Birra adds Barra in Old City

Employee Nicole Choe packs Korean fried chicken at Cafe Soho 2 in Blue Bell xyxk xkyx kxy xkyx kxy kxy xkxyxyxk xky xxy xky xky xkyxk xky xkyxk xky kxy kxykxykxx.Michael Klein / philly.com
Employee Nicole Choe packs Korean fried chicken at Cafe Soho 2 in Blue Bell xyxk xkyx kxy xkyx kxy kxy xkxyxyxk xky xxy xky xky xkyxk xky xkyxk xky kxy kxykxykxx.Michael Klein / philly.com
Posted: June 21, 2012

Following up on his East Passyunk pizza-red-gravy-and-beer hit Birra, Gordon Dinerman has opened a sibling, Barra, in Old City. Dinerman is partners with Rob LaScala at 239 Chestnut St. (215-238-9983), in the space that briefly housed LaScala's Rocchino's and Azione; previously, it was Dolce and Paradigm — famed as the bar whose clear restroom doors fog up only when locked.

Barra is positioned as Birra's younger, more dynamic sibling, with a more sophisticated menu plus a serious bar program and a late-night lounge scene Thursdays through Saturdays. It's open nightly for dinner, happy hour, and late night. Brunch and lunch are due later.

A crispy new beginning

Cafe Soho at Fifth Street and Cheltenham Avenue in East Oak Lane — the best-known local outlet of ultra-crispy Korean fried chicken — has added a location in the burbs. Cafe Soho 2, maintaining the garish red-and-black color scheme, opened earlier this month in the converted house at 902 Dekalb Pike in Blue Bell (610-272-7767) that previously housed Japanese restaurants Sushikazu and Yama. (It's at the corner of Routes 202 and 73 next to a Rita's water ice and Suzy-Jo Donuts, to complete your carbo-load.) The new location, open for lunch and dinner daily, has a full sushi bar and a Korean/Japanese menu, and it's BYOB. The chicken wings — sold in orders of 20 for $20 — are available for eat-in and takeout. It will take at least 25 minutes, as the chicken is deep-fried in low temperatures not once but twice.

Changing hands

John Gonnella and Jack Calhoun, who owned the Nick's Roast Beef location at 15 S. Second St. in Old City for a quarter-century, just turned over the keys to bartender "Joey Dog" Schultice, an 18-year veteran. Schultice spent a week tearing up the joint, replacing the bar, fixing the floor, doing a heavy scrubbing, tightening the menu, and boosting the number of beer taps from eight to 12. "We'll keep the staples, but we're going with more fresh product — healthier," Schultice said. "Fresh-ground burgers. I'm going to be getting my steaks from Giordano's in the Italian Market." Wait. Healthier used in conjunction with Nick's Roast Beef? "Hah," Schultice replied. "We're not a gastropub." Down the line, he hopes to offer breakfast. Nick's, incidentally, was founded in 1938 at 20th and Jackson Streets in South Philly, where members of the DeSipio family still own it. The family also owns locations in Springfield, Delaware County, and at Xfinity Live. The locations in Old City and Northeast Philly were broken off years ago as franchises and are independently owned.

Opening watch

The region's second Joe's Crab Shack is new at 555 City Ave. in Bala Cynwyd, replacing the Houlihan's. … Fish (1234 Locust St.) has rebooted as a small-plater with outdoor dining. … Among the openings due in July are Spice 28 at 1228 Chestnut St., Rubb at 4311 Main St. in Manayunk, Blue Belly BBQ at 600 Catharine St. in Bella Vista, Doc Magrogan's at 3432 Sansom St. in University City, Jane G's at 1930 Chestnut St. in Rittenhouse, and Grand Luxe Cafe in Cherry Hill Mall. They're handily plotted with additional details on my interactive map, www.philly.com/mikesmap.

Photos, menus, and additional details can be found at www.philly.com/mike.

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