Food and hospitality veteran Joe Varalli has opened a gastropub in Philadelphia.
Varalli opened his first restaurant, Upstares at Varalli, 22 years ago at the age of 25 then established Sotto, the first seafood restaurant on the Avenue of the Arts in Philadelphia.
Perch Pub will be located in the former Upstares location, which Varalli has merged with Sotto Varalli in his ground floor space. That restaurant will now be known simply as Varalli, with the continued focus on Northern Italian cuisine and seafood.
Perch Pub is named to reflectan elevated place for resting or sitting in a prominent location, and with floor-to-ceiling windows it’s ideal for doing that. The interior has a timeless feel, with rich mahogany finishes, exposed brick and metal beams, and an ever-changing glass mosaic in the main dining room.
The pub features an extensive local selection of craft beers on tap, a full bar and an American-inspired menu of comfort food.
Not your average pub menu, for starters there are Blue Bay garlic mussels; bar snacks include fried sticks of malanga and bird seed (spicy fried black eyed peas); and entrees range from beer-battered wild haddock with fries to a wild boar ragu with rigatoni.
Now open at 4 p.m. seven days a week with plans to add both Monday through Friday lunch and weekend brunch in April, Perch Pub promises pub grub excellence with CIA graduate chef Bill Carroll at the helm.
The tap list keeps it local—within a 151 miles—with 12 featured drafts changing daily. The extensive bottle and can list currently stands at 104 and counting. A prominent selection of bourbons, whiskeys, and Scotches (including house-infusions) are also featured.
Quoting Picasso, Varalli says, “‘It takes a long time to grow young.’ Over the last two decades I’ve watched the city’s dining scene grow seemingly faster than the tech bubble. Much of this has been driven by a new generation of patrons. They are very food-savvy and enjoy their beer, wine and cocktails and are not cuisine- specific.
“At Perch Pub, one patron may be enjoying a braised lamb shank while another at the same table is savoring a taco. I felt it was time for a change; time to expose my unique second floor location to a new flock.”