Michael Klein: November's noshing time at 20-plus new restaurants

Chef-owner Joe Scarpone at Ulivo, an Italian BYOB at 769 E. Passyunk Ave. It opened last week.
Chef-owner Joe Scarpone at Ulivo, an Italian BYOB at 769 E. Passyunk Ave. It opened last week. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 17, 2011

America's restaurant climate has been improving during the last few months, as national government job statistics suggest.

Regionally, November may be the busiest month in years for openings, with nearly two dozen newcomers.

What's the magic of opening in November? "It's because we couldn't open in October," said Stephen Starr, who on Friday debuts Route 6, his seafood house at 600 N. Broad St.  , a sprawling, shore-style fish house in the former Wilkie auto showroom; see www.philly.com/route6 for the rundown, photos and menu.

In general, construction tends to lollygag through the summer and picks up after Labor Day. By Halloween, it clicks into high gear as owners seek to take advantage of the busy fourth quarter.

This week alone: Vedge, the upmarket vegan from Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby at 1221 Locust St., opens Friday. Kristian Leuzzi reopened Kristian's, his swish South Philly Italian, the other day as the much more casual Kris, and Tapestry became a simplified pub in the former Adsum at Fifth and Bainbridge Streets.

Last week saw two chef-driven newcomers in Queen Village: Ela, the modern bar from Chip Roman and Jason Cichonski, and Ulivo, Joe Scarpone's Italian BYOB.

Launching this month were Little Louie's BBQ in Collingswood; Birra, a pizza and beer spot on East Passyunk Avenue; and M Kee, a duck house in Chinatown.

The roster of newbies includes additional spots for Bobby's Burger Palace in Cherry Hill Mall, Firecreek in Voorhees Town Center, Percy Street BBQ in the Comcast Center shops, Bravo Cucina Italiana in Willow Grove Park, Mad Mex in Willow Grove, Bonefish Grill in Langhorne, and Chickie's & Pete's in Audubon, Montgomery County. On the carb front: Krispy Kreme is up for Monday in Bensalem.

Also on tap for this month are Stateside, a whiskey bar and small-plater at 1536 E. Passyunk Ave.; 320 Market Cafe's Media location (21 W. State St.); American Sardine Bar at 18th and Federal Streets in Point Breeze; and Belle Cakery, the sweet shop from Fond's Jessie Prawlucki at Passyunk and Dickinson.

Possibly opening this month will be Heirloom, an American restaurant at the Top of the Hill in Chestnut Hill; Nomad Pizza at 611 S. Seventh St.; and Forest & Main, the Ambler brewpub.

For particulars on these restaurants, see my blog, "The Insider," at www.philly.com/mike.

The number of failures this month, incidentally, is small. So far, I've noticed only one: Franco's Osteria on City Avenue. (Interestingly, its liquor license is being transferred to Top of the Tower in Center City, which is ramping up its catering.)

Briefly noted

A month after Jennifer Carroll departed, a new chef de cuisine is in place at 10 Arts at the Ritz-Carlton. Chef Eric Ripert, who oversees the restaurant's culinary program, did not go far for Nathan Volz, who started two years ago as sous chef.

Mount Airy's Earth Bread + Brewery is now open Mondays.

The Tilted Kilt, a Celtic version of Hooters, is setting up in the former Kildare's on Route 202 in front of King of Prussia mall. It's aiming for a March opening.

Contact Michael Klein at mklein@philly.com or @phillyinsider on Twitter. Follow him at www.philly.com/food and catch his blog at www.philly.com/insider.

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