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    June 2003


Sea change. Atlantic 101 on the waterfront has changed its name and upscale seafood concept to the more comfortable Living Room lounge, now offering plump couches and specialty martinis. Larry Dunn (ex-Cheesecake Factory) serves comfort food. Proprietor John Hauck said he redesigned the Atlantic Street restaurant after holding focus groups with neighborhood residents | At Harvest, executive chef Eric Brennan is finally back after a long bout with back trouble. Fortunately, he had three sous-chefs to keep the pot boiling | Legal Sea Foods will open another restaurant, this one in the space of the former Giannino’s, behind the Charles Hotel | The Spinazzola Gala Festival of Food and Wine raised more than $600,000 to fight hunger via grants to hunger relief agencies, programs for the homeless, culinary apprenticeships, and scholarships | New York–style sandwiches are on the menu at Michael’s Deli, (formerly Tealuxe), on Harvard Street in Coolidge Corner, Brookline. Owner Michael Sobelman, who for nearly 20 years ran the Marblehead supermarket Michael’s, came out of retirement to sell kosher-style deli standards | The owners of Bombay Club in Cambridge recently opened Curry Leaf Indian Kitchen, (formerly Go Fish), in Sherwood Plaza on Route 9 in Natick | Paris Crêperie has opened a second location on Cambridge Street near Beacon Hill. Modeled after street stalls in France, the restaurant offers crêpes with a variety of fillings. A coffee bar dispenses the restaurant’s Nutella hot chocolate | After obtaining a full liquor license, Claremont Café transformed its second dining room into Lush, a cocktail lounge with a late-night menu. Co-owner Paula Spina said she hopes to have a fondue menu.


Youssef Nafaa plans to open Cava Bistro in the historic Main Street building that was previously home to Osteria D’Aldo | Chef Jonathan Jones has become executive chef at Riviera Grill. Randy Rucher, a Johnson & Wales graduate, is his chef de cuisine | Executive chef Matthew Maroni has left Sienna Plantation to work in the kitchens at Castello Banfi in Italy for three months | Giancarlo Ferrara is the new chef de cuisine at Arcodoro | Downtown, Bossa now has Trevor White (ex-Fog City Diner in San Francisco) in the kitchen | From Cafe Annie, longtime waiter Victor Ventura has landed at Bistro Le Cep, while sommelier Paul Roberts is leaving to run the wine program at The French Laundry and Bouchon in Napa | Luis Rodriguez is chef de cuisine at Guerin’s Cellar and Guerin’s Bistro. For the past two years, Rodriguez was with Wyndham Hotels in the Caribbean. Before that, he was at River Oaks Grill.


Enter the Drago. Celestino Drago (Celestino, Drago, Il Pastaio, Celestino’s Italian Steakhouse) is opening Enoteca Drago on North Cañon in Beverly Hills. The Italian tapas restaurant and deli, featuring Drago’s own baked goods, replaces La Scala, which moved up the street. The restaurant also offers breakfast | Tim and Liza Goodell (Aubergine, Red Pearl Kitchen, Whist, Troquet) have gone to the desert to open Citron inside the revamped 1930s garden hotel Estrella in Palm Springs. The French-accented modern California menu by chef de cuisine Jose Espinoza, a longtime collaborator, features seared foie gras with spiced kumquats and fried scallions, and roasted monkfish bouillabaisse | Balboa Bay Club & Resort, a 55-year-old landmark in Newport Beach, is opening First Cabin, a fine-dining room, as part of a $65 million expansion. Josef Lageder (La Costa Resort & Spa, The Ritz-Carlton) will join soon-to-retire chef Jean-Pierre Eigenheer as co-executive chef | Govind Armstrong (ex-Chadwick, Campanile) is now executive chef and partner at the new Table 8 on Beverly Boulevard | Handy Hans. Hans Röckenwagner is his own carpenter and designer in a total rebuild of Röckenwagner in Santa Monica after 18 years. The new configuration includes an 80-seat brasserie and a 20-seat formal dining room. The new culinary team features chef de cuisine Colby Garrelts and pastry chef Megan Schultz | St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa in Dana Point has opened Motif. Small plates by Azmin Ghahreman include tandoori lamb chops, beef cheek ravioli, mini steak Diane, and lobster lemon martini | Bristol Palms California Bistro & Bar is a soup-to-nuts renovation at the Costa Mesa Hilton near South Coast Plaza. Chef Jan Pfeiffer moves in from a key slot under the noted Anaheim Hilton top toque Freddy Menzinga, and the menus range from udon to veal cordon bleu | Frenchy’s Bistro in Long Beach has expanded in the past, but when the adjacent space became available, owners Andre and Valerie Angles decided on a new and more casual approach. Their Zan Zibar & Grill kept the wooden booths and paper plates of the former hash house but upgraded the food, such as tarte Tatin (by pastry chef Lisa Esslinger) instead of apple pie | Douglas Dodd (ex-Phoenician, Aspen’s Little Nell) has settled into the kitchen at Hotel Bel Air | After two and a half years at Anaheim’s Downtown Disney, the La Brea Bakery Cafe has found a second home in Redondo Beach; it will emphasize retail bread sales | In a sign of tight times, Robert Mondavi Wine and Food Center in Costa Mesa plans to lay off its culinary and programming staff of 24 at the end of the month. Local winery sales staff will remain, and the banquet facilities will be leased for special events.


