Michael Klein: A classic bistro opens in Villanova

Dana Smith Farrell and her brother, chef Gregory Smith, in a booth at Avenue Kitchen, which opened Monday in Villanova, behind the post office.
Dana Smith Farrell and her brother, chef Gregory Smith, in a booth at Avenue Kitchen, which opened Monday in Villanova, behind the post office. (MICHAEL KLEIN / Philly.com)
Posted: May 09, 2013

Dana Smith Farrell uses such adjectives as fresh and approachable to describe Avenue Kitchen, the restaurant that she and her brother, Gregory, opened Monday at 789 Lancaster Ave. in Villanova (610-525-3950).

The bar/restaurant occupies a portion of the space previously occupied by Maia and Mixx in the center behind the Villanova post office. The look is timelessly classic bistro, with angled mirrors high on the walls, whitewashed bricks, reclaimed tables and chairs, and neutral, leather-and-velvet banquettes.

Farrell is a partner in the Harvest Seasonal Grills in Glen Mills and University City. With her former husband, she founded Classic Diner in Malvern.

Gregory Smith, a Culinary Institute of America grad who has worked for Georges Perrier, Jean-Marie Lacroix, and Chris Scarduzio, has kept the menu simple: eight sandwiches (including a grilled cheese topped with Black Forest ham, Gruyere, balsamic-poached pear, and Dijon mustard); seven entrees (short rib, meat loaf, salmon, flat-iron steak, day-boat scallops); four pizzas (he uses milk in his dough); six salads; and 10 apps.

It's open for dinner daily. Lunch will start in a few weeks.

What's new

The quick-serve juice and burrito bar Animo - which started five years ago in Haddonfield - just opened in the Arch, across from the Comcast Center at 17th and Arch Streets. Joe and Anthony Gentlesk took advantage of the century-old building, once known as the Robert Morris Building. The Philadelphia menu will be the same as Haddonfield's: juices, burritos, soups, salads, plus many gluten-free items. In fact, the entire Sunday brunch menu is gluten-free. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday brunch.

Nine months after it was destroyed by fire, Lorenzo & Sons is back at 305 South St. with the same $3 pizza slices from 28-inch pies. It's open till 3 a.m. weeknights, till 4 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Owner Giuseppe Pulizzi says he will modify his no-toppings-on-slices rule but will allow them only on Tuesday.

Snack time

Fresh off its Rittenhouse Square opening, Crumbs Bake Shop has landed in Cherry Hill and is headed for Ardmore. Its spot in Cherry Hill Mall, which opened last month, is a kiosk across from the Disney Store. Crumbs has signed for Suburban Square, in the courtyard between Elizabeth Johns and the St. James. It's due to open in June.

The Main Line is home to the region's first Pinkberry fro-yo shop. It debuts Thursday, with a giveaway from 6 to 9 p.m. in Bryn Mawr Square.

What's coming

Gianluca and Rosemarie Demontis of the Rittenhouse Italian BYOB Melograno have inked a lease for a second restaurant, at 816 W. Lancaster Ave. in Bryn Mawr - the former Ha Long Bay next to Verdad and two doors from the Bryn Mawr Film Institute. Fraschetta, which has a June target date, will be a second BYOB. She is designing. He, a native of Rome, is building his Roman menu around slow cooking, especially porchetta d'Ariccia.

Briefly noted

Seeking to become a chef-owner, chef Nicholas Elmi gave notice that he's leaving Rittenhouse Tavern, which he opened a year ago at the Art Alliance on Rittenhouse Square. Elmi, 32, said he'd finish the month for corporate parent Restaurant Associates. He plans to open a restaurant - location not yet final - by the end of the year.

Philadelphia will get some face time on BBQ Pitmasters, the Destination America reality series that has teams of cooks smoking and grilling for money and glory. Glenn Gross of Fat Jack's teams up with his former business partner, Ed Willis (who now owns Lumpy's BBQ in Blackwood). Great casting; they're best buddies/worst enemies. The episode is part of Season 5, which premieres June 2.

Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook say they have concluded what they now describe as a consulting arrangement with Citron & Rose, the kosher restaurant they helped open in November for philanthropist David Magerman in Merion Station. The restaurant will remain in business. (Magerman says the operation will expand to other locations.) Solomonov had been as billed as executive chef. With kosher laws at the heart of the operation, he and Cook were not billed as "owners" because they own restaurants serving non-kosher food ( Zahav, Federal Donuts, Percy Street). In a statement, Cook and Solomonov said chef de cuisine Yehuda Sichel would "return temporarily to Zahav as we work on our next restaurant project."

Also in keeping kosher: Burger.Org - the glatt-kosher burger chain with locations at 19th and Chestnut Streets, Elkins Park, Cherry Hill, and Margate - is prepping to open at a former Dairy Queen at 942 Montgomery Ave. in Narberth, down the road from Citron & Rose.


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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