Le Virtu will soon be taking “il Campo” much more literally.
Italian for farm, the phrase “il Campo” had been bestowed upon the grassy area that has graced the restaurant nearly since its debut in 2008. Now, owners Francis Cratil Cretarola and Cathy Lee are tearing up the grass and replacing it with an elaborate stone patio with room for a vegetable garden, spice trellis and herb bushes.
Plans call for an outside kitchen underneath a pergola at the rear of the patio.
Boxwood containers planted with herb bushes, including “creeping thyme,” “prostrate rosemary,” “upright rosemary” and many more, will ring the patio, according to a rendering by Urban Jungle. The garden and spice trellis are planned for the wall next to the mural.
There will be a fireplace and seating for more than 50 additional diners, including what looks like a bar overlooking the outside kitchen. The current outside patio adjacent to the building, at 1927 E. Passyunk Ave., will remain.
The grassy area has always made for extra seating at picnic tables in summer months, when they take out a grill and serve another menu of grilled delights. In 2010, dearly departed Inquirer food writer (from the paper, not the Earth) Rick Nichols summed it up il Campo the best:
The menu of “grilled stuff” here includes a few other alfresco favorites—shrimp skewers over panzanella; rib eye with arugula and cherry tomato; crunchy strips of house-cured pork belly with salad greens.
Here’s hoping they bring back that happy hour from last summer (from Meal Ticket):
We caught wind that they’re kicking off a weeknight happy hour there from 5 to 7 each evening. Plan on whiling away those twilight hours with $3 beers from LV’s well-curated craft list or a L’Aquila, a bright blend of gin, saffron, grapefruit and basil. … On special are a porchetta panino, Affettato Misto, a selection of his out-of-this-world house-cured salumi including prosciutto di Philly, cotechino and n’duja, a firey spreadable salame.
We’re excited for this new patio, though Cicala was on to something with this idea:
We should forget building a new patio and just put in a pool instead. #swimupbar
— Joe Cicala (@Joe_Cicala) March 11, 2013