Think pasta infused with black truffles. Coffee beans collected from three continents and roasted locally to bring out notes of dried plum, pan dolce and dark chocolate. Extra virgin olive oil soap made in Tuscany. You’ll find these enticing products at Gran Caffe L’Aquila’s new market. And, the authentic Italian restaurant is not the only Philadelphia eatery that is now offering gourmet goodies. Barcelona Wine Bar has added an onsite retail marketplace with a small selection of products beautifully displayed and Bibou BYOB is pivoting from a restaurant into a French charcuterie.
Discover Philly's Best Foodie Finds at New Restaurant Markets
Gran Caffe L’Aquila
Gran Caffe L’Aquila calls itself the “most authentic Italian cafe in America,” and perhaps it is judging from the Italian expats who frequent the place. It had a prime location on the Piazza Duomo in L’Aquila in the Abruzzo region of Italy, where it won Italy’s coveted “Cafe of the Year” award. In 2007, the café and much of the town were felled by an earthquake. Instead of rebuilding in the central Italian city, Riccardo Longo persuaded the owners to reopen in his adopted city of Philadelphia, home to one of the largest Abruzzese populations in the world outside of Abruzzo.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that a restaurant that has already shown so much resilience would figure out how to pivot during the pandemic. Its first floor, once a casual café, is now stocked with pastas, sauces, olive oils, spices, Italian chocolates and sweets, traditional Italian snacks, speciality desserts and more. You can shop there, order products for pick up, have products delivered (in Philadelphia) or order online for national delivery. The restaurant is currently offering indoor dining (with limited capacity) and outdoor seating. The gelato bar, featuring some of the city’s most authentic and delicious gelato, is open for walk-ins.
Not to be missed: If you’ve always secretly-coveted the dashing fedoras worn by the staff at Gran Caffe L’Aquila, you can now get one of your own!
Barcelona Wine Bar
There’s a vibrant tapas bar vibe at Barcelona Wine Bar, which sports a welcoming triangular garden for outside dining and is now open for indoor dining (at 25% capacity). And, if you’d like to take some of that cool vibe home, the new onsite retail marketplace will help you do it. It is also ideal for gifts. Invited to someone’s shore house? A gift from this boutique will undoubtedly help you snag another invitation.
Barcelona’s marketplace is small, but well-curated and beautifully displayed. Books, housewares, glassware and other products can be purchased in person or online, including hand-carved charcuterie boards like the ones used at Barcelona; paella pans, so you can recreate the traditional Valencian communal dish at home; and pantry items, including Maldon Sea Salt, La Dalia Hot Pimentón (Smoked Paprika) and La Boella Olive Oil. Especially tempting are the wine packs, designed for afternoons in the park, sips at home or to imagine you’re on a trip to Spain. The wines are packaged in clever themes like Iconic Reds of Spain, Picnic Pack, Spanish Day Drinking and Women Wine Makers. The products are available in the South Philly restaurant and online.
Not to be missed: Parróns, curvy glass vessels designed to deliver beverages to the mouth without touching. They were first seen in Ancient Egypt, developed by the Romans, made practical by the Catalans and are a signature experience at Barcelona Wine Bar.
After 11 years, Bibou BYOB, considered one of the finest restaurants in Philadelphia, has closed. In late September it will throw open its doors with a whole new concept. The French restaurant will become a French charcuterie.
The husband/wife team of Pierre and Charlotte Calmels plan to offer the quenelles, Pate en crote, terrines, sausages, breads and other French delicacies that won Bibou nationwide acclaim. Plus, French products unavailable anywhere else in Philadelphia -- including traditional French cookies and soaps. Products will be available in-person or people can pre-order online and pick up.
Not to be missed: The Calmels will once again offer three course meals to go starting in mid-October. Meals must be pre-ordered.
Restaurants have been hard hit by the pandemic. But Bibou, Barcelona Wine Bar and Gran Caffe L’Aquila have found ways to pivot that allow foodies to not only enjoy the food but also take much more than a doggie bag home with them.