Michael Klein: Brothers cook in the old neighborhood

Chefs Tanapong Limsuvanrot (left) and Kevin Levett are in charge at the new Liberté, in the revamped lobby of the Sofitel hotel.
Chefs Tanapong Limsuvanrot (left) and Kevin Levett are in charge at the new Liberté, in the revamped lobby of the Sofitel hotel.
Posted: October 28, 2010

Two chef-brothers from Queen Street in Queen Village have come home to open a restaurant six blocks away.

Village Belle (757 S. Front St., 215-551-2200), a neighborhood-oriented Mediterranean, has taken the longtime home of Frederick's, next to the park overlooking I-95.

Joey and Lou Campanaro maintained the dark, romantic vibe of the old-time barroom but stripped down the overdone dining room in favor of comfortable burgundy banquettes, simple tables, and hardwood floors. Check out the clever muraled doors of the men's and women's rooms in the bar.

The Culinary Institute of America-trained Lou Campanaro (who started at DiLullo Centro, headed to New York and Miami, and returned to the area to cook at Olive in Cherry Hill) and Joey Campanaro (also a DiLullo alum, now a New York star with the Little Owl, Market Table, and Kenmare) are keeping the menu simple. Entrees ($17 to $26) include crab cakes, lamb chops with black mission figs, and cod with broccoli rabe, white beans, and pancetta. Pastas and appetizers ($8 to $14) include ricotta crespelle, tomato-basil risotto, duck confit, and chicken-liver mousse. (See menu at http://go.philly.com/villagebelle.) Extensive wine list comes from all over; beers are a mix of locals and imports, all in bottles. General manager Michael Romeo previously ran Lever House and Barbuto in New York.

For now, Village Belle is open for dinner Mondays through Saturdays.

What's new

The Sofitel has moved its restaurant front and center, revamping the lobby into Liberté (120 S. 17th St., 215-569-8300), a plush room done in jewel tones and featuring a sleek bar (where the former lobby bar was) and a working fireplace.

Liberté serves lunch, afternoon "LiberTea," dinner, and late-night food (till 1 a.m.), while the hotel's previous restaurant, Chez Colette, now serves breakfast only and is open for private parties.

Chef Kevin Levett, born in Australia and previously employed in Sydney and London, put on a French-inspired menu. Dishes - including pork belly with caramelized apples and boudin noir, and seared diver scallops with smoked onion puree and pancetta - top out at $32, though most entrees are $16 to $25. Mixologist Marc Yanga has set up a wine list of 26 varieties available by the glass and in flights of three, plus imported and craft beers. Menus are at http://go.philly.com/liberte.

Expansion

After about three decades in Chestnut Hill, Night Kitchen Bakery (7725 Germantown Ave., 215-248-9235 has installed 14 cafe seats by expanding next door. This means a new brunch/lunch menu and plated-dessert menu available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. Sample dishes: strata (a frittata-like dish) with bacon, cheddar, and egg ($8.25), and a duck salad with smoked duck breast served over mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette, goat cheese toasts, and caramelized onions ($12).


Contact columnist Michael Klein at mklein@phillynews.com. Enjoy dining? Follow his blog at http://go.philly.com/insider and on Twitter @phillyinsider.

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