Tony Schiro has reigned as the king of 4th and South streets for a solid 17 years. First with The Latest Dish, a neighborhood hub serving an international yet approachable menu of Vietnamese spring rolls, steak with truffled fries and vegan burgers. And also with Fluid, a dearly departed nightclub that hosted the likes of Diplo and Questlove before they were household names.
Two and a half years later, Schiro is returning to the restaurant biz with Jaxon, a Northern Liberties BYOB named for his son. Schiro has been a resident of this hip hood for a while now. “I’ve lived here since ’96 back when it was shady and cheap,” he says. “It’s come a long way in 20 years.”
Living just a few doors down from his new restaurant space, Schiro was privy to the lifecycle of Il Cantuccio, the Italian BYOB that was most recently at 4th and Fairmount. Taking over the lease, Schiro set out to create a neighborhood spot with a chalkboard menu and a kitchen that drew inspiration from local purveyors.
He then tapped a tag team of serious talent for the endeavor: Ed Conwell, a chef that spent three years in the kitchen at Vernick Food & Drink and most recently at the beloved Cypriot spot Kanella; and Doug Dreisback whose resume includes time at Serpico, Little Fish and opening La Colombe’s Frankford Avenue flagship.
Northern Liberties has its fair share of Italian and Mediterranean-accented BYOBs but Jaxon is going to be doing something a little different with its new American menu. The kitchen is still working on finishing touches, but Schiro says that grilled octopus, whole trout, mussels and butternut squash are going to be offered upon opening, all featuring seasonal produce from local farms.
The brick walls of the restaurant have been white washed, the ceiling lined with hanging Edison bulbs and cafe tables mounted with clean wooden tops making for a minimalist dining room that highlights the open kitchen that’s the centerpiece of the room.
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After a few years out of the game, Schiro is ready to welcome his neighbors and legions of fans into his new, close-to-home spo