Table Talk: From Conshohocken to Ambler

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A semiprivate dining area at Gypsy Blu, 34 E. Butler Ave., Ambler. ( Michael Klein / Philly.com )

Duo branching out

Kim Strengari and Marianne Gere, who own Conshohocken's Gypsy Saloon, Stella Blu, and Southern Cross Kitchen, have a new partner in their new restaurant, in a new town: The well-traveled chef Clark Gilbert is running the kitchen at Gypsy Blu in Ambler. It's in the former 34 East, in the stone, century-old Wyndham Hotel (34 E. Butler Ave., 215-283-6080).

Menu is straight-ahead American cuisine (dinner entrees from $15 for a Kobe burger to $32 for a New York strip, plus the signature lobster mac-and-cheese), with a bar dispensing 24 beers and eight wines on draft. Besides assorted settings (intimate to public), there's a patio that seats about 50. Open for lunch/brunch through late night daily.

What's new

This week brought the debut of Uptown Beer Garden, a lushly landscaped seasonal space operated by Teddy Sourias (of Bru, U-Bahn, and Finn McCool's), outside the Mellon Bank Center at 1735 Market St. At 9,000 square feet, it will be among the largest beer gardens in the city, and its 35-foot bar is under cover. It will run through September. Some proceeds will be donated to the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Association.

Coming and going

Tim Spinner and Brian Sirhal of the Feliz restaurants (Cantina Feliz, La Calaca Feliz, and Taqueria Feliz) are veering from Latin America to Europe for their next restaurant, due in August: Pizzeria Felici, coming to a new development at 303 Horsham Rd. in Horsham in mid-August. Chef Jim Burke, former chef/owner of South Philadelphia's late James, is consulting.

Meanwhile, brown paper covers the windows of Beast & Ale, the bar/restaurant at 4161 Main St. in Manayunk. A rep says it's closed for renovation. She did not specify the nature of the renovation, the fate of one of Philadelphia's most extensive collections of mounted taxidermy, or a timetable for reopening.

Chiarella's, the homespun Italian BYOB across from the Singing Fountain at East Passyunk Square, has closed. In 2012, the restaurant was featured on Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares, an episode punctuated by yelling matches between Ramsey and co-owner Tommy De Fino. His wife, Dina, said they were scouting for a new location.

Friday will be the last night of service for Varalli, Joe Varalli's Italian seafood restaurant at Broad and Locust Streets and longtime destination on the Avenue of the Arts. Varalli said the properties housing Varalli and upstairs sibling Perch Pub would be razed, probably next year. Perch Pub, whose lease terms are different, will remain open on the second floor till spring. Varalli is looking to relocate, he said.

Tuk Tuk Real, the "Thai taqueria" at 429 South St., has closed after less than a year. Chef/owner Alex Boonphaya plans to reopen by late July as the third location of Circles Thai.

Rapidough Pizza Pies has closed in Collegeville's Providence Town Center. Brothers Tom and Nick Farrell of West Chester are moving closer to their original restaurants (Tom owns the Classic Diners; Nick has Sovana Bistro). They expect to open at 30 S. High St. in July.


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