedge's elegance with something more daring. Opening is tagged for March.
Stella Rossa at 10th and Walnut Streets (215-644-9074) - an offshoot of the Dave Magrogan-owned Downingtown trattoria - will emerge from soft-opening phase on Monday. It will serve coffee and grab-and-go items in the mornings before segueing into lunch and dinner.
The old Chug A Mug Pub at Albert and Tulip Streets in Kensington will get new life starting next Thursday, as Cook and Shaker (2301 E. Albert St., 215-426-2665). Owner Laura Viegas installed a bar made of reclaimed wood and exposed the brick walls in her 55-seater, whose menu runs from 3 p.m. to midnight on weekdays and beginning at noon on weekends.
Nov. 18 is the projected opening of the Moorestown Mall branch of Osteria, a slightly smaller sibling of the Vetri family-owned North Broad Street Italian favorite.
Out of its shell
Pearl's Oyster Bar, which has lined the 12th Street windows of Reading Terminal Market for at least 45 years, is getting a dramatic makeover shortly. Owner David Braunstein says to expect butcher-block tables and a new cladding of distressed wood. He's started with the food by hiring chef Jason Ledee, last at Green Eggs Cafe after time at White Dog Cafe.