Philly’s Branzino Restaurant Unveils New Kitchen, Chef, Menu, Garden

L to R - Owner Luan M. Tota with Chef Mike Stollenwerk and Publicist James Zeleniak at Branzino, Phila PA - Photo by A.D. Amorosi
L to R: Owner Luan M. Tota, Chef Mike Stollenwerk and Publicist James Zeleniak at Branzino Italian Ristorante in Philadelphia, PA

This week in Philadelphia, the stately Branzino Italian Ristorante (261 S 17th Street, 215-790-0103) made several debuts. Not only did Branzino’s owner, Luan M. Tota, introduce the media to his new Executive Chef Mike Stollenwerk, Tota showed off his newly-expanded garden space and his recently excavated hotel-sized kitchen.

Everyone knows Mike Stollenwerk. He was the chef-owner of the 13th and Locust spot, Fish, until Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran took over that corner address earlier this year. Stollenwerk knows the ins-and-outs of oceanic fare. That is certainly reflected in his debut menu for Branzino, from its pasta dishes (Crab Ravioli, Cavatelli with pink shrimp) to his Alaskan Halibut wrapped in speck, as well as his take on the restaurant’s titular dish, Branzino with roasted asparagus with lemon caper butter.

The new kitchen at Branzino
The changes don’t stop at Branzino’s new chef or its menu. Tota has opened up and expanded the backyard garden dining of his 10-year-old Italian-BYOB. He joked about growing herbs for the restaurant on the roof of the patio’s entryway, talked about the new Sunday brunches, and said that he had an ambitious set of plans for the space’s future that he couldn’t discuss yet. What he could discuss was the expansion of his restaurant’s kitchen after having recently purchased the Branzino property. Tota and his construction crew excavated his basement and that of its neighboring space, and turned it into a massive 2,500 square foot labyrinth of kitchen equipment.

We look forward to sampling Branzino's new menu items, and we'll update as Tota reveals his future plans for the space.

To see the menus for Branzino:

Photos ©A.D. Amorosi 2013

Posted on Thursday, May 23, 2013