PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Top chef Nicholas Elmi is celebrating the grand re-opening of his popular South Philadelphia restaurant Laurel.
He says Laurel 2.0 is a re-imagining of the fine dining spot that's been a staple for a decade, and this next chapter is about fun.
Laurel has a new look, and it's bigger, expanding into Elmi's former In the Valley (ITV Philly) space next door.
It's also transitioning from its famous fine dining tasting menu to an elevated a la carte experience.
"Even though we've been open, this is our 10th year, I have opening night jitters right now," Elmi laughed as he reopened the restaurant Wednesday night.
"I haven't felt that in a really long time. It's nice," he added.
Elmi says he wanted to loosen it up a bit.
"There's a rigidity to a tasting menu that I'm kind of over," he says. "This new concept is to have an atmosphere that's fun, and lively and jovial, but also the food is still going to be top-notch."
During the pandemic, the James Beard-nominated chef opened the Landing Kitchen and The Lark in Bala Cynwyd.
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He also launched a lot of other little projects to stay active and afloat.
"Selling $3 doughnuts, I was getting the same reaction out of people as I was cooking a 10-course tasting menu," Elmi says. "I thought, 'This is awesome. This is a lot of fun.' So I said, 'What else can we do? Let's get back to our roots.'"
Laurel's new menu will have about 20 seasonal dishes a night, from snacks to shareable small plates to pasta, like the Parisian gnocchi.
Laurel was closed for two weeks for renovations and now it's officially reopened.