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    February 2004


Hardly pedestrian. Sean Simmons, chef/owner of Parish Cafe, is working with childhood buddy Gordon Wilcox as executive chef of George: An American Tavern, just a hop, skip, and a swerve across busy Boylston Street | Josh Ziskin (ex-Tuscan Grill in Waltham) has opened La Morra in Brookline in the former Fajitas and ’Ritas. The 72-seat La Morra serves northern Italian cuisine, homemade pasta and breads, and a four-course dinner for $35 | The new Spring Street Café brings family-friendly Italian to 320 Spring Street in West Roxbury. Elizabeth McNichols manages the restaurant as well as Cibo in the North End. Her brother, Michael Sousa, owns the Spring Street Café, along with Margaret Beatty | Marc J. Pocaro is the new executive chef at the Top of the Hub in the Prudential Tower, replacing longtime chef Dean Moore. Most recently, Pocaro was executive sous-chef at the Manele Bay Hotel in Hawaii | Toast has opened in Union Square, replacing the former Macondo | Adam Halsberg is the new sous-chef at Caffe Umbra | Robert Fathman (Azure) has a new restaurant, Anthem, near North Station. He is serving what he describes as “free-spirited American cooking,” for instance an American pupu platter. Fathman is cooking at the Beard House this month (see page 21) | Seth Woods and Matt Burns (Aquitaine) and partner Jeff Gates (Davio’s) have opened Union Bar and Grille in the South End, so named because it is across the street from Union Park. The cuisine, by chef de cuisine Stephen Sherman, is contemporary American with an emphasis on regional ingredients and an all-American wine list | Vinalia has opened in the former location of Dakota’s on Arch Street in Downtown Crossing | It’s a sad day when a classic restaurant, owned by a beloved restaurant family, decides the enterprise has run its course. Maison Robert will close on Valentine’s Day, after more than 30 years in the grand space of Boston’s Old City Hall. The Robert family—Lucien, Ann, and daughter Andrée—have been feeding fine French fare to Bostonians since 1957, when Lucien and Ann opened their first restaurant, Maître Jacques, bringing French dining to this city.


Sushi spotlight. Shaw’s Crab House is adding a sushi team headed by chef Naoki Nakashima, formerly of NoMi. Born in Japan, Nakashima honed his cooking skills in restaurants in Hong Kong and Malaysia | Latin has fused with Indian cuisine at the newly opened Vermillion, on the former Palaggi’s site near downtown. The menu offers upscale tapas-size portions in a contemporary Indian setting (meaning no Taj Mahal travel posters) | It’s billed as an “American-style brasserie. The Art Deco–inspired Viand Bar & Kitchen, just off the Magnificent Mile in Streeterville, has an eclectic menu of small plates by Jay Denham, including Cajun-seared beef carpaccio, Kobe meatloaf, and country-style duck pâté | Restaurateurs Jerry Kleiner and Howard Davis have opened Saiko next to sister properties Opera and Gioco in the South Loop. Chef Paul Wildermuth says he is offering “funky” sushi, and a twist on steakhouse dishes using Japanese flavors | Ballydoyle pub has opened in suburban Downers Grove, complete with a carved wooden church confessional | SWK has opened in a truly swanky spot—the former site of Swank, in the River North gallery district, which closed because of a fire shortly after its first anniversary last year. The new eatery, which is not affiliated with the old place, offers French-inspired dishes, including a foie gras BLT created by chef Joel Cooper (ex-Savor) | Flight has taken off in suburban Glenview. The new contemporary restaurant and wine bar is featuring “flights” of food, such as lamb chops prepared three ways, or seafood tartare trios, matched to flights of wine.


Strip tease. Peter and Penny Glazier are planning to open an outpost of their New York steakhouse The Strip House in downtown’s Houston Center (aka the Park Shops). Like its New York counterpart, the interior will be deep red, with pictures of old-time burlesque stars. The menu is courtesy of corporate chef David Walzog | Landry’s Restaurants has purchased Pesce from Damian Mandola and Johnny Carrabba. Mark Holley will stay on as executive chef | Vittorio Preteroti, who ran Buca di Bacco in Pennzoil Place from 1990 to 2002, is reopening in the same spot. The restaurant’s new name is Perbacco, and it will specialize in dishes from Capri | Didier Dessemond is executive chef of the new 1,200-room Hilton Americas—Houston downtown. He comes here from a Hilton in Los Angeles | Former Houston chef Michael Frietsch has returned to the Bayou City and, with partner Todd Johnson, recently purchased the River Oaks Grill.


