Restaurant vet Cary Neff can explain the hammering at the southwest corner of Fifth and Bainbridge Streets:

He's installing a brasserie, which he says will be along the lines of New York's Balthazar. "Not a crazy bar," he says. "A restaurant with a bar." The space is at 700 S. Fifth St., occupied most recently by an Italian joint called Angelina's (which lasted like five minutes) after a series of Thai restaurants came and went.

Neff has no name or projected opening date yet.

Neff, who's owned Sansom Street Oyster House for seven years after a decent run with Cary (on 15th Street, where ¡Pasion! is now), has another project in the works: a baby due in a few months with wife Michelle.

What's new

The beer is flowing and the mussels are flexing at the cozy new


(122 Lombard St., 267-639-3260), the name of which is delighting the alphabetical-minded among us. (It's Flemish slang for "madman.") Zot, whose signature is dozens of varieties of mussels, has taken over for

Le Champignon

, whose sushi operation has moved two doors west. Owners Tim Trevan (a restaurant rookie) and chef Bernard Dehaene (who ran

Le Mannequin Pis

in Olney, Md.) hope to raise the beer list to 500 bottles from the current 110 and boost the wine list to 200 bottles from the current 55. For now, Zot is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 5 p.m.

Early birds can catch an early-morning smoothie at the Main Line raw-food specialist Oasis Cafe & Living Cuisine, which has resurfaced near the car wash in Frazer (134 Lancaster Ave., 610-647-9797). It's open at 7 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays for drinks and continental breakfast plus retail health-food items. Lunch menu (salads, wraps and raw foods) is on from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Store closes at 4.

The crew from Hausbrandt Café (207 S. 15th St.) is behind Academia del Caffé, a mini-chain dishing Italian coffee, panini and salads. The first to open were 620 Chestnut St. on the ground floor of the Public Ledger Building (coincidentally, the Italian consulate is upstairs) and on the first floor of the Marketplace Design Center at 2400 Market St. The biggie, due to open April 2, will be a two-level space across from the southeast quadrant of City Hall at 1 S. Penn Square (between Juniper Street and McCormick & Schmick's front door).

What's coming

Matt Ito is saying "late March/early April" for the opening of


at 116 E. Kings Highway in Haddonfield. Ito won waves at Fuji's previous incarnation in Cinnaminson, which closed in August because its blighted strip mall was razed.

Shula's 347, an American grill backed by retired Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula, is due to open next Thursday in the Philadelphia Marriott West (111 Crawford Ave., West Conshohocken, 610-941-5600). The "347" reflects Shula's number of wins as a head coach; it will serve as the Marriott's hotel restaurant, open from 6 a.m. breakfast through 11 p.m. snacks. Shula's 347 is a sibling to Shula's Steak House in the Sheraton City Center (the former Franklin Plaza). A few years ago, Shula briefly tried a Shula's Steak 2 sports bar in the Sheraton University City.

More on 707, the upscale casual American bistro that Ryan Margolis has under construction for a spring debut at 707 Chestnut St.: Chef will be Dan Soley, a former sous chef at Brasserie Perrier and Jake's, and general manager will be Cyril Addison, also a Jake's alum.

Blackbird, Alex Capasso's upscale-casual BYOB, is shooting for a March 11 opening at 619 Collings Ave. in Collingswood (856-854-3444). Capasso, an alum of Misto and Max's Fine Dining, says he'll keep entree prices at $15 to $26.

Last week, I erred on the address of Clementine's Bistro, the BYOB replacing Albertino's in a couple of weeks. It will be at 1617 E. Passyunk Ave. By the way, Benna's Cafe, the popular cafe at Eighth and Wharton Streets, expects to open a second location at 1601 E. Passyunk Ave. in July.

Noodling around


Pho 75

chain is building out a spot in Chinatown at 1022 Race St., the former

Hoa Viet

. Seems to be several weeks away.

What was Porky & Porkie, the short-lived Korean barbecue house at 11th Street and Washington Avenue, is about pho or five weeks from opening as Pho Hoa, a franchise operation unrelated to the Pho Hoa at 501 Adams Ave.

Contact columnist Michael Klein at 215-854-5514 or Read his recent work at