The folks behind the upcoming Brigantessa, which is planned for a summer opening in what is now Karina’s at 1520 E. Passyunk Ave., have already commissioned the handmade wood-burning oven that will be the centerpiece of the restaurant.
The heart of the restaurant will be the centrally located wood-burning oven, a show-stopping piece of equipment that is manufactured to order from Italy and hand-made from volcanic ash. Shipped via month-long boat journey directly from Naples, Chef [and co-owner Joe] Cicala and his team will install the enormous oven through a side window, and the entire restaurant will revolve around it, with trained pizzaioli throwing dough and Chef Cicala himself manning the flames.
The restaurant plans to serve wood-fired pizzas and oven-baked dishes, plus house-cured meats, seasonal antipasti and a “generous selection of hard-to-find Italian wine and beer,” many of which will both be on tap. Other highlights, according to a news release, include:
- “This restaurant will embrace the rich culinary traditions found in the regions of Campagnia, Puglia, Calabria, Sicilia and Basilicata and the unpretentious, live-in-the-moment spirit of those peoples – welcoming, laid back and the kind of place you can’t wait to come back to, again and again,” Cicala said.
- Chef Cicala will age his own salumi and display it, along with a rotating selection of antipasti, salads and Italian cheeses, at room temperature at the bar.
- A selection of traditional napoletana street fare, such as frittatine di pasta – delicious golden orbs, breaded and fried, filled with mozzarella affumicata and prosciutto cotto – will be cooked to order.
- “Brigantessa is named for the female briganti, legendary Robin Hood-like figures that resisted the historic unification of Italy and continued doing so even after the north came into power.”
And in case you weren’t aware. Karina’s is not disappearing. They’re moving to a new home across from the fountain next to Fond. Construction has already begun, and Karina’s last service in their current location will be for East Passyunk’s restaurant week. Find more about those specials here.