CO–OP Restaurant & Bar is nestled on South 33rd Street in University City, catering to residents and visitors alike, offering them a refined, yet unpretentious dining experience. The restaurant is just as chic as its café space and hotel aptly named “The Study.” Recently, CO–OP held a preview event celebrating the debut of their new restaurant concept, featuring an all–new head chef and restaurant staff and a focus on locally–sourced ingredients, Mid–Atlantic cuisine, and regional cooking practices complimented with a modern twist. This new direction is indicative of CO–OP’s intention to bring more upscale options to the University City area, particularly to those visiting or attending local universities such as Penn.
CO–OP is part of Study Hotels, a hospitality brand that has opened locations near a number of elite college campuses, including Yale University, the University of Chicago, and an upcoming location in Baltimore at John Hopkins University. Since its University City location opened in 2017 it has been named one of the best hotels in Philadelphia by publications Curbed and Condé Nast Traveler, as well as highlighted as a standout among hotels in college towns by the New York Times and USA Today.
With a new menu inspired by the flavors and cultures of the Mid–Atlantic, it’s clear that the CO–OP Restaurant & Bar wants to invite guests to taste the unique ingredients available in the region during their stay at The Study. CO–OP’s menu renovation is “inspired by the hardworking fishing and farming communities which immigrated to the East Coast—communities which valued quality, hospitality, and sharing,” according to a press release. Philadelphia has historically been a popular city for immigrants, which in turn has shaped the city’s culinary diversity. Utilizing the multitude of ingredients and cooking techniques native to the region, CO–OP’s new menu is meant to reflect the many flavors of Mid–Atlantic’s culinary scene.
CO–OP’s new Executive Chef Kyle Berman comes from a background of high–end eateries including the Michelin–starred Alinea in Chicago. Under Berman’s direction, CO–OP said they’re “look[ing] forward to welcoming our neighbors—students and faculty of the surrounding universities, residents of University City, West Philadelphia, and beyond—to experience the history of Philadelphia and the Mid–Atlantic region through our new food and beverage menus.”
On the inside, CO–OP has an upscale atmosphere, perfect for a special occasion meal with friends and family. There is an abundance of seating options, from the bar to smaller tables, but also ample space to stand, making it a great setting for an event like a cocktail hour. I visited at night, but I could imagine that the restaurant would be absolutely gorgeous during the day, with the large windows letting in plenty of light.
Over the course of my night, I began to realize that CO–OP excels in the presentation of food. Our first course is a pumpkin soup, served inside a hollowed–out pumpkin. The innovative presentation was actually unplanned; I am informed later in the night that, upon realizing they didn’t have enough small bowls for the dinner, the chef decided to hollow out some pumpkins they had bought for restaurant decor. The soup itself is one of the highlights of the night, its texture was delightfully creamy with the cultured cream adding a tangy flavor to the otherwise sweet pumpkin.
Another memorable dish is the linguini and clams. It was the perfect mixture of savory, coming from the clams and bottarga, and zestiness from the light sauce. I also delight in the beef short rib dish, which is so tender that I don’t even need a knife to cut through it. The dish comes with zucchini and grits that balance out the slight sweetness of the short rib. With each course, I am impressed by the choice of fresh ingredients and the blend of seasonal flavors, each offering a unique twist on classic cuisine.
I happily recommend CO–OP to anyone looking for a classy restaurant to host a birthday dinner or to take their parents to if they stop by campus. While I am lucky enough to have tried so many wonderful dishes I’d absolutely return to try more of the menu.
TLDR; Sit down at CO–OP for a delicious meal—and an abundance of drink options—and lavish in the refined atmosphere and creative menu options.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated the name of the restaurant as "CO–OP Restaurant & Lounge." The piece has since been updated. Street regrets this error.