Ivy League. Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, former owners of The Ivy and Le Caprice, have opened The Wolseley in the former China House space on Piccadilly. David Loewi (ex-Conran) is the third partner in this venture, and Chris Galvin (ex-The Orrery) is in charge of the kitchen. The all-day restaurant offers a brasserie-style menu and an intimate salon for afternoon tea | Allium is Anton Edelmann’s first venture since his departure from the Savoy Hotel, offering modern European cuisine in Pimlico | Coach & Horses, a Clerkenwell pub, has been refurbished by a new team, including chef Paul Adams (ex-Alastair Little). There is an attractively priced modern European menu | Osteria Antica Bologna has opened a sibling called Fabbrica in Battersea | Max Renzland has opened Le Petit Max, serving a classic bistro menu in Battersea | RV2 has opened on Shaftesbury Avenue in Soho, a former McDonald’s site. The southern Indian menu includes some modern European influences | The owners of Osteria Basilico and Mediterraneo have taken over the former Zilli site in Notting Hill and opened Essenza, serving a small modern Italian menu | Cecconi’s has been taken over by Soho House. No changes have been announced as of yet | There is a new branch of Momo’s in Selfridge’s department store, on the second floor.


More room at the Inn. Jean-Louis De Mori’s Locanda Veneta has been popular for its Venetian specialties since it opened across from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in the late ’80s. The more moderately priced Cafe Veneto has just opened next door. Chef Benjamin Leib prepares cicchetti, Italian-style tapas | The Patina Group has taken over Kendall’s Brasserie and Bar (formerly Otto’s) at The Music Center and totally revamped the place. Eric Lhuillier’s menu is classic brasserie with contemporary touches | Richard Shapiro may have co-founded chichi The Grill on The Alley in Beverly Hills in 1984, but what he really wanted was to open an old-fashioned hot dog stand in the San Fernando Valley. Now he has The Stand | Xiomara Ardolina (Xiomara, Café Atlantic) has finally opened the long-delayed Xiomara on Melrose in a former antiques emporium. The menu is Nuevo Latino | Avinash Kapoor has opened a fourth Akbar Cuisine of India, this one in Hermosa Beach | Hans Till (ex-Hyatt Regency Long Beach) and his wife, Candace, have opened fine-dining Fora in Long Beach. The menu is Cal-eclectic with European touches | Stefano Orsini (Orsini) is consulting executive chef for Troubadours in Woodland Hills. The menu is a melange of Orsini’s Italian classics, gourmet pizzas, and Cal-Asian offerings | Ricardo Zarate (ex-MJU Restaurant at the Millennium Hotel, London) has taken over the kitchen at Saisai Contemporary Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown LA. He’s added Peruvian-Japanese dishes such as pan-fried oysters with chilies and salsa | Colin Crannell (Los Feliz Restaurant & Jazz Spot, Water Grill) is the new chef at Oceanfront Restaurant at Hotel Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica | Tokay Rogers is now chef at Jimmy’s Tavern in West Los Angeles. Rogers relocated from Las Vegas, where he was executive sous-chef at André Rochat’s Alizé at the Top of The Palms | Now wearing the whites at The Smokehouse Café at Ponte Family Estate Winery in Temecula is Corinne Poignet (ex-Radisson Hotels corporate executive chef) | Food broker Lloyd E. Rigler has died at his Hollywood home at 88. Rigler knew he had struck a potential culinary gusher when he happened upon a foolproof meat tenderizer with a papaya enzyme base in Adolph Remp’s Santa Barbara restaurant in 1948. Rigler and partner Lawrence Deutsch bought the recipe and went into business, and decades later Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer is still used in thousands of restaurant kitchens. The pair sold the thriving business in 1974 to BestFoods Brands (now part of Unilever.) Rigler spent his latter years supporting the arts.


