The garage door is wide open, serving as an open invitation to stop in.
By Bil Gelman
This open, friendly space features a bar with 24 beers on tap, comfy leather orange booths paired with small tables to create a restaurant ambiance, with a menu featuring comfort foods such as meatloaf, pizza and chicken.
Come Saturday, April 22, the garage door will be open daily, at least while the weather permits, as Washington Avenue’s newest foodie destination — Chick’s, 1805–07 Washington Ave. — opens to the public. Gina Cedrone-Narducci, a former String Theory Schools teacher and administrator, is starting a new career in the restaurant biz with husband Phillip Narducci, who has previous experience in the food and entertainment industry, and who will help on the management end. The gastropub and pizza shop is named in honor of Phillip’s father — Frank “Chickie” Narducci Sr., who had his life cut short in 1982.
“My wife is retired and wanted to do a little something,” Phillip said.
The passion project, which has been more than a year in the works, has involved gutting the more than 2,800-square feet of space. Besides talking about bringing the “Wow!” to food, contractors have been working around the clock, getting the place ready for its big public unveiling. It’s not uncommon to find members of the management team holding brainstorming sessions in the makeshift office space, which is being transformed into a smaller space for customers looking to grab a quick bite. Take-out and delivery service is in the works, too.
But the food, especially the pizza, is going to be the conversation piece here. The kitchen staff is led by executive chef Fred Ryan and pizzaioli Jennifer Choplin, with both being familiar faces on the Philly culinary scene. Choplin, who was trained by Brigantessa co-owner Joe Cicala, and Ryan, formerly of Devil’s Den and White Dog Cafe, are putting the finishing touches on a menu featuring “upscale comfort food.” Chick’s Burger, made with short rib, chuck and dry-aged brisket and finished with a special sauce, panko-crusted chicken parm with ricotta and red gravy on a garlic roll and Pho mussels in a lemongrass broth with bean sprouts are just a few of the dishes guests can looking forward to enjoying.
General manager and beverage director Ilona Ahearn, who began her restaurant career at The Victor Cafe, and assistant manager Jayne Campbell are the other members of the management team. They share the common goal of making Chick’s the new go-to spot for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a late-night snack. The restaurant opens at 11 a.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. on weekends for brunch. The hours for the take-out section are 7 a.m.-11 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m.-1 a.m. weekends.
“People looking for a place to hang can come here, enjoy some good food and be part of our family,” Gina said.
Grand opening party
Instead of simply reading about Washington Avenue’s hottest new foodie destination, come check out and taste what Chick’s is all about. The Narduccis are introducing Chick’s to the public in true South Philly fashion — a block party. It’s one of those starts at 4 p.m., and ends whenever festivities.
The outside offerings will include free pizza and cannoli. Inside, there will be cocktails and a full menu available for purchase.
There will plenty of entertainment, too, with The Business, The Cultour, DJ Johnny Looch, 2017 South Philly Review Difference Maker Felicia Punzo, Ben Marsella, Sonny Averona Jr., Gabby Delisi along with Antonia & Dan.