6/07/2012 04:03:00 PM

New Brunch Options: Alla Spina, Rittenhouse Tavern, SoWe

What’s not to love about brunch? Overflowing plates of sweets that would raise eyebrows at dessert are accepted as a main course, bacon is featured everywhere and nobody looks at you sideways if you order a cocktail, even before noon. Three of Philly’s newest restaurants have recently entered the daytime weekend game, with selections enticing enough to drag you out of bed, even after a late night on the town.

The huge rollup garage doors at Alla Spina on North Broad let in an abundance of sunlight, making Marc Vetri’s beer bar an attractive midday hang. On Sundays from 10 AM-3 PM, head to the large, industrial-chic space to indulge in dishes like lemon poppy seed pancakes with strawberry maple syrup and basil butter or testina hash poutine. Entrees run $12-$16, but you won’t want to miss the optional sides, which include rhubarb-ricotta donuts or brown sugar bacon. Add sparkle to your meal with a Bellini (prosecco with strawberry) or the unique birmosa - Peroni with mango juice (1410 Mt. Vernon St.; 215-600-0017).

Sun also enhances the outdoor courtyard at Rittenhouse Tavern, just south of the park in the Philadelphia Art Alliance building, and the new brunch, served Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM-3 PM, is a perfect time to catch the dappled light. Chef Nicholas Elmi has come up with a wide ranging menu, equally satisfying to someone looking for a light start to the day (go for the steel cut oatmeal or charcuterie plate with pickles and purple mustard) or wanting to go all out - think hanger steak, braised pork belly or turkey schnitzel ($6-$28). On the liquid side, try the Golden Wallbanger - a Harvey with a float of Grand Marnier - or the Tavern Lemonade, with Don Q rum and mint from the herb garden out back (251 S. 18th St.; 215-732-2253).

At Graduate Hospital neighborhooder SoWe, brunchtime mains top out at $18 (steak 'n' eggs), but average around $13. A rarity in our city (to our constant disappointment), croque madame shows up on the menu here, properly constructed on brioche with ham, Gruyère and tarragon bechamel. Half a dozen sandwich choices include crab cake, grilled cheese and pork belly pastrami, all served with fries and a Tobasco mayonnaise dipping sauce. To drink, choose from the extensive beer and wine list, or go nuts with a chocolate bacon martini - BaKon vodka with chocolate hazelnut liqueur (918 S. 22nd St.; 215-545-5790).


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