Mucho Mario. The charismatic Batali/Bastianich partnership that brought us Babbo, Lupa, and Otto, has crossed into Spanish territory with the new Bar Jamón, a Spanish snack bar, and the adjacent Casa Mono, serving an expanded Spanish menu. Their chef/partner in the new Gramercy Park venture is Andy Nusser from Babbo, who turns out splendid pumpkin-and-goat-cheese croquetas and seafood a la plancha | Culinary masterpieces. Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group is to run the restaurants at the Museum of Modern Art when it reopens next year after a major renovation. They’re planning a restaurant, bar, and several cafes | Where would Jewish heritage be without a good nosh? Fortunately, chef Jeffrey Nathan has opened Abigail’s at the Museum inside the Museum of Jewish Heritage downtown, where he dishes out upscale kosher fare like the Kosher Cubano (kosher beef salami, smoked turkey, sweet pickles, caramelized onions, jalapeño, and mashed potatoes), pastrami panini, and chocolate-covered marble halvah. The space is large, has gorgeous views, and is available for catered affairs, too | One is the latest multilevel restaurant, raw bar, and lounge in the Meatpacking District. Owners Celeste Fierro, an events planner, and Erica Cohen, who works in the fashion industry, have hired chef Gavin Citron to create a grazing menu with categories like Naked, Bundles, and Cream. Citron previously worked his Asian magic at Aja, Aleutia, and Celadon in Manhattan. As soon as we get past the stanchions at One, we’ll report on the food | Adrian Leon, formerly of Rosa Mexicano, is chef at the newly opened Zona Rosa in Midtown, named after a trendy neighborhood in Mexico City. He is offering modern interpretations of Mexican classics, such as corn dough lasagna with chicken, and filet mignon in mole sauce. The restaurant has a lively cantina, an intimate dining room, and even a take-out taquería window | Last October, we reported that David Burke was teaming up with Donatella Arpaia to transform the Il Valetto space into a new restaurant. At the newly opened davidburke & donatella, Burke’s trademark playful cooking is much in evidence in dishes like gingersnap barbecued squab and strudel with bubble gum sorbet | Roman makeover. François Latapie and partners, who own La Goulue and Orsay, have revamped La Corniche into La Cicala. The Upper East Side restaurant is now a Roman osteria specializing in crisp pizzas | Time for a change. Coco Pazzo Teatro in the Time Hotel will become Ocèo this month. The Theater District restaurant will offer an eclectic international menu from chef Shane McBride. His manager/partner is Jean-Philippe Leloup; both are Lespinasse alumni | Uptown, downtown. Hans Pauli opened Sant Ambroeus more than 20 years ago. The restaurant and coffee bar’s showcase window—bursting with gorgeous pastries and cakes—used to stop strollers dead in their tracks. Now Pauli’s son Dimitri and partner Gherardo Guarducci have taken over, moved downtown, modernized the decor, and retained chef Mario Danieli to fix the breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes we’ve come to know and love. We may have to stroll over there ourselves to make sure it’s as good as the original! | Downtown, uptown. Dean & Deluca has opened its first store branch on the Upper East Side | Little India just got bigger. The new Cardamomm is a cozy spot focusing on seafood prepared by Tuhin Dutta, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute who stage-ed at Bouley and Daniel. He also trained in his family’s catering business in Calcutta | Everything’s coming up Asian. First up, Geisha on the Upper East Side from proprietors Fabio Granato and Vittorio Assaf, who also own several Serafina restaurants. David Rockwell designed the multilevel space. Michael Vernon, formerly sous-chef at Le Bernardin, is in the kitchen, with Le Bernardin’s Eric Ripert consulting on the menu. In addition to sushi, diners can choose among such dishes as Spanish mackerel tartare, poached halibut with ginger sauce, and coconut-marinated fluke with coconut ponzu, lime vinaigrette, and orange essence | Also just in from Japan is Lady M, whose French-style cakes are for sale on the lower level of Takashimaya department store. The selection includes the signature mille crêpe—20 layers of gossamer crêpes layered with cream under a burnt-sugar top | Asian expansion. Frederick Lesort, an owner of Lemon and Opia, has taken over the space that was previously Jack’s Fifth and before that Pondicherry. Lesort, who specializes in lounge restaurants, plans to open an Asian eatery this spring | Magnolia Bakery loses an employee, but Chelsea gains a cupcake. Billy Reece, who managed Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich Village, beloved for homey cupcakes and oversize American layer cakes, has departed to open Billy’s in Chelsea. Baker Bel Torres bakes pineapple upside-down cakes, luscious pound cakes, pies, cookies, and, of course, cupcakes in a farmhouse-style kitchen | La Bottega is the second restaurant to open in Chelsea’s trendy new Maritime Hotel. It joins Tadashi Ono’s Matsuri. John DeLucie, until recently the chef at the Tribeca Grand Hotel, oversees the Italian menu at La Bottega, with its lengthy antipasto listing, traditional pastas, pizzas, and main courses. The brasserie decor has big mirrors and white tiles | From surf to turf. As we reported last month, Laurent Tourondel, formerly of the Upper East Side seafoodery Cello, is opening a steakhouse, but the name is now BLT Steak, short for Bistro Laurent Tourondel, not our favorite sandwich | Aquavit owners Hakan Swahn and Marcus Samuelsson have announced they will relocate their restaurant when the lease ends in about a year. They expect to stay in the same neighborhood | Mario Lohninger has left David Bouley’s Danube. He plans to pursue a culinary project with his father in Frankfurt. Bouley has not yet named a replacement.


