Only blocks away from South Street, Queens Village is home to many intimate fine dining establishments. These restaurants allow the dinner to enjoy smaller menus based on seasonal offerings and lots of specials. We recently got to experience Ela by Chef Jason Cichonski which was opened in November 2011 combining a menu of innovative dishes in a rustic-modern setting.
Before Ela, Cichonski opened Chip Roman’s Chestnut Hill restaurant Mica, another of the best-reviewed restaurants in the region. Prior Cichonski also served as executive chef of Lacroix at the Rittenhouse Hotel when he was just 24 years old. Lacroix was one of the city’s only “Four Bells: Superior” fine dining restaurants at the time. Born and raised in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County, Chef Cichonski is a graduate of University City’s The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College and currently resides in Philadelphia.
We experienced the 4 course Chef’s tasting menu which includes dessert. They also offer a 6 course Chefs tasting menu where you will be surprised by the menu selected by Chef Cichonski himself. We began with a light bite of fresh Crudo seasoned with fresh fennel and black pepper, a nice refreshing dish for the warmer months. Next was by far our favorite dish of the evening the Hand Pulled Burrata accompanied by seasonal vegetables, balsamic glaze, and farro.
The next course brought us a little taste of Chef Cichonski’s Little Noodle Pasta Company which offers online ordering and has been seen popping up around the city selling wholesale homemade pasta. We tried a Bolognese Sauce with pasta shells. Try a little bite for yourself Tuesday-Thursday during Happy Hour at the bar 5 – 7 pm where they offer rotating $5 bowls of Little Noodle pastas. Our main course was a Roasted Pork Shoulder with seasonal vegetables.
Ela is a serious-yet-comfortable restaurant with a menu that that changes frequently throughout the year, to reflect the latest offerings so these items we sampled may have changed slightly on the menu from when we dined.
“Creatively, it’s wonderfully freeing to prepare food that doesn’t fit into any one genre or style; this is seasonal food, using exceptional ingredients, prepared perfectly,” says Chef Cichonski.
Ela is also serving up some weekly specials including Sunday Brunch on the weekends 10:30 am – 2:30 pm with BYOC (Bring your own Champagne) with purchase of a mixer and $20 Bottomless Chicken & Waffles for the table $20 per person. Happy Hour is offered Sunday to Friday from 5 – 7 pm and Thursday nights 10 pm til midnight with $3 Select Bottled Beer and Drafts, $5 Wines, and Cocktails for $4 or $6. They’re also offering half priced bottles of wine on Mondays. Then a smaller 3 course prix fixe menu Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesdays for $30 in addition to the à la carte menu.
Little Pasta Company offers bulk orders of standard semolina pasta for pickup at the Queen Village restaurant offering rigatoni tubes and gemelli twists, with seasonal flavors like mulled wine and toasted rye. Currently there is a fast-casual Little Noodle counter in a gourmet shop called Mondo Market in Denver, but a Philly brick and mortar location is still in the works.