Today is the first day for L’Anima, an Italian byob at the corner of 17th & Carpenter. Yesterday, the new restaurant offered a sneak preview of their space and their food, and we managed to snag an invite. To the extent that we’re able to provide objective feedback after gorging on free pasta, we came away impressed.

Retail space on the southeast corner
View of the open kitchen
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Peek inside the restuarant

The restaurant occupies an ‘L’ shaped space and features a funky floor, funkier light fixtures, and an open kitchen. The shape of the space is dictated by the courtyard in front of the restaurant, which will offer outdoor seating opportunities that are set far back from the sidewalk. The menu is upscale Italian, with a focus on seafood, and based on our limited experience at the sneak preview, you can expect high quality fare. Perhaps more relevant is the fact that the owners of this place also own Melograno, a byob that’s thrived in Center City for years- so the food from yesterday is probably a good indication of what’s to come.

At first blush, it may seem curious for us to give this kind of coverage to a restaurant opening- after all this seems more like Foobooz or Eater territory, right? But if you remember what this block looked like as recently as 2011, you understand that this kind of story makes all kinds of sense here on Naked Philly. After all, this isn’t just about a restaurant opening, it’s about the exclamation point on the complete transformation of a city block.

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Looking down 17th Street just half a dozen years ago
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Carpenter Square
Duplexes across the street

See what we’re talking about? The City owned both sides of the 1000 block of S. 17th St. for years, finally selling the east side in late 2011 and the west side a few years later. The east side of the street became Carpenter Square, a development that included 11 town homes and the mixed-use building pictured above. On the west side, we saw 8 duplexes wrap up last summer. And now, as we told you to expect several months back, a restaurant has appeared in the corner retail space at Carpenter Square. And it’s a true neighborhood business, several blocks away from any other restaurants or commercial corridors. As such, L’Anima will heavily rely on enthusiastic neighbors at first, and hopefully the reviews will be positive and buzz will build, which will encourage curious diners from other parts or town or maybe, <gasp>, the suburbs.