El Vez lives. Stephen Starr has opened the Nuevo Latino restaurant El Vez on South 13th Street, formerly Trust. Starr (Buddakan, Pod) describes it as “a gritty East L.A.-meets-Tijuana taxi vibe,” with food by Alma de Cuba chef Jose Garces. The Rockwell Group designed the space, including the Charo kitsch.


Chef Vic Tome has bought the Banksville Union Grill from former partner Eric Nernberg. Now Whiskey Hollow Grill, the restaurant serves casual American food and clever desserts, such as a white chocolate–banana burrito. Nernberg continues to operate the Union Grill in Oakland | Joseph Mico and his wife, Jennifer, have reinvented their Squirrel Hill restaurant, Pino, as Pino’s Café Rustica. Executive chef Lon Durbin oversees an eclectic menu ranging from jambalaya to Indonesian beef rendang. The original restaurant’s pizzas and pastas are now on the menu at Pino’s Mercato in Point Breeze | Scott Kerschbaumer and Daniel McGreevy have reopened Cross Keys restaurant in Fox Chapel. The executive chef is Brad Marks (ex-The Breakers, Palm Beach), and the sous-chef is Bill Wiemer (ex-The Ocean Reef Club, Key Largo) | Crawford Grill in the Hill District has spawned Crawford Grill on the Square in South Side, a jazz club with Southern cooking | The new restaurant in the restructured Fox Chapel Yacht Club is Don Mario’s (not part of the chain). Executive chef Rich Johnson moves from Palomino to head the kitchen, serving steak and seafood with Italian touches | Reportedly closed for renovations, Froggy’s downtown will not reopen. After 25 years, restaurateur Steve “Froggy” Morris has opted to retire | Paul LeBlanc, a 20-year Hilton veteran, has landed in Pittsburgh as the downtown Hilton Hotel’s new executive chef | Seasoned chef Tom Operferman directs the new cult-Italian Sopranos in the Strip District | Roofing magnate/restaurateur Ed Dunlap and partner Alex Colaizzi have formed Pittsburgh Fine Dining to revive landmark restaurants. Dunlap already rescued Le Mont, on Mount Washington, and The Colony, in Scott Township. He’s looking to resurrect both the Park Schenley and Klein’s, a seafood restaurant that closed in 1992. Dunlap intends to replicate his retro-iconic restaurants nationwide | Moroccan-born and French-trained chef Omar Mediouni opened Casablanca in the Cultural District. The restaurant serves French-Moroccan and Spanish cuisine.


Deborah Helm has opened her third Mission Cafe on 12th Street in the Gaslamp quarter | J. C. Esquivel has come back to his old position of executive chef at Chive in the Gaslamp. He returns after a hiatus at Seven | Hanis Cavin has found a new roost; he’s the new executive chef at the Hilton Gaslamp. The hotel is redesigning its dining room. Cavin will develop a new direction for the kitchen | Gino Campbell has joined the staff at La Jolla’s Marine Room as dining room manager and sommelier | Aaron Daily is executive chef of the new Cilantro’s by the Sea in The Lumberyard complex in coastal Encinitas. Daily comes to the restaurant from El Bizcocho at the Rancho Bernardo Inn | Keith Lord is the executive chef at the new Roppongi in Palm Springs. The restaurant is owned and operated by Ladeki Restaurant Group in La Jolla.


