Photos, story by Cassie Hepler
What was once a frilly bank, you can now sit and dine in marble splendor at celebrity chef and restaurateur Richard Sandoval’s first restaurant in Philadelphia, Aqimero.
To make things even more fancy pants, the Ritz-Carlton hotel got a makeover where the restaurant is the hub in the middle by the skylight and chandeliers. And don’t worry, your broke ass can now afford to enjoy the ambiance with an ever-changing happy hour at the bar only, beginning with $1.50 Oysters, $7 cocktails, $6 wines and $5 draft beers Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Or you can try the bottomless brunch option on weekends with or without drinks.
The restaurant is part of a multi-million dollar redesign at the hotel, which also includes new guest rooms, meeting spaces and a refreshed lobby. The 206-seat restaurant is located in the marble lobby, which is modeled after the Pantheon in Rome (with the same marble stone), and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
When we popped in for a quick tasting, new to the team chef Michael Boné from Florida was preparing our surprise menu with the telltale “made from scratch” approach and focused on sustainable seafood for us but also has steaks, ribs and poultry. Guests can select hand-blended marinades to complement their grilled fish or meat of choice, which boasts a unique flavor from the restaurant’s wood-fired grill and smoker. Spanish Octopus, Ahi Tuna, U12 Shrimp, King Pacific Salmon, Wild Striped Bass, Whole Maine Lobster, Filet Mignon, Rib Eye, Skirt Steak, Porterhouse, Jidori Half Chicken and BBQ Lamb Ribs will be staples, with seasonal and specialty items available. A whole-roasted snapper will be served “Mexican beach campfire style” with a rich tomato and chili adobo, avocado, warm tortillas, chayote slaw & limes. The Seafood and Raw Bar offers a combination of raw bar favorites including Mussels, Clams, Oysters, Shrimp Cocktail and Lobster Tail, alongside an impressive assortment of unique sushi and ceviche. Salads and savory sides round out the menu, with refreshing, seasonal craft cocktails, an international wine list and wide selection of Mezcal, which is currently hovering around 60 but aiming for 70, the largest selection in the city.
Richard Sandoval has opened nearly 40 restaurants across the globe in the last 20 years, taking his brand from a single restaurant in New York to locations in Dubai, Mexico and Qatar. Touted as the “Father of Modern Mexican”, Richard Sandoval is world-renowned for combining Latin ingredients with international flavors and inventive techniques to create new and unexpected concepts.