PHILADELPHIA, PA (April 17, 2023) – Bolo, Chef Yun Josué Fuentes Morales’ Latin American dining room and rum bar nestled in bustling Rittenhouse Square, has officially opened to the public as of Friday, April 14. Located at 2025 Sansom Street, Philadelphia’s newest restaurant serves authentic and contemporary Latin American cuisine as well as a rum-focused bar program.
Bolo is the brainchild of Fuentes, former Executive Chef at Stephen Starr’s beloved Alma de Cuba, where he worked side-by-side with mentor and culinary legend Chef Douglas Rodriguez. Bolo provides a home to Latin American flavors in a market overflowing with Northern American and European cuisines. Upon opening, Bolo will boast a dinner menu that highlights ceviches, piscolabis (snacks), pinchos (skewered meats and vegetables), cuchifritos (fried foods), verduras (vegetables), platillos (main dishes), postres (desserts) and a Latin focused coffee program.
Fuentes’ debut menu features riffs on classic dishes from his childhood in Puerto Rico, all the while utilizing modern and innovative techniques learned during his time in various kitchens across Old San Juan, New York City, North Carolina and Philadelphia. Highlights from the all-new dinner menu at Bolo include the following:
● Tuna con COCO: Bigeye Tuna, young coconut salsa, cilantro
● Red Snapper Nikkei: Lemongrass, soy sauce, serrano chilis, topped with fried garlic and sesame oil
● Smoked Whitefish Salad: Coconut yaniqueque, pickled chilis, topped with shredded lettuce
● Tostones Rellenos: Fried plantain cups, lemon aioli, mussels al escabeche
● Chicken Chicharron: Pork lard fried chicken pieces, garlic mayo, lime
● Lamb Picadillo Empanadas: Lamb shoulder stew, sauce gribiche, cumin
● Maduros: Sweet plantains, crema, queso fresco
● Ginger Pitipuas: English peas, ginger coconut beurre monté
● Vaca Frita: Creekstone Farms skirt steak, black beans, sweet plantains, tomato escabeche
● Whole Red Snapper: Broiled Caribbean snapper, cachuchas pepper aioli, spring time sancocho, chives
● Lobster Mofongo: Butter poached whole lobster, lardo & green plantain timbale, mojo isleño
In addition to its cuisine, Bolo offers imbibers a robust rum-focused bar, complete with spirits sourced from around the globe. A variety of cocktails that span from the rum-based classics like piña colada and mojitos to its signature concoctions like French Twist (rhum agricole, pineau de charentes, chamomile syrup) and the Coco Bolo (Old Grandad Bonded Bourbon, Coco Rico, lime twist), are soon to become one of Philly’s favorites. The bar program will feature a long list of rums to be enjoyed neat, with a rock or ti’ punch, a nod to the drinking style of the French Antilles.
In addition to the spirit-forward beverage menu Bolo has collaborated with Philadelphia-based custom craft brewery My Local Brew Works to create Bolo Light and Bolo Dark, for their draft beer program. With an ABV of 4.6%, Bolo Light, a pre-prohibition cream ale brewed with pale malt, Vienna malt, and brown rice flakes, fermented with a California lager yeast embodies the feel of sunshine while drinking this “tribute to the islands”. In contrast Bolo Dark (5.2% ABV)with a flavor profile that resembles the Malta soft drinks of Puerto Rico, is a retro American brown ale that melds juicy tropical fruits (pineapple, mango), stone fruits, candy, and orange tangerine.
Inspiration of signature cocktail names stem from Fuentes’ Abuela who worked as a beautician, and reference popular hairstyles dating back to the ‘50s and ‘60s. An assortment of classic and signature cocktails on debut beverage menu (subject to rotate seasonally) are as follows:
● Mojito: Don Q Cristal Rum, lime, sugar, fresh mint, club
● Sofrito Daiquiri: Ron del Barrilito 2 Star Rum, sofrito shrubs, bay leaf
● Hemingway: White rum, lime, Maraschino, grapefruit, sugar, Angostura
● Hurricane: Cruzan Black Strap Rum, Don Q Crystal Rum, passionfruit, lime
● Carajillo: Luxardo Amaretto, VSOP Cognac, Brazilian espresso, evaporated milk
● Flipped Bob: Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Amaro Montenegro, sesame seed horchata, orange
● Pixie: Tito’s Vodka, dry curaçao, hibiscus, lemon
● Beehive: Gray Whale Gin, mango, candied ginger, egg white
The restaurant’s name, menu, and overall inspiration stems from Fuentes’ grandfather Juan “Don Johnny” Fuentes whose nickname amongst family is “Bolo”, a shortened version of Abuelo. A native of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, Don Johnny spent his career as a cook in both Puerto Rico and New York City.
Similarly, Fuentes himself gained expertise and experience in both cities working under Dan Rundell at Fusion Restaurant and Chef Roberto Treviño at the Parrot Club. In NYC, Fuentes spent years working in the kitchens of Patria, Pipa, and a year as a line cook for Jean-Georges Vongerichten at V steakhouse. Upon landing in Philadelphia, Fuentes has worked with Chef Jose Garces at restaurants Amada, Tinto, and Village Whiskey, as well as recent experience as Culinary Director at MilkBoy. MilkBoy business partners Jamie Lokoff and Tommy Joyner backed the project giving Chef Fuentes free reign to craft his vision.
The entirely revamped venue, located at 2025 Sansom Street, accommodates roughly 60 guests in the sweeping second-floor dining room, while the first-floor holds 10 people at the bar, and 24 in the adjacent, stylish cocktail lounge.
The ultra-vibrant, bi-level restaurant and bar will operate for happy hour service Monday through Friday from 4 – 6pm, and dinner service Monday through Wednesday from 4 – 10pm, and Thursday through Saturday from 4pm – 12am (closed on Sunday for now). Reservations can be made via Resy.
Photos: KC Tinari and Lexy Pierce.
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