>> WAITING LIST
The no-sign-to-speak-of Passyunk Tavern, which has been open for the better part of three decades, is in the very, very early stages of an overhaul courtesy of Kristian Leuzzi, whose family owns Kristian's Ristorante at 11th and Federal. Leuzzi says he wants Stogie Joe's to serve "Italian-influenced, very homey" food; plans call for between eight and 10 draught beers, wines by the glass and an antipasti station at the bar that'll feature cured meats, pickled vegetables and the like. Leuzzi stresses that this venture will differ from his elegant namesake location. "It's a neighborhood bar," he says, "and we want to keep it that way."
This new project, slated to open early next week, is backed by Bo Choi, who owns Old City's well-regarded Uzu Sushi Bar (104 Market St.). The 50- to 60-seat restaurant, which replaces the long-standing Peacock on the Parkway ("kujaku" is Japanese for peacock, don't you know), will start out serving breakfast (traditional American, with a few promised "Japanese twists") and lunch (expect reasonably priced Kobe burgers and a selection of sushi). A dinner lounge is currently under construction and will open this spring.
>> CHECK, PLEASE
As a general rule, December through March features more openings than any other time of year (the restaurant reaper often comes knocking for those who dare to debut in the dead of summer). But naturally, the rule of averages exists just to screw with us, meaning some well-loved places have to go. Palumbo's Grill (2104 Chestnut St.), a friendly little sitdown by the First Unitarian that served up one hell of a burger, has a leasing sign in the window; the phone number's disconnected. Café Centraal (1218 Pine St.), which was the Taco House for years before a new owner gave the menu a Middle Eastern edge, is papered up; a sign in the window promises reopening under new management. Lastly, and perhaps most prominently, the lights are out at Lakeside Chinese Deli (207 N. Ninth St.), one of Chinatown's most-revered dim sum restaurants. A sign on the door indicates that the owners — siblings Brenda Leung and Eric Ng — are retiring after close to 20 years in business.