1247 S. 13th Street
Cash Only BYOB
(Tues-Sat 5:30-10pm)
(215) 468-5926

Unless you’re closest friends of a gastroenterologist, there are few reasons to know the name of those horrifying gurglings your belly makes just before eating. "Borborygmus" is the affliction of rampant, ribald rumbling. The cause of the noise is moving gas hoping to fill the vacuum of an empty stomach.

Eating immediately and heartily is the only known cure; and heading for August is like traveling to a culinary Lourdes.

As you approach from Wharton Street, the night air becomes redolent of seared pans sautéeing garlic, chopped salads drenched in balsamic vinaigrettes and grilled spicy Italian sausages.

Enter upon a muted scene of a dozen candle-lit tables, an open stainless steel kitchen and a heavenly ceiling of painted brown tin.

Blue tablecloths seem to inhale whatever light exists. Wall-to-wall carpeting and fabric-covered walls are abundantly absorbent of sound. Nothing, in this setting, could be more contumacious than the screaming borborygmus that invades your mid-section as the odors of virgin olive oil, roasting herbs and red sauces culminate in nearly visible halos just above your head.

A prophetic glance at a menu, adorned with the angelic pictures of the staff and chef, create an apotheosis marinated with thoughts of broccoli rabe. Two red candles flicker divinely above a window in the restaurant’s right corner. Blessedly, the average entrée is in the teens, an epiphany which creates movement upon one’s lips, to exclaim: "This is the best shebang for my buck."

The cacophony below your belt disappears miraculously as a basket of chewy Italian loaves arrive, and cold white wine is opened and poured. Your prayers have been answered. If only the tastes emulate the aromas.

Baby Spinach Salad ($8) is primed by toasted pine nuts, cubed apples and hickory smoked bacon. A cumulous cloud of mild provolone cheese oversees, adding warmth and yellow shaded beams to the sherry dressing. Every forkful drenches an outstretched tongue, tantalizing its curved tip until its flattened surface absorbs all flavors. Gulp and groan. Nothing wetter could be better.

Never miss the August Roll ($6.50). Spring rolls appear in August, filled to plumpness with slick angel hair pasta, sautéed summer vegetables with a honey mustard sauce. The pasta tickles and caresses your swallow with luxurious lubrication. The veggies add a minimal crunch, as your teeth attempt to forestall the dissolving disappearance of a verdant mustardy mouthful. An aftertaste of honey hastens the fingers holding your fork to pierce the skin of another pasta-packet.

Entrées are no less comforting. Simply ask Maria Vanni, the proprietress what’s special that evening. The restaurant is so kindly and small that she can devote as much time as you need for explanations and down-home discussions. Maria had been the hostess for Le Bec Fin for years before winding up at ill-fated Avenue B. When "B" was "Not to B," she decided, along with chef MaryAnn Brancaccio (Loew's, Franglelica's) to open up August (the month they befriended). By October 2003, the duo were up and running.

"The Tilapia is better than when St. Peter first discovered it in the Holy Land," Maria confides. I'm hooked by her mantic mentoring.

The huge filets ($19) rest regally upon an underlayment of scallion risotto. The riso are pearly and engorged, glistening gems improved by specks of scallion mini-shafts. The tilapia sweats juicily above, made fragrant by lime pepper sauce and cilantro.

Chunkfulls in mounds frolic between your jaws painting flavorful icons upon the roof of your mouth.

Another favorite is the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake ($20). This serving has become a neighborhood staple. Crumbled lump crab flakes are gently molded into the shape of a water tower, held sturdy by thick creamed corn and basil bits immersed in sautéed spinach leaves. Have a friend take a picture of your face when introducing the mélange to your lips. Then send the negative to Bachrach for digital touch-up and framing. Mona Lisa’s smile will, in comparison, be diminished to a smirk.

Likewise, if you meander upon "boursin alfredo sauce" or "roasted garlic mashed potatoes," or "sun dried tomatoes and chickpeas," pounce pontifically.

Finally, the chocolate-banana creamed pie is so sinful, it will bring your senses to satanic satiety.

I’ve not had a recurrence of borborygmus since August. This neighborly nook is a pomander of cozy Italian aromatic substances, and a gift basket for your palate.

All of the above is divulged pursuant to the terms of the new Uniform Trade Secrets Act. This eatery is so small that it should be, for a time, user-friendly for lawyers and judges. Give the citation to no one, unless his or her belly is booming.


Copyright 2004 Richard Max Bockol, Esq. Back