East Passyunk Ave. Teeming With James Beard Semi-Finalists; Vedge and Opa Score Lofty Praise

Will's Christopher Kearse is in the running for "Rising Star Chef"
Will's Christopher Kearse is in the running for "Rising Star Chef" Photo: Will BYOB

In case you missed it, the James Beard Foundation dropped its annual list of restaurant and chef semi-finalists. No surprise here: big names like Marc Vetri, Stephen Starr, and Fountain Restaurant and Vetri’s eponymous flagship all make the list. But the big news is, Vernick Food & Drink is up for “Best New Restaurant,” Artisan Boulanger Patissier’s Andre Chin and Amanda Eap are in the running for “Outstanding Pastry Chef,” and Monk’s Tom Peters is on list for “Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional.”

East Passyunk Avenue’s booming restaurant row scored three nods, with Will BYOB’s Christopher Kearse and Le Virtu’s Joe Cicala making the “Rising Star Chef” list, and aforementioned Artisan Boulanger Patissier on the pastry list. Meanwhile Bibou’s Pierre Calmels, Kanella’s Konstantinos Pitsillides, Tashan’s Sylva Senat, Amis’ Brad Spence, Fond’s Lee Styer, and Barbuzzo’s Marcie Turney, and Zeppoli’s Joey Baldino are all up for “Best Chef Mid-Atlantic.”

The JBF announcement is hardly the only prestige local restaurateurs are bringing home. Here’s a quick run-down:

Details named Opa one of this country’s best new greek restaurants, heaping praise upon the Midtown Village spot’s Feta-stuffed bifteki burger, and its Drury Beer Garden.

• Alan Richman ranked Vedge number three on GQ‘s “The 12 Most Outstanding Restaurants of 2013” list.