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Feb 4, 2005 08:50 AM

New Place, New Neighborhood

  • j

We tried a new place in the Northern Liberties Section of Philadelphia. The neighborhood is one of those growing avant- garde areas of the city that we do not often venture to, sticking mainly to CC or Manayunk to try new places (not that there aren’t great places there). I was surprised to find a bustling 2nd St. with several established and new spots. Myself, and 3 old friends ventured into Sovalo (sp?)- 2nd and Fairmount After a stay at the bar we were seated. The restaurant has a great continuity about it, uses the old style Philadelphia space well. Great antique and marble bar too. I truly enjoyed the atmosphere inside on what was otherwise a tolerable Philly winter night. The menu is Italian cuisine. I had an outstanding pork tenderloin over soft polenta dish. Great place in a great part of the city that to me was an uncovered jewel. I think many folks will probably know this area of the city already but it was a welcome change for us suburbanites who seem to venture to CC or Manayunk with far too much regularity. Any one know any other spots in Northern Liberties worth a try?

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  1. Ah, Northern Liberties. My old home!

    Azure Restaurant: vacation syle cuisine, inexpensive. good mojitos. faves: seitan tips, filet tips, sunday brunch in general.

    Standard Tap: fantastic pub fare, local beers. good burgers. try a stoudts gold, anything yards. not a fan of any victory beers. bad sunday brunch.

    North Third: slightly more upscale pub food, amazing atmosphere, the best place to spend a few hours. more welcoming locals than those at the standard tap. food is not as good as standard tap. stay away from the hummus dish (way too much garlic).

    700 club: artsy trendy hangout for 20 something drinkers. i love it, but it surely fits a certain crowd. nice beer selection on the first floor, and they have delerium tremens by the bottle.

    Aden: never been but very popular with chowhounders.

    Il Cantuccio (sp?): looks terrible to me... anyone been and like it? tiny italian restaurant that looks dirty.

    Abbaye: good for grabbing a belgian beer, stay away from the food.

    Kind Cafe: vegan take out, try if you like the taste of raw dirt.

    Druid's Keep: the best of all the drinking hangouts. this bar is the most relaxed, welcoming, casual of them all.

    Kissen Tempura: much like kisso, this place may serve great food, but the cold, quiet atmosphere is just too offputting to let someone relax.

    Ministy of Information: not intended for anyone but locals. avoid.

    Sovalo used to be Pigalle- the issue with Pigalle was that the owner did not know how to manage money and the restaurant was simply too stuffy to fit into Northern Liberties. hopefully sovalo will not make the same mistake.


    6 Replies
    1. re: Saturninus

      Thanks, we are going to keep trying the area, Aden next...

      1. re: John Cip

        When at Aden, if you're not ethically opposed, get the rack of lamb! I had it last week and it was SO good. But generally I've really liked everything there except for the moroccan cigar appetizer which was just so-so.

        1. re: Adrienne

          Thank you for all the good reviews. No matter how good the reviews are, we are always trying to improve. Sorry about the cigars.

      2. re: Saturninus

        We used to love Il Cantuccio. The last time we went (about a year ago) it was disappointing.

        1. re: Saturninus

          The REAL issue with Pigalle is that there were two owners ( i happen to know them both) who were partners in the venture. One was involved(created and operated), one wanted out after they ended their personal relationship. From what i know, she was the one in charge of the finances and basically forced t the restaurant to close so that she could do some legal maneuvering and take control to force a sale and get her money back...or so she had hoped.
          This was all very unfortunate, since we had gotten to know the couple by being regulars at Pigalle.
          As far as being stuffy...Pigalle was probably one of the warmest and hospitable places in the city...it added a much needed fresh coat of paint on the weathered look of the area. .. I think its closing has been a big blow for the direction of Northern Lib as anything more than an area with some great pubs.

          1. re: Saturninus

            Thanks for the Northern Liberties scoop. My wife are going exploring this afternoon (in the heatwave). I will post my experience.

          2. i agree, Sovalo had center city-quality dining in an unintimidating atmosphere. i had the pork also and it was excellent. i'm not from the neighborhood so hte only other places i know serve good, but common, pub fare.

            1. i agree, Sovalo had center city-quality dining in an unintimidating atmosphere. i had the pork also and it was excellent. i'm not from the neighborhood so hte only other places i know serve good, but common, pub fare.