Ode to Joy. Behind every good executive chef is a sous-chef...and a pastry chef. “Bingo” Starr, formerly of Restaurant Cuvée, has hired Joy Jessup as pastry chef of the new establishment he is planning. Jessup used to teach at the CIA’s Greystone campus. She will make cakes and pastries for René Bajeux’s René Bistrot, as well as for the new restaurant | Vy Banh has taken over the late, lamented Café Indo in Mid-City for the third branch of her popular Pho Tau Bay restaurant | Corbin Evans (ex-Susan Spicer’s Bayona) first opened Lulu’s as a breakfast and lunch place, serving dinner on weekends only. Now he is opening Lulu’s on the Avenue in the Garden District Hotel on St. Charles Avenue.


The 49th Annual Fancy Food and Confection Show comes to New York, June 29-July 1 at the Jacob Javitz Center. Presneted by the National Association for Specialty Food Trade. For information go to or call 212/482-6440, ext 250 | Adieu. Lespinasse at the St. Regis Hotel has closed. The top-rated French dining room put Gray Kunz on the culinary map and gave his successor, Christian Delouvrier, a sumptuous showcase. No plans have been announced for the space | West Village epicures hardly had a moment to mourn the closing of Balducci’s (FYI, James Beard used to shop there) before Citarella took over lox, stocks, and barrel. The once cramped, dark space has been transformed, and the fish display alone is worth the trip. Expansion is part of a master plan that will see another Citarella opening in Harlem later this year | Act of genius or folly? You decide. Rice to Riches is a new, space-age take-out shop in Soho. The brainchild of owner Pete Moceo and pastry chef Jemal Edwards (recently of The Four Seasons, San Francisco), the restaurant serves nothing but rice pudding. It comes in 19 curiously named flavors like Strawberry Floozy, Stubborn Banana with Coconut, Pineapple Payoff with Basil, and the “classic” Understanding Vanilla. What would grandma think? | Good things do come in small packages. Ara, a tiny jewel box of a wine bar, has opened in the Meatpacking District. The name is an acronym of the owners: Ananda, Rehana, and Ari Ellis. Their exotic heritage (East Indian, Russian, Romanian) provides inspiration for the colorful bohemian decor. Joshua Wesson, wine expert and co-founder/owner of Best Cellars, oversees a small yet versatile wine list. Wine-friendly tapas and a signature line of chocolates and pots de fruit from pastry chef Jehangir Mehta (Aix) round out the menu | An American Place has resurfaced in an unlikely setting. The seminal 20-year-old restaurant has gone through several incarnations; the latest is on the fifth floor of the Lord & Taylor department store. The menu boasts some of Larry Forgione’s signature dishes, including lobster corn chowder and banana betty. Forgione’s two sons, Marc and Bryan, are cooking with their famous dad | The Upper East Side must have a giant collective sweet tooth, what with Fauchon, Payard Pâtisserie, and Maison du Chocolat doling out napoleons and macaroons. Now, Mondrian Pastry joins the ranks. Master pâtissier Michel Willaume opened a branch last year in tony Great Neck, Long Island. Recently he opened a sleek offshoot on Third Avenue near 61st Street. The elaborate pastries are named for artists, such as the Rodin, which combines applesauce, apple confit, almond sponge, macerated raisins, and hazelnut praline cream. It’s art you can eat | The success of Morrell Wine Bar & Café in Rockefeller Center has prompted owners Nikos Antonakeas and Peter and Roberta Morrell to launch their ambitious new undertaking—the big, bold, and beautiful Morrells Restaurant. Located in a landmark Stanford White building on Broadway in the Flatiron district, the restaurant includes a 46-seat wine bar, a 100-seat restaurant, and M Boutique, which sells wine-related gifts. Diners can enjoy a staggering 150 wines-by-the-glass program with wine-rich dishes by chef Michael Haimowitz, like Champagne fricassée of lobster, or herb crêpes