757 S. Front St. (at Fitzwater)
Philadelphia , PA 19147
Neighborhood: Queen Village
Parking: Valet parking Wednesday through Saturday, $14.
Related reviews: Village Belle
Cuisine type: American; Italian
Meals Served: Brunch Dinner
Style: The Campanaro brothers, Louis and Joey, have returned to their home turf in South Philly to give new life to the former Frederick's. The Roman-column kitsch is gone, but there's still an Italian flair to the New American flavors, including meatball sliders that are all the rage at Joey's New York eateries (Little Owl). The friendly service can sometimes get too familiar, and the menu could use more consistency and a stronger identity to set this newcomer apart. But there are just enough good flavors here to give this historic old space some hope.
Specialties: Meatball sliders; country salad; sausage ravioli; duck confit; tomato-basil risotto; shrimp scampi special with Serrano ham; ricotta crespelle; scallops; lamb chops with figs; cod with beans and greens; pumpkin panna cotta.
Alcohol: Along with the beautiful vintage bar (where Italian-themed cocktails scented with prosecco and amaretto are the sell), the wine list is one of the Belle's best assets. The surprisingly large selection offers interesting international choices of reasonably priced bottles, including a gorgeous "old vines" Spanish verdejo from Shaya ($40), a rustic Sardinian cannoneau ($38), a lush Torbreck Woodcutter's shiraz ($51), and a meaty Cline California mourvedre ($44). There are good options by the glass, as well, but only a few good beers.
Weekend noise: A reasonable 79 decibels, though it was not busy when measured. (Ideal is 75 decibels or less.)
Hours: Dinner Monday to Thursday, 5:30 to 10:00; Friday and Saturday until 11. Sunday brunch, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.