By Pat Ciarrocchi
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Marc Vetri is a Philadelphia chef who is known for taking risks on his restaurant locations.
For “lucky number 7” as he calls it, Vetri is betting on the Navy Yard for his newest venture – Lo Spiedo.
“It is a little hot, but you get used it to, right?,” asked Marc Vetri rhetorically, walking between the stainless steel food prep line and the stoves and ovens.
The flaming heat of the kitchen with the flames very evident is the fuel that inspires him.
“You get used to the heat. This is nothing.”
Especially on this opening day at Lo Spiedo, the wood fire is burning brightly.
It’s Vetri’s newest entry to his list of Italian eateries.
“Low Spee-A-doe,” Vetri stretches out the pronunciation to help his interviewer imbed the correct way to say the name.
“I know everyone is going to say it wrong. They’re going to make up names like they do at all the restaurants.”
The names do dance with Italian accents. Vetri, the flagship opened in 1998, Osteria (2007), Amis (2010), Alla Spina (2012), Pizzeria Vetri (2013) and Osteria Moorestown (2013).
In Italian, Lo Spiedo means – the spit. Nearly everything is wood fired.
“We have roasted fish. We have all different sorts of meats, port ribs, we have wings.”
But it’s all presented against a backdrop of steel gray.
Vetri has planted Lo Spiedo – this seventh restaurant – near the entrance to the Navy Yard.
Some ships are still in dock, but it’s the largely ignored, and hungry workers who populate the business campus that’s given the Navy Yard new life that inspires Vetri.
“Everyone’s like there’s nowhere to eat, there’s nowhere to eat,” said Vetri.
In September, 1998, Vetri’s Spruce Street flagship, bearing his name built an eager following. But it was Osteria on North Broad Street that raised hopes in 2007. Wasn’t that location too much a risk?
“I’m not looking at it.. it’s a huge risk to go down to the Navy yard, it’s a risk to go to North Broad. I analyze them and they’re not risky to me,” Vetri said. “There’s this energy, crazy exciting.”
At Lo Spiedo, there are 130 seats inside. A hundred more to come outside.
Mark Dezura was the first lunch customer on opening day, starting with an appetizer of fried mozzarella.
“It’s spit roasted meats, which are some of my favorite stuff,” said Dezura.
“I love to hang out at their (The Vetri) restaurants.”
Vetri opens with dinner seven days a week, lunch added Monday through Friday, and eventually, there will be brunch, and catering. Right now, Lo Spiedo is ready to handle “to-go” too.
Moments before opening, the wait-staff was polished and primed. The kitchen line was sizzling and humming with giant trays of caramel corn, getting a good look and a taste from the chef himself.
What the caramel corn for?
“Dessert!” Vetri announced.
Learn how to say it – “Low Spee-A-doe.”
It will make the Chef really happy.
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