with roasted rabbit, chanterelles, coriander, and Pinot Noir syrup. Pastry chef Victoria Burghi follows suit with a flight of dessert-wine ice creams. Morrells is likely to give its serious wine neighbor, Veritas, a run for its money | Restaurateurs often commission exclusive wines for their establishments, but Home restaurant owners Barbara Shinn and David Page have taken that concept to a whole new level. Five years ago, they bought land on the North Fork of Long Island and started a winery, Shinn Vineyard. In the ensuing years, they’ve split their time between running their restaurant, which celebrated its tenth anniversary this spring, and establishing their vineyard. Now, they’ve picked their first harvest. Sneak peek tastes are available at Home, in the West Village | John Villa, chef/owner of Pico in Tribeca, has come on board to freshen up Patroon | Movin’ on up. Charlie Palmer transformed Alva into Kitchen 22, serving robust contemporary American food like roast chicken with porcini risotto at a very gentle fixed price. Now he’s taking the $25 prix fixe formula uptown with the opening of Kitchen 82. The wines are equally affordable | Lower East Side wunderkind Wylie Dufresne spent well over a year experimenting in his kitchen, which he dubbed the “funk tank.” Now, the legions of diners who once flocked to his 71 Clinton Fresh Foods (he’s no longer involved) can resume their routine. His new restaurant, WD-50, is just up the street from his old address. Pastry chef Sam Mason, formerly of Atlas and Palladin, puts his spin on the cerebral, imaginative, seasonal American menu | Another newcomer to trendy Clinton Street is Chubo, with an international menu of Latin, Asian, and French flavors. Claude Chassagne (ex-Black Sheep and Montparnasse) draws in crowds with a $24 prix fixe menu and a BYOB attitude | Say (Artisanal) Cheese (Center). As of press time, Terrance Brennan, chef/proprietor of acclaimed New York restaurants Picholine, Artisanal, and Terrance Brennan’s Seafood and Chop House, was set to unveil his most ambitious project to date. The Artisanal Cheese Center, a 10,000-square-foot facility in the Garment District, will feature state-of-the-art aging cheese “caves,” a demonstration kitchen and classroom, and a wholesale and retail cheese business | Take me to the Riviera. Andy D’Amico, a veteran of Sign of the Dove and Arizona 206, is now at the cheerful Nice Matin, named for the Provençal daily newspaper and featuring the coastal flavors of Provence. His partner, Simon Oren, also owns Marseille | Add another brasserie to the pot. Larry Kolar (ex-Commune, Commissary, and Bolivar) looks to Brittany for inspiration at the recently re-tuned Maison in Midtown, previously Brasserie Central. The menu celebrates sweet and savory crêpes (a specialty of the region) as well as towering plateaux of fruits de mer | It took a little more than magic for Tom Colicchio to open ’wichcraft in May in the space next to Craftbar and Craft. Chef Sisha Ortuzar, previously at Gramercy Tavern and Craft, will put a spell on you with breakfast and lunch sandwiches such as the white anchovy, egg, frisée, and salsa verde panino. Craft and Craftbar pastry chef Karen DeMasco contributes the pastries. Colicchio’s line of imported olive oils, condiments, and specialty items is also available. | Paul Liebrandt, the British maverick who teased our palates at Atlas and later at Papillon, is now in the kitchen at Chez Es Saada, Steve Tzolis’s Moroccan restaurant. Liebrandt serves up delicious, albeit tamer, dishes like roasted beets with horseradish cream, and filet mignon with harissa | In Chelsea, Tzolis has partnered with chef Gerry Hayden, most recently of Aureole, to reinvent the former Tonic as Amuse. The menu is divided into $5, $10, $15, and $20 categories meant to encourage mixing and matching among items like ham and cheese gougères, roasted cod and potato cakes, and an apple beignet with maple walnut ice cream, the last from pastry chef Gilat Bennett..


