Former Starr chef to take over old Franco’s spot in East Falls

A wooden plank with the address 4116 written in spray paint is the only marker for the soon-to-be opened Italian restaurant In Riva, which opens on Dec. 10 along Ridge Avenue in East Falls, at the site of the former Franco’s Trattoria. Within, the earthy scent of firewood roasting in a brick oven fills the room. Wooden planks and tool kits are scattered across the floor as power drills screech over heavy metal music. But most importantly, the kitchen has been fully completed, says owner Arthur Cavaliere. And that kitchen will crank out dishes of the Italian variety from Naples and Calabria, such as meatballs, pork belly, octopus, simmered calamari, bologna and cheese plates, bruschetta and brick oven pizza and Italian craft beer, all within the $8 to $19 price range. Cavaliere, 31, of Roxborough, previously cooked at Steven Starr’s Parc for seven years and Michel Richard’s Citronelle in Washington, DC. But In Riva marks Cavaliere’s first restaurant to own, and he blends the similarities of Southern Italy with those of his backyard in Roxborough. Cavaliere says “In Riva” roughly translates to “on the banks” in Italian, and the back patio to his new restaurant overlooks the Schuylkill River. He also plans to decorate the patio with Italian-style cruiser bikes. “There’s a huge bike culture in Southern Italy because the weather is nice year round,” Cavaliere says. “I put that together with the fact that people ride bikes on Kelly Drive all day.” Cavaliere has renovated a lot to complete his vision for a Southern Italian comfort food joint, like knocking down all the walls to allow for an open, high-ceiling dining area that surrounds a circular bar adorned by hanging Edison light bulbs with glowing white spiral filaments. In Riva’s environment will be casual, Cavaliere says. And while the menus are yet to be printed as of Wednesday night, Cavaliere says he already has the playlist picked out. “Half of it’s going to be old punk with A Tribe Called Quest,” he says. “And the older crowd gets Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Rolling Stones.”

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