Michael Klein: Sikora resurfaces in Wilmington

Bryan and Andrea Sikora in the bistro side of their La Fia Bakery   Market   Bistro in downtown Wilmington. MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer
Bryan and Andrea Sikora in the bistro side of their La Fia Bakery Market Bistro in downtown Wilmington. MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer
Posted: July 12, 2013

Bryan Sikora is back in business, opening La Fia Bakery + Market + Bistro in downtown Wilmington (421 N. Market St., 302-543-5574), catercorner from World Cafe Live at the Queen.

Sikora and his wife, Andrea, dispense groceries and to-go breakfast and lunch sandwiches, salads, and other prepared foods from a small market, while the bistro side serves lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday (8 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays).

He may be a newcomer to Wilmington, but he's been on the Philly scene since 2001 when he and his now-former wife, Aimee Olexy, opened the BYOB hit Django in Queen Village, followed by a 2005 move to the nearby Brandywine Valley with Talula's Table in Kennett Square. After their split, he knocked around with projects upstate and at the Delaware beaches before he set up the kitchen at the 2011 opening of a.kitchen near Rittenhouse Square. (Olexy still owns Talula's Table and has branched into Washington Square with Talula's Garden and the forthcoming Talula's Daily.)

La Fia's airy, 35-seat bistro (plus outdoor seating eventually) has its original tin ceiling, floors and tables made of reclaimed wood, pendant lighting, eight-seat bar, and murals painted by Sikora himself. La Fia is named for the couple's 2½-year-old daughter, Sofia. (Talula's is named for Sikora and Olexy's daughter, Annalee Talula Rae).

La Fia's menu of breakfast sandwiches (served 8 to 10:30 a.m.) includes "the Moon Shiner" (egg, Surryano ham, Seven Sisters cheese on English muffin) and "the Amigo" (egg, queso fresco, smoked chorizo, salsa, on a corn tortilla). Lunch to go (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) includes a pizza tart, soups, sandwiches served with goose-fat fries, and salads. Dinner menu (entrees will start around $17) includes mushroom lasagna, roasted pork shoulder, braised short rib, fettuccine, and lamb loin.

What's new

Opening this week at 18th and Walnut Streets is a.bar, the cocktail-bar companion to a.kitchen, off the lobby of the similarly undercapitalized aka Rittenhouse Square. Replacing the longtime Kiehl's skin-care shop, a.bar will have at least one new attribute: It will light up a corner of Rittenhouse Square after dark, something that the TD Bank and Anthropologie on the other corners do not do. Keep in mind that a.bar is tiny - seating 40, including 18 at the pewtered-brass bar. Seven bar seats are set up in front of an oyster shucker. Drink list (26 cocktails), wine list (75 percent whites and a magnum pour every day) and beer list (five on draft) are built around the menu, which is mostly of the raw-bar variety; dessert will be a homemade ice cream sandwich of the day. (The food will come out of a.kitchen's kitchen.) Edward Asfour of Asfour Guzy, who also designed a.kitchen, has opted for a minimalist yet comfortable feel. The pewtered-brass bar is accented by stainless steel, and newly poured floors are of polished concrete. Furniture is white oak, stained dark blue. Swiss-made sound-absorbing ceiling is designed to suck up the din and make conversation possible over the soundtrack of blues, funk and reggae. Hours will be 3 p.m. to midnight daily (lunch is on the way later), and all oysters will be priced at $1.50 from 3 to 6 p.m.

New branches

Nicole Marquis, coping with a daily line out the door of her vegan quick-serve HipCityVeg on 18th Street in Rittenhouse, is planning a second location, to open in September, at 214 S. 40th St. in University City.

Ishkabibble's, which has been doling out sandwiches, Spanish fries, and the lemonade-and-grape-juice drink called the Gremlin at 337 South St. since 1979, is opening a second location. Current owner Young Ahn is taking over the ill-starred pizzeria space at 517 South St. this October for Ishkabibble's II. It will have an expanded menu and 60-plus seats. The original location seats only nine people on stools amid walls festooned with celeb photos, but most of its business is conducted through a takeout window.

Vigyan and Nikki Kaushik, who opened the modern-Indian Spice Kitchen in Trooper two years ago, are saying "late summer" for the opening of a second location, in Towamencin Shopping Center at 1758 Allentown Rd., Lansdale. Same format as the Trooper location.

Moves

July 14 is the finale for Blackbird Dining Establishment and West Side Gravy at 714 Haddon Ave. in Collingswood. Chef/owner Alex Capasso is planning to open Benny's Burger Joint, a sitdown restaurant, at the same location. "Simple but interesting" is how Capasso described Benny's, named after his 9-year-old son. Benny's will have waiter service. The menu will have some flourishes, such as burgers on doughnuts and a burger-on-grilled cheese sandwich. Capasso, who emphasized that he is still high on Collingswood, said Blackbird would work better in Center City and plans to relocate it there this fall.


Contact Michael Klein at mklein@philly.com.

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