Chef Yannick Alleno will be leaving Les Muses in the Hôtel Scribe this summer to take over the kitchens at the Hôtel Meurice in September. Alleno previously worked at Le Meurice from 1992 to 1994 | Café Signes, the city’s first restaurant devoted to employing and catering to the hearing impaired, has opened in the 14th arrondissement | Jean-Pierre Vigato (Apicius) is considering teaming up with film director Luc Besson to open a restaurant in the 8th. Besson is already involved in Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Market | Le Café de la Paix has opened in the Intercontinental Le Grand Hôtel Paris, after 18 months and £150 million of renovations | Award-winning chef Fung Chin Chen, known for his innovative use of French products in Chinese cuisine at his restaurant Au Soleil d’Est, died of cancer on April 21.


His name is his game. Executive chef Frederick Panfil (ex-Steelhead Grill, The Duquesne Club) takes over the kitchen at Vendetta Dolci, on the South Side. He replaces veteran chef Johann Meinke, who’s moved on to Il Pizzaiolo in Mt. Lebanon | New owner Marvin Kantoric has reopened the long-closed Brass Duck, a landmark restaurant in Stahlstown. Executive chef Chuck Zavolta does a Continental menu with seafood and duck, naturally | Pasta Piatto, for 22 years a mainstay Northern Italian restaurant in Shadyside, has closed | Tony Masci has shuttered Cedar House in Oakdale | Alain and Susan Pizzutti (Le Perroquet, Manhattan’s Le Clown) have transformed Bellini into Eno, a casual panini and wine bar | Mark Swormley has been promoted from sous-chef to executive chef at The Carlton, Downtown | Hanson Cho, previously at Soba and The Duquesne Club, is now sous-chef at Blue | Eric Wallace (ex-Kaya) replaced Heath Miles as executive chef of Casbah. Kevin Sousa stepped up to Kaya’s executive chef position | Kristie De Mailo has opened Café Kolache and is serving Czech and Slovak pastries | David Kadagishvili (“Chef Dato”), an immigrant from the former Soviet republic of Georgia and a CIA grad, joins executive chef Mark Henry at Mountain View Inn in Greensburg | North Shore Entertainment Group has opened a trio of restaurants next to baseball’s PNC Park: Irish pub Finnegan’s Wake, Tango’s Martini Bar, and Bella’s North Shore Grill.


Augie Saucedo is the new chef de cuisine at the Shores Restaurant in the Sea Lodge Hotel in La Jolla. He replaces Kevin Takei. Saucedo comes from Shelter Point Hotel & Marina | San Diego has finally come to grips with its late-night downtown crowd. The Gaslamp’s Marketplace Grille is now open until 3:00 a.m. on weekends | Galileo 101 has opened in the west tower of downtown’s Harbor Club, with chef James Hafner | Jonna Talbott has left as director of the Macy’s School of Cooking and moved to Great News, a shop and cooking school in Pacific Beach. Mike Wallace (no, not that one) will replace her at Macy’s.


