Michael Klein: Gracie's Cafe takes FuziOn spot in Montco

Posted: August 31, 2012

A few restaurant veterans have gathered near the crossroads of Routes 73 and 313 in central Montgomery County.

The Asian BYOB FuziOn has closed, and in its place is now Gracie's Cafe (2960 Skippack Pike, Worcester, 610-584-6958), a light and airy BYOB whose menu tackles Asian and Mediterranean cuisines. It's open for dinner daily.

Buu Ly, who created FuziOn and later sold it, is the owner. To manage, he's brought in Ian Mark, a former owner of the downtown destinations Cibo and Ciboulette and the Shore spot Red Chopstix, and Billy Wong, whose past includes eponymous restaurants in Old City and Warminster, Plate in Northern Liberties, as well as Tang's on South Street and Mustard Greens in Queen Village.

Two cuisines mean two chefs: Simon Vong, a Susanna Foo alumnus, on the wok, while longtime Dmitri's chef Umesh Chhetri, born in Nepal, cooks Mediterranean. Vong's son Phillip is the manager.

Menu includes small plates such as shrimp scampi, mussels, clams, and potato roti, and the grilled octopus is a Chhetri specialty. Large plates (topping out at $19) include lots of fish and seafood, braised duck, Malaysian lamb rendang, and crab cake. The Mediterranean pastas get a plum tomato or sake-infused cream sauce.

Coming and going

Brothers Greg and John Whiting, who lost their longtime Italian Bistro lease in May 2011 when the University of the Arts reclaimed its Broad Street space, are coming back to the Avenue of the Arts scene. They've leased 1339 Chestnut St., which was the Marathon Grill in the Widener Building before it was evicted in December. Greg Whiting says they expect to open Fratelli's Italian Bistro in October after minor modifications to the space. It will have a full liquor license and may also offer breakfast. And the Olive Garden directly across the street? Greg Whiting laughed and replied: "No comparison. They're a cookie-cutter chain. We stress quality and menus that change daily."

David Ralic of Ralic's Steakhouse in Haddonfield is planning to cross the bridge to open a seafood concept at 117-119 South St., the former Mallorca and short-lived Black Angus. The name and menu are not set.

Marshall Green will end Cafe Estelle's five-year run in late September. He said signing a new lease at 444 N. Fourth St. for the bruncherie just didn't make sense.

Move #88 for Jolly's?

The Jolly's Dueling Piano Bar at 1420 Locust St. (inside the Academy House) has been reflagged Duel, as Jolly Weldon is no longer involved. He is now at 3801 Chestnut St. with a similar operation, and plans to open Dalia's Lounge-Piano Bar at 1706 Lombard St., adjacent to Brick American Eatery. "I know I have moved my piano bar operation a bit recently," he says. "Thank God they put wheels on those baby grands."

Chef chat

Matt Moon, part of the kitchen team at Talula's Table in Kennett Square after the departure of Bryan Sikora, will run the kitchen at the Saint James. This is the American bistro - run by Rouge's Rob Wasserman and Sampan/Izakaya's Michael Schulson - opening in late September in Ardmore's Suburban Square.

Jennifer Zavala, who appeared on Season 6 of Bravo's Top Chef (forever known as Jennifer Carroll's first season on the show), has joined the kitchen crew at the Farmers' Cabinet on Walnut Street.

Hip waiters?

Reader Steve Gary noticed a recent sale at Chadds Ford's William Bunch auction house that included outdoors gear such as "gun-cleaning rods and brushes, hunting shoes, and waiters." No waitresses?


Photos, menus, and additional details about these restaurants, plus dining news, can be found at www.philly.com/mike. Contact Michael Klein at mklein@philly.com.

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