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Nick Elmi of Laurel Launches New Bar, ITV: Inside Look

The newest concept from Nicholas Elmi, ITV, is now open next door to his flagship restaurant, Laurel, on Passyunk Avenue (in fact, the name “ITV” stands for “In The Valley,” which is what “Passyunk” means in the Lenape language). Drink Philly had the chance to head to ITV and speak directly to Elmi, who gave us some insight into how ITV came to be and how he sees it in relation to Laurel.

Since the space that contains both Laurel and ITV does have a liquor license (Laurel is frequently billed as a “full service restaurant with no corking fee” rather than a traditional BYOB), the original idea was to simply expand Laurel into what is now the ITV space next door. However, Elmi decided to go with a separate concept — while Laurel will remain a small restaurant which is still the hardest reservation in Philadelphia, ITV will be a no-reservations, walk-in neighborhood bar.

The two spaces have separate kitchens and (mostly) separate staffs, and Elmi said his goal is for “employees to treat the two restaurants like they’re ten blocks apart.” The space, with its simple marble countertop, intricate lighting fixtures, copper details and dark wood, features a bar with plenty of seating and its own unique menu separate from Laurel. The design was inspired by bars like Four Horsemen (in Brooklyn) and Wildair (in New York) — as Elmi described it, he wanted a look that was “elegant without being over the top.” The music, which perfectly suits the space, was curated by a record shop on Passyunk specifically for ITV.

Sommelier Heather Sharp, who has trained in Chicago and at Philly’s own Abe Fisher, helped curate the wine list, working with mostly Old World wines, and with 17 varieties by the glass (and likely more on the way), guests will have plenty of options. For beer, the bar will feature 6 taps with 1 cider, 4 draft beers, and 1 open tap, and as for cocktails, Elmi and his team have created a menu of approachable, delicious cocktails perfect for summer drinking.

The cocktail menu spans from a twist on the martini (the gin-based Gossamer) to the Navigator (a rum drink with housemade elderberry cordial) to the bourbon-based Avenue, which has reportedly been quite popular. Another popular choice has been the Brava, a tequila-based drink reminiscent of smoky mezcal. Elmi hopes to make syrups and cordials in house as much as possible, especially when it comes to fresh fruit.

The cocktail program will likely evolve with the restaurant, but the team at ITV plans to see which drinks do especially well and then keep at least a few “signature” drinks around, so that regulars can depend on their favorite drinks sticking around.

ITV’s food menu is made up of mostly small plates, beginning with snack-sized portions and moving onto larger portions that would work well as an impromptu dinner entree, and Elmi recommends ordering a few small plates per person.

The food menu, like the cocktail menu, will likely keep some favorites but will remain seasonal and locally sourced, as the produce comes from local farms (as it does at Laurel as well). The entire menu is designed for sharing, so everyone at the table can give everything a try.

Absolutely stop into ITV to try their seasonal cocktails, delicious small plates, and just to enjoy the ambiance and space — Laurel may be hard to book, but ITV promises to bring Laurel’s level of care and craftsmanship to a more casual neighborhood bar.

ITV, 1615 East Passyunk Ave.; 267-858-0669

Photos via DrinkPhilly 

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