Banging Humm’s drum. Daniele Humm, a 27-year-old chef at the Michelin-starred Zum Gupf in Rehetobel, Switzerland, is the new chef at the Campton Place Hotel restaurant | Sam Duvall has opened Habana on Van Ness Avenue. The menu, from chef Joe Kohn, includes a ceviche bar | Lapis restaurant at Pier 33 has closed. Chef Thomas Ricci, who had been one of the city’s rising stars, has already left town for a job in Atlanta. The hip Butterfly fusion restaurant is scheduled to move to the space this month | Several months ago, Bruno Feldeisen (Solea) took a fly at the old Oritalia space in the Hotel Juliana on Bush Street, renaming it Malisa Restaurant & Lounge. Although he says it was great working with the managing Kimpton Group, he has closed the restaurant | Investor Harvey Rifkin plans to open 2B restaurant in a building he leases on Second Street, two blocks from Pacific Bell Park. His chef is Anthony Pizzarello | Cheeseville. The American Cheese Society ( is inviting all cheese lovers to sample more than 450 handmade cheeses at its upcoming annual conference. The $65 tasting will be held August 2 in the Ferry Building.


Olives and fishes. Todd English (Olives, Figs) has opened his first West Coast restaurant, The Fish Club, in the new Seattle Marriott Waterfront Hotel. Executive chef Chris Ainsworth (ex-The Dahlia Lounge) prepares classic fish dishes | Six Seven in the Edgewater Hotel has moved out, and the high-styled Baleen has moved in | Paul Mackay (El Gaucho, Waterfront Seafood Grill) has closed Chez Gus on Pier 70 and reopened it as Rippe’s Steaks, Chops and Seafood | Jake Reagan has replaced Tom Hollywood as executive chef of Ponti Seafood Grill.


Restaurateur Uichi Morishita and designer Ichiro Katami have teamed up to open two restaurant/cafes in quick succession. In the former Harajuku landmark Cafe de Rope is Montoak, a sleek bar and lounge overlooking Omotesando (the Champs-Elysées of Tokyo), with a menu that borrows from Japan and Italy. Tarlum, near Yoyogi Koen Station, is a three-floor “aqua brasserie” that doubles as the entrance to the apartments above. Dinner focuses on seafood and oysters | Alain Ducasse’s Japanese outpost of Spoon Food and Wine has closed | Italian restaurateur Panzetta Girolamo and Y’s Table have opened Soba Giro, in the new Prudential Financial center in Akasaka. The star of the menu? Hot or cold soba with bocconcini | A branch of Gonpachi izakaya (pub) has opened atop a new high-rise on Dogenzaka in Shibuya. The Nishi-Azabu branch was the Japanese prime minister’s choice for entertaining U.S. president George W. Bush. Parent company Global Dining plans a large complex in Ginza Loop containing all four of their restaurants: Gonpachi, Cafe La Boheme (Italian), Zest Cantina (Tex-Mex), and Monsoon (pan-Asian) | Jinro Garden in Shinjuku has reopened after a face-lift.


Exhibit closed. Construction has forced Jamie Kennedy to close his fine-dining lunch spot, JK ROM, at the Royal Ontario Museum downtown. His celebrated frites were edged out by a new wing designed by Daniel Libeskind. Kennedy will continue catering from his suburban commissary, with plans to open his own event space someday | The intersection of King and Bathurst Streets continues to grow as a restaurant district. Newcomers Eau, Blowfish, and Brassaii join culinary pioneer Susur on the trendy strip | The Rubino brothers (Zoom, Rain) plan to open Luce restaurant and Yellow lounge in the new Le Germain boutique hotel on Mercer Street.


Irish power. No, not a voting block, but a fine-dining restaurant. Christy Hughes (Ireland’s Four Provinces) has bought the Inn at Glen Echo in Maryland, where he plans to open The Irish Inn at Glen Echo in July | Peter Grunfelder (Wurzburg-Haus) has taken over Blue Ox in Olney. He will keep it running as a Southwestern restaurant | Frank Morales has moved east—from The Oval Room near the White House to Zola in Penn Quarter.


Las Vegas
Wolfgang von Wieser has left the Four Seasons Hotel to become executive chef of Bellagio. Jacques Van Staden has landed at Alizé at the Top of the Palms, where he is working under André Rochat.