Nearly a year after entering into talks with PREIT, world-renowned Philadelphia chef Marc Vetri has signed a lease agreement to open a restaurant at the Moorestown Mall.
PREIT spokeswoman Judy Trias said Vetri signed the lease late last week, only a few days after PREIT, which owns the Moorestown Mall, was formally awarded four liquor licenses.
She said the restaurant will be a version of Vetri's Osteria, located on Broad Street in Philadelphia. The original Osteria opened in 2007 and has been consistently recognized as one of the best restaurants in the city.
Vetri himself leaked the news Friday, tweeting, "Let's see if you can figure out what this means!!!! BOOM!!!," with a picture of the lease agreement attached.
"You can see Marc Vetri was excited," said Trias, who explained landing a restaurateur like the James Beard Award winner is part of PREIT's strategy for rebranding the mall.
"With Moorestown, the idea was to create a dining destination," she said. "This is certainly a major step toward that."
Vetri, a previous Iron Chef winner, already owns and operates three acclaimed high-end, Italian-style restaurants in Philadelphia. His flagship, Vetri, was named one of the 50 best restaurants in the country by Gourmet Magazine in 2006 and received the Philadelphia Inquirer's highest restaurant rating, along with a host of other accolades.
Mayor John Button was also thrilled by the news, and said it sends a "signal" that PREIT is committed to reinvigorating the mall.
"Marc Vetri is a renowned chef who has terrific restaurants in Philadelphia. That's exciting to have someone of his caliber come to Moorestown," said Button. "I don't think somebody like Marc Vetri is going to go somewhere he doesn't believe is going to be a thriving location."
Trias declined to provide new information on the other three restaurants PREIT is negotiating with, but did say the company had other establishments "lined up."
She said there's still a bit of red tape that has to be cleared before all four licenses are finally, formally in PREIT's hand—specifically a 30-day appeal period from the date council awarded the licenses.
Once that process is complete, PREIT will be able to provide more information on the Vetri restaurant, as well as the other restaurants, she said. The company would like to have leases signed with all four restaurants before the end of the year.
For more information about Osteria and to check out the menu, visit the restaurant's website.