Barra Hits the Old City Dining Scene
Barra, the most recent addition to hit historic Old City’s dining scene, is the younger sibling to sister establishment Birra. Gorgon Dinerman, with partner Rob LaScala, has transformed the former spaces of Rocchino’s and Azione into a hip – multi-purpose restaurant slash late night lounge. Barra is stunning, boasting high ceilings, exposed brick, and dim lighting to create a rustic yet elegant décor. The space is inviting and charming, much like its inspired creator Gorgon Dinerman.
Throughout our meal Dinerman stopped by our table several times to “check in” on us, as well as to invite our feedback on the cuisine, service, and overall experience. As many members of our supper party had dined at Birra in the past, we immediately noticed the absence of the signature “Birra Bowls,” which are typically a staple in my order when eating at the East Passayunk location (particularly the unbelievably rich and delicious mac’n cheese bowl). After our waitress gave us a rather confused look, we quickly realized the tradition must not have transcended Washington Avenue. However, she must have mentioned our strange inquiry to Dinerman as he immediately stopped by to discuss the mouth-watering dish and how he intended to keep it as a unique offering exclusive to Birra.Our initial disappointment about the Birra Bowls faded almost immediately however, as a spectacular parade of decadent dishes was paraded from the kitchen to our cozy back table.
The menu, is robust and designed to be shared and enjoyed family style. Barra, as described by Dinerman, is “Birra’s younger but more dynamic sibling” and offers a slightly more upscale menu and bar program, in addition to an “after dark” lounge scene. My personal menu favorites included “The Asparago,” a pizza dish which consists of fresh asparagus, goat’s cheese, crisp prosciutoo, cracked pepper and a fried egg in addition to the Red Mussels prepared with peroni, herb butter, fresh garlic, cured tomatoes, chilies, and fresh herbs. While the pizzas are certainly a highlight, the menu also features more sophisticated pasta dishes such as the Mint Pappardaelle with Maine Lobster and a rosa sauce.
Barra is expected to be open seven days a week for lunch, dinner, happy hour, late night, and Sunday brunch; although lunch and brunch will not debut until later in the summer months. Barra’s late-night menu will feature coal-oven pizza and other bar snacks until 1am, with a DJ performing Thursday-Saturday nights.
Old City Society Hill
239 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Written By: Sara Cahill