Growing up, Marcie Spampinato watched her father, Mike, masterfully manage a local country club. By seventh grade, she was working alongside him, and today—with a restaurant management degree from Penn State under her belt—she joins with Mike to co-manage their steak-and-sushi joint, Spamps.
Chefs trained in Japan artfully stuff the eatery's sushi rolls with fresh ingredients such as black-pepper-crusted tuna and flying fish roe. Fusion flourishes such as kimchi tartar sauce, miso beurre blanc, and sake reductions give entrees such as rib-eye steak an Asian flair.
And much like a chocoholic's dream journal, the eatery's new cocktails revolve around sweet flavors, especially Marcie's favorite, the pumpkin-pie martini. Libations, which also include wine and beer, flow freely behind a copper bar with TVs or fill glasses in a dining room with exposed brick walls and private booths. At an outdoor patio dubbed The Grotto, lofted TVs illuminate trellises and tabletops as well as bar-goers shimmying to a live DJ's beats on Friday and Saturday nights.
Chic contemporary surroundings, dozens of fine wines, and thick cuts of prime choice beef?KC Prime sets the stage for an upscale dining experience. But the restaurant goes beyond steak. Whether diners visit the New Jersey or Warrington location, they can delight in a dinner of sesame-crusted ahi tuna, tender baby back ribs, crab-cake sandwiches, or Scottish salmon with mustard spaetzle. But the main event, of course, is the beef?filet mignon with bourbon sweet-potato mash, succulent prime rib with wasabi mashed potatoes, and a hefty chunk of porterhouse drizzled with a peppercorn steak sauce.
Everything about Reserve exudes swank. Dark wood-paneled rooms and crimson curtains, more than 100 aged bourbons, and a cigar lounge—not to mention contributions from the menu such as organic steak and wild king salmon—work to redefine locals’ impressions of fine dining. Those morsels share tabletop space with entrees including roast duck breast and striped bass, the likes of which chefs lavish with seasonings such as pancetta butter, green peppercorn cream, and truffle chicken broth. The kitchen’s culinary artists also craft morsels of oyster and lobster at a raw bar whose offerings rival the bounty of Poseidon’s larder.
Reserve’s mixologists take over at the bar, where the restaurant’s cache of bourbons pour alongside a dozen draft beers, specialty cocktails, and an array of wines from the grapevines and bottle-growing bushes of California. While perched upon black leather stools amid corinthian pillars, guests also can listen to strands of live jazz as they take in everything.
Under the guidance of chef Tim Bennett, the cooks at Marmont Steakhouse and Bar hand carve tender steaks and prepare fresh seafood, lamb, and chicken dishes. The eatery's diverse steak offerings include lean cuts of filet mignon wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon or topped with crabmeat and sliced asparagus. In warmer months, patrons enjoy outdoor seating that harks back to the days before the invention of walls. Marmont enlists a regular stable of DJs and live musicians to perform throughout the week, with an international wine list and dozens of martinis to embolden listeners to dance.
Dry-Aged Steaks | Raw Bar | Old-School Cocktails | Celebrity Restaurateur | Classic Hollywood Ambiance
Celebrity Restaurateur: Since opening his first eatery at age 21, Stephen Starr has catapulted to the top of Philadelphia's dining scene with his 20-plus STARR Restaurants. His seamless integration of theatrical surroundings and flavorful, upscale cuisine has earned him myriad honors and acclaim, including the informal title of "Philly’s restaurant king" from Bon Appétit.
The Vibe: Vaulted ceilings, sparkling chandeliers, and a bull's head preside over this former brokerage house, whose dark woods and intimate lighting pay homage to the classic era of Hollywood.
While You're Waiting: Grab a libation at the chophouse's horseshoe-shaped bar, which Frommer's lauds as "the perfect spot for a spot of bourbon."
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Load up on great reads at Joseph Fox Bookshop (1724 Sansom Street), a Rittenhouse Square fixture since 1951.
After: Snap along to the smooth sounds of live music at Chris' Jazz Cafe (1421 Sansom Street).
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Try one of Stephen Starr's other restaurants, such as The Dandelion Pub (124 S. 18th Street), which puts an upscale twist on classic British pub grub.
At Tokyo Hibachi & Sushi, every meal is a production. Surrounded by seated guests, the hibachi chefs put on a performance behind the tabletop grills and wow diners with dexterous knife skills and the controlled bursts of flame that bloom from the grills' surfaces. This isn't purely entertainment, though. It's a way for the chefs to engage with their patrons as they cook everything from chicken and vegetables to filet mignon and lobster within full view of the crowd.
In contrast, the sushi chefs opt for a bit less showmanship as they meticulously assemble rolls behind the sushi bar. They create an assortment of familiar sushi-house staples, but they also treat taste buds with specialty maki, including ingredients such as pepper-crusted tuna, fried asparagus, or homemade chili sauce.
Befitting their main-stage status, the hibachi stations dominate almost an entire room of the dining area. Japanese-style lanterns, artwork, and mementos mirror the menu's dedication to Pacific culture, and the bar's selection of sakes and imported water complements the restaurant's commitment to Japanese flavors.