Upstairs at Di Bruno Bros. is a Hidden Gem

Written by Antoinette Marie Johnson on October 14, 2019

Hidden atop the Rittenhouse Italian specialty market at 18th & Chestnut Street is a cafe that we designed. Anyone who has visited Philadelphia knows that Di Bruno Bros. is an iconic food experience. It’s the more authentic, familial version of Dean & Deluca. What started 80 years ago as a specialty cheese shop in the Italian Market, has evolved into an entire brand offering that ranges from retail to consumer product goods.

What’s remained the same about Di Bruno Bros.over 4 generations is truly remarkable. How they’ve conquered the impossible of scaling familial charm is a secret we hope they share. They are known for their impeccable, warm service always leaving customers with a belly rolling laugh and inevitable story about the cheese maker they know personally.

Bill and Emilio, cousins who inherited the business at a very young age, are uniquely equipped with gratitude and grace. Leaving every encounter – from customer to vendor like myself – truly inspired.

The task was really intimidating at first – Bill Mignucci, the President of Di Bruno Bros., was looking for an ideal partner to help them scale branding efforts, graphic design, interior design and signage needs. Like the true protector of an iconic 80 year old brand, he chooses partners with a lot of care. He did his homework too…reading everything he could about Cohere before we met. An honor and a privilege.

I, Antoinette, personally have worked 18 tireless years to get the honor of working for him that I was shocked and immediately realized the horror of the task. The impossible – design and build a restaurant concept in 6 weeks!

The results are incredible. We are so happy to report that the client is very pleased. A responsibility we hold with high regard. The Cohere team is so proud and excited to share this project with everyone.

 A casual Italian eatery, offering up moments of storytelling and a replication of that special experience you have at their first location on 9th street.

“Our intent behind the newly designed space was to create a natural extension from the downstairs marketplace to the new upstairs cafe. As you walk up the staircase to Alimentari from the downstairs  you are physically elevated from a shopping and learning experience to that of a sit down experience. We crafted a few different ways in which you can enjoy the main dining room by sitting at a table, at the mozzarella bar, bar, lounge w/ friends in a living room setting, or bistro tables to pretend you are sitting on an Italian street. We wanted to present the same products, ingredients, and familia feel you see downstairs in a newer and elevated manner. You’ll still see the products intermixed in shelving, the cheese art of Mike Geno, and a gallery wall featuring purveyors, key ingredients, dishes and family.” – Dylan Garner, Creative Director at Cohere

Alimentari’s menu is crafted from our curated collection of food finds from around the world, most of which you can find just one floor down at their legendary Center City store.

“It was about giving Bill and Emilio the courage to be more relevant in design. We needed to change this perception and breathe new life into the beautiful bones the space had to offer. We found opportunities to create various dining experiences—added a lounge, bistro tables, and banquets. Stylistically we aimed to capture old-world sensibilities juxtaposed in a warm and contemporary manner.” -Adam Verboys, Interior Decorator

You can taste cheeses straight from the farm, encounter new ways to use their in-house staples, sip on your favorite beverage, or have a slice of pizza just like the Romans do. Celebrate the things that make life worth living, good food and good people. Because ‘la vita è bella’. Alimentari is now open for visitors to enjoy!