Michael Klein: New life for Old Swedes Inn

Murals painted by partner Gus Tzitzifas' wife, Effie, decorate walls at Tavro Thirteen. The menu is seasonally driven American, much of it locally sourced,
Murals painted by partner Gus Tzitzifas' wife, Effie, decorate walls at Tavro Thirteen. The menu is seasonally driven American, much of it locally sourced, (   )
Posted: October 23, 2012

Gus Tzitzifas and his wife, Effie, fell in love with the Old Swedes Inn in Swedesboro in 2006 when they stopped for dinner during Swedesboro Woolwich Day.

As the saying goes, they liked it so much, they bought the place, though it took 4½ years to complete the sale.

Then came the renovation, which took the 18th-century Gloucester County landmark down to the bare walls. Along the way, the Tzitzifases - he's a certified public accountant who also owns the Marlton Diner - were frequent patrons of Fork in Old City. They liked the chef so much, they brought him on as a partner.

Terence Feury designed the menu and helped set up the dream kitchen at Tavro Thirteen (1301 Kings Highway, Swedesboro, 856-467-8413), which opens Monday. Seasonally driven American menu, much of it locally sourced, includes Arctic char ($24), tilefish ($22), pork rack ($25), and a prime strip steak ($33). Feury seems to be enjoying his countryside experience, having been to a livestock auction nearby.

Tavro Thirteen's white-tablecloth dining room is accented by red banquettes and a working fireplace. At least half of the rambling building includes a 33-foot bar with whimsical decorations, including murals by Effie Tzitzifas. The lounge, where live music is planned, was an auto showroom years ago and has a smooth concrete floor, outlandish light fixtures, and an overdone sofa.

As for the name, tavro is Greek for bull - and there are two sculptures outside - and 13 is the couple's lucky number. Hours will be 5 to 10:30 p.m. on weekdays and till 11:30 on weekends. Lunch will start in a few weeks.

What's new

Yardley has a brewpub, as Vault Brewing Co. has opened in the former Bank of America building at 10 S. Main St. (267-573-4291), representing a year's toil for brothers John and James Cain. The Bucks Countians brought in homebrewer Mark Thomas to man the vats. Live jazz adds a grown-up touch. The interior maintains financial features. Safe-deposit boxes and vault doors greet you in the vestibules. The four serving tanks and two fermenting tanks sit behind wrought iron. The Cains installed a copper-clad wood-fired oven, which is the only cooking implement - no grills, fryers, or stoves. Menu is simple: pizzas, charcuterie, a hummus-and-pita - served on a black walnut board. Local Crossing Vineyards wine is served, along with a housemade sarsaparilla. They are futzing for now with the closing times. It opens at 4 p.m. weekdays, and noon on weekends.

Fountain Porter is a corner bar replacing 1601 at 1601 S. 10th St. (the corner of 10th and Tasker Streets). It's a partnership of Evan Clancy and Scott Pawlicky, who tended bar at the Kite & Key in Franklintown. Clancy describes his wood-clad joint as an old-school corner bar with 20 drafts, affordable wine, indoor picnic tables, and a menu of meat and cheese plates - "nothing pretentious."

New in Baederwood Shopping Center in Jenkintown: Schmooze Deli (1595 The Fairway, 215-885-2600) - sitdown for 150 people, coffee bar, and takeout counter, the whole schmear from chef Mark Harris and caterer Jeff Kalinsky. Hours 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Ultimo Coffee has opened a second location, at 22d and Catharine Streets (215-545-3565), beneath Counter Culture coffee's new training center.

Cheesesteak wars

Two South Philadelphians are getting together for a fun competition. Frank Olivieri, owner of Pat's King of Steaks, who slices and chops beef on grills for a living, will take on Christina Pirello, the vegan chef, cookbook author, and TV personality ( Christina Cooks), in a steak cook-off from 2 to 5 p.m. Oct. 27 outside of Pat's at Ninth and Wharton Streets. A $10 ticket, available at Pat's or via www.christinacooks.com, will get you a sandwich and voting rights. Proceeds will go to the Christina Pirello Health Education Initiative, which creates programs in schools and for TV.

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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