Michael Schulson has upped the cool factor next door to his Sampan. It's the two-level Double Knot (120 S. 13th St., 215-631-3868), whose ground floor is a tastefully appointed coffee bar overseen by Elixr Coffer Roaster's Evan Inatome; it opens at 7 a.m. with a full line of drinks and pastries. Inatome invested in low-profile Modbar coffee-dispensing equipment, used later in the day for coffee-based cocktails. Lunchtime brings Vietnamese fast-casual dishes.
But at nighttime, walk through a door at the back, take a turn, and head down a brick-lined staircase.
Your eyes adjust. Pop! You're in a Japanese izakaya at a sushi counter overseen by executive chef Kevin Yanaga. A robatayaki grill sizzles at the far end, with about 40 small plates. Look farther, and you'll see a series of dining areas, plus another bar. Very Buddakan-in-New York-ish, appropriate as Schulson was its first chef.
Schulson and fiancée Nina Tinari, incidentally, are about to start construction of Harp & Crown, a casual American restaurant on the 1500 block of Sansom Street.
Pizza is out and guacamole is in, as chef Tim Spinner and Brian Sirhal have revamped their short-time Pizzeria Felici in Horsham's Elements shopping center into a second Taqueria Feliz (303 Horsham Rd., 215-323-4530). The wood-fired oven now makes tortillas, nachos, enchiladas, fundidos, and tlayudas, and the bar is stocked with 50-plus tequilas to supplement the 10 draft beer lines. Executive chef Michael Brenfleck's menu is actually larger than that at the first Taqueria Feliz, in Manayunk. (These taquerias are cousins of Cantina Feliz in Fort Washington and La Calaca Feliz in Fairmount. It's open for lunch weekdays and for dinner daily from 4 p.m.; happy hour runs from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Fishtown's ascendance will be joined by Root, a stylish bar-restaurant coming this spring from two restaurant veterans - Greg Root, who on Jan. 29 left his job as director of restaurants for Starr (there for 13 years), and chef Nick Kennedy, whose resumé includes the Inn at Washington, Jean Georges, Del Posto, and, most recently, corporate chef de cuisine for Scott Conant Restaurant Ventures. They're looking for a mid-March opening next to Frankford Hall at 1206 Frankford Ave.
Pizzicato, John Duva's casual Italian restaurant at Third and Market Streets in Old City, closed after 18 years. The city had filed judgments against the business, including one for more than $297,000 in back taxes that was the subject of an agreement a year ago. Meanwhile, the property's mortgage had been in foreclosure, according to records. A sheriff's sale was scheduled. "I've given up the fight," said Duva.
Matt Levin, executive chef for Brûlée Catering at the National Constitution Center, will compete on Food Network's Beat Bobby Flay on March 3.