Table Talk: Latin BYOB in Fairmount

Owners Guy Shapiro and Luli Canuso in the BlueCat dining room. They named the restaurant in honor of their pet. MICHAEL KLEIN / Philly.com
Owners Guy Shapiro and Luli Canuso in the BlueCat dining room. They named the restaurant in honor of their pet. MICHAEL KLEIN / Philly.com
Posted: April 12, 2012

Husband-wife veterans Guy Shapiro and Luli Canuso have been around the block a time or two after meeting at the once-trendy Mirabelle on Callowhill Street in the 1980s. She was a pastry chef at Le Bec-Fin. He cooked for Russian mobsters, among other employers.

Now they have set up on a sunny corner near their Fairmount house with BlueCat (1921 Fairmount Ave., 267-519-2911).

Named in homage to the couple's pussycat - who Canuso says "is a domestic gray but thinks he is a Russian blue" - the BYOB features modern Latin fare at modest prices. The menu is still being fine-tuned, but expect such dishes as arroz con pollo and chorizo, a pan-seared fish of the day, the Chilean sandwich called a chacarero, salads, and oxtail. Fred Vidi, who owned and operated Frederick's in South Philly for many years (it's the Village Belle now), consulted on the project. It's open for lunch Tuesday through Friday, for brunch on Saturday and Sunday, and for dinner Tuesday through Sunday.

Italian shake-up

Chef Salvatore, at Skippack Pike and Penllyn-Blue Bell Pike in Blue Bell for 18 months, will yield to Blue, another Italian restaurant. Chef Salvatore De Cristofaro said he would return to Italy to shoot and produce a TV show. Blue's crew, which intends to install a wood-burning oven for pizzas and stay open during the transition, owns the popular Buona Via in Horsham.

Chef chat

Tony Clark is now chef at Serafina, the popular but critically panned Italian restaurant at 18th and Sansom Streets. Clark, who earned his stripes at the Four Seasons and with his Tony Clark's restaurant, recently parted company with Belvedere Restaurant Group (operator of Queen Village's Tapestry and Manayunk's Agiato). Clark said his children would operate Old Grange, his restaurant in Cape May; it reopens for the season April 23.

What's coming

Rakesh Ramola, a former chef at Tiffin, and his wife, Heather, are opening a branch of IndeBlue, their Collingswood Indian BYOB, at 205 S. 13th St., in the storefront near Chancellor Street that for many years was Pastoral, a Korean restaurant. Opening date is to be announced.

This weekend should see the opening of a third Shere-E-Punjab. The Indian restaurant/bar is in Concordville Towne Center (301 Byers Dr., Glen Mills).

A third Green Eggs Cafe has opened, at 13th and Locust Streets.

Next week should mark the debut of HipCityVeg, the vegan fast-fooder planned for 127 S. 18th St., in the spot that was Pad Thai Shack.

"Early May" is looking right for Brodo, the soup-salad-sandwich specialist in the United Plaza building at 31 S. 18th St., a former Naked Chocolate Cafe location.

I'd say "June" for Jane G's, the long-planned upper-end pan-Asian restaurant coming to 1930 Chestnut St. Chef Michael Chan's resume includes Shangrila in Devon.

June is the projected opening of Blue Belly BBQ, a small project that Cochon's Gene Giuffi is opening across the street at 600 Catharine St.

Contact Michael Klein at mklein@philly.com or @phillyinsider on Twitter. Read much more restaurant news on his blog, www.philly.com/insider, and follow him at www.philly.com/food.

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