One of early summer's most eagerly anticipated restaurant and bar openings is Varga Bar, which is going into the former Azul Cantina space at 10th and Spruce. Why all the hype? Well, besides all the usual thrill over a new opening, it's the latest restaurant from chef R. Evan Turney, of Valanni and Mercato [menupages]. The wait is over TOMORROW VARGA BAR OPENS IN CENTER CITY.
Monday night was their Friends & Family party. It's here that invited guests try out various food on the menu, and enjoy free spirits.
Veteran reporters A.D. Amorosi, writer & music critic for - Philadelphia City Paper with Bobbie Booker longtime reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune. When these two get together some of the skeletons of Philadelphia come unearthed and stories are never ending.
Jennifer Karwoski, Chris and Dr. Krista Gabello. Is it me or does Chris Gabello look like Ashton Kutcher? The other night I was at Del Frisco's for dinner and noticed that Chris shot the menu cover, and each menu had his name and info right there next to the bone in steak. Talk about great PR. In addition to a clever picture. I should have asked Chris who's idea it was to make the cast iron gate the menu cover, as it was very clever.
Robert Johnson, Jess Matthews, Abby Robbins and Michael Cavacini
Ian is the bar manager and has an impressive education in Beer . Ian tells me that the Varga Bar has a 20-tap draft system pouring Russian River Damnation, Allagash Curieux Tripel Reserve, and a Founders duo: bourbon barrel-aged, 9.2% Backwoods Bastard, and the coffee-tinged Breakfast Stout.
From the time Esquire first introduced America to the Varga Girl, in 1940, the name Vargas has been synonymous with pin-up and glamour art. In fact, the word "vargas" has actually been applied to almost every kind of pin-up subject - a fitting tribute to the most famous and prolific glamour artist of all time. Owner George Anni tells me that he's been an admirer of Alberto Vargas since childhood and it's a dream to have
someone like artist John Aden Albright paint a mural on the ceiling of the Varga Bar with his conception of the Vargas Pin Up Girls. On the left is Leslie John Koeser, the designer of the restaurant. He said that John Anni was very specific in the design and color of the space so it was easy to capture his vision.
Foobooz also has great details on Varga Bar. Foobooz's Kirsten Henri and Arthur Ectchis try out the food. Kirsten was doing her best Jennifer Aniston, my arch enemy. Who by the way is again on a magazine cover in which I am published this week, she is stalking me.
64oz takeout growlers also available. For about $25 you can purchase one of these. Another $25 bucks is take out of one of your favorite brews. Refillable for another $20 on your return visits.
I stopped by on Friday for the employee tasting and lesson on the various beers to be served and was able to shoot what is sure to be a hit on the menu, this cheeseburger with an abundance of fries. City Paper's Meal Ticket has the menu for the Varga Bar listed here: http://tinyurl.com/qjcfgg
Diane Johnson and Christian DiCicco enjoy a bite to eat
Menu Pages has a good summary of what to eat at the Varga Bar as well as the alcohol Content for the beers
I look forward to seeing if Foobooz's Arthur Ectchis and Kirsten Henri mark this as a favorite al fresco dining spot as it should fit about 26 outdoor seatings.
Something from Phoodie: There will be 20 taps and 2 pumps for beer. Selection will be a combination that includes craft, micro, local and Belgium beers
· There will still be tequilas and margaritas, a nod to its past as Azul Cantina
· Small wine list and cheeses
· Menu will be “good ole American bar food,” including Broiled Flounder, fish-and-chips and steak frites with Béarnaise
· The bar will seat 14; there will be 48 additional seats at tables inside; 32 outside seats”
(Seriously have you ever seen a bar/restaurant with this much pre publicity? I think the publicity did a great job at targeting all the right market's, young beer loving connoisseurs who read Blogs and Michael Klein's column.)
The new American bar from the team that has brought us Valanni and Mercato. The bar is aiming to open the week of May 18th. Matt & Melody Duffy (Which is so easy for the monogram towels) Nicholas Fritzhand (world traveler, dancer, trouble making specialist, bio-ethicist), Randi Edelmen (formerly a counseler at Camp Green Lane, currently Project Manager at Philadelphia magazine & Philadelphia Wedding), Marketing & Public Relations Manager at Park Hyatt Philadelphia Molly O'Shea and Ryan Polk (Clean as a whistle, nothing on the internet about him.)
Toni Crawford and Mariska Bogle, Director of Strategic Planning & Business Development for The Philadelphia Tribune
Troy Cassel and Zeke Stokes are both very involved in a wonderful organization : The Trevor Project
Not only will you enjoy the fabulous food, beer and service, but they have a jukebox!! A juke box can make or break a place for me, and I loved the selection and the cool look.
Bill Donahue and Patrick Mullen
Regina Mandell, Grasshopper, Jimmy "Style" Contreras (His store is just days away from opening) and Daily Candy's Meredith Lindemon (who would like to meet Joshua from Philly Thrillist as he has the testosterone version of her site)
The Franklin's Kat Stein, Chris Lehman (who has a blog for MENSA folks www.practicaltheory.org/) and PR wonder Matthew Vlahos, vlahospr.com
George and Valerie Anni (Valanni, get it?), back row Stephanie Altes, and Nancy PalumboI forgot to mention the ice cream. One patron said "WOW who expected that ice cream could be improved." There were two flavors passed around, one was cookies & cream, the other Apple Jacks. Yummy. I liked them both, but Apple Jacks was delicious.