The word is out on what star chef Marc Vetri was up to when he bought a 125-year-old butcher shop in South Philly, just off the iconic Italian Market. Vetri is turning what was Fiorella’s Sausage into a casual Italian eatery modeled after a pasta pop-up he did at his landmark restaurant Vetri Cucina, and he’s keeping the name: Fiorella should open mid-fall at 817 Christian Street.
“We did the pop-up at Vetri, upstairs at the counter — one Friday we announced we were doing this pasta bar, with five or six pastas on the menu and a few appetizers and salads, and the line started at 5 p.m.,” Vetri says. “There was a three-hour wait to get in and we just made pasta all night long. It was so much fun.”
The chef started to think he’d like to open a little restaurant with 12 or so seats and recreate the pop-up on a nightly basis. He says he wasn’t in a hurry — in the meantime he opened a 75-seat Vetri Cucina in Las Vegas — but when the Fiorella building came on the market, it felt like a perfect fit. “My father’s family was raised one block away from there. With the history, with knowing everyone in the area, it just felt right. It spoke to me,” Vetri says.
Dan and Trisha Fiorella gave the go-ahead to use their butcher shop’s name, and they’re also going to play a role in the new restaurant, making the sausage for a sausage ragu that will always be on the menu, Vetri says.
Expect him to be in the kitchen often, along with a chef he’ll be bringing over from Vetri Cucina. He’s looking into getting a limited liquor license that allows for local wine, beer, and spirits. Bringing your own alcohol will also be an option.
Fiorella will be open five nights a week, with counter seating only: “Everyone’s going larger, I’m going smaller,” Vetri says. The other evenings he plans to use the space for guest chef dinners and pop-ups.
“It’s going to be super fun,”he says. “Come in, have a glass of wine, a bowl of pasta, and leave.”
Vetri was also in the news last week, when it was announced that he replaced Kevin Sbraga as the culinary consultant at the new Fitler Club, a members-only lifestyle club in Center City.