Cuban revolution. At opposite ends of the Bay Area, two restaurants with the pre-Castro flavor of Cuba have opened. On the Peninsula, Sam DuVall has followed up on the popularity of his Habana restaurant with Habana Yacht Club in San Carlos. In the burgeoning hamlet of Healdsburg, Mark and Terri Stark (Willi’s Wine Bar in Santa Rosa) opened Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar. The theme is fresh fish, but the design by Shawn E. Hall has Cuban flair | Eric Torralba, executive chef of Domaine Chandon, left the acclaimed winery restaurant in early November and quickly raised $1.3 million to open his own | The once-popular Gordon’s House of Fine Eats on Florida Street will reopen this year as a lounge called Circulo.


On wings. Acclaimed executive chef Johnathan Sundstrom of Earth & Ocean in the W Hotel has left to open a neighborhood bistro. His Lark fills the Capitol Hill space vacated by Kokeb. Maria Hines, recently at Eleven Madison Park in New York City, replaces him at Earth & Ocean | Roy Breiman joins the staff at the Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie as executive chef. He was most recently at Avalon in Portland | John McNabb is now chef of Cayenne in the Silver Cloud Hotel on Capitol Hill. The menu is upscale Mexican | Failed lease negotiations have spelled the closure of Craig Kolbitz and Ellen Brown’s Belltown Pub in the popular Belltown restaurant district. The pair will concentrate on their Queen Anne bistro Firefly. Byron Shultz has announced his departure as corporate chef of Salty’s on Alki. Owner Gerry Kingen is looking to remodel. Also departing is general manager Cooper Mills, a veteran of 10 years with Happy Guests International.


Jiyugaoka Sweets Forest opened in November, occupying three floors of a building in western Tokyo. The shops bring together some of Tokyo’s highest-profile sweets chefs, such as Yukihiko Kawaguchi, who opened Japan’s first specialty chocolate store in 1986, and Keiyo Umesawa, head of a popular bread workshop | Yoshio Tachibana, scion of a family of classically trained Japanese chefs, has opened his own restaurant in Azabu Juban. But Kinnai breaks from tradition by adding a Champagne brunch on weekends | In Shimbashi, the first floor of two-level Ginmi Ogon-no-Shita re-creates the look of Tsukiji Market, Tokyo’s fish wholesale market. Ingredients are purchased that day from Tsukiji, and Soichiro Morita prepares them simply, making sashimi, nigiri-zushi, and shio-yaki (salt grilled) items | Murasakino Wakuden has opened Marunouchi, an outpost of a century-old Kyoto teahouse. Besides the kaiseki bento, the shop offers ceramic tableware, lacquerware, and Japanese paper.


Face-lifts. First it was Vidalia, then 1789 Restaurant. Now Bob Kinkead has closed his Kinkead’s downtown for a $1 million renovation. He plans to reopen this month | Johnny Monis has taken over as chef/owner of Komi, named for a beach on the Greek island of Chios. It replaces Vivo on 17th Street NW, near Dupont Circle. Monis was executive chef at Chef Geoff’s downtown | Phannarai Promprasert is chef at the new Rice on 14th Street at Logan Circle. He hails from Tara Thai in Rockville and Busara in Glover Park | Ernesto Pabico is the chef at CC Bistro Lounge & Restaurant at the Crystal City Marriott | Martin Saylor, former executive chef at New Heights and Butterfield 9, is now working for Aramark, the foodservice contractor at the Federal Reserve. Arthur Rivaldo replaces him | Mike Cordero (Café Salsa in Alexandria) plans to open a 6,000-square foot Caribbean Breeze in Ballston, serving Latin food | William C. Anton and Patricia Miller Anton of Anton Airfood have donated $4.7 million to the Culinary Institute of America, the largest personal gift in CIA’s history. The money will fund a plaza overlooking the Hudson River on the college’s Hyde Park campus.


Marble Falls, TX
Mark Schmidt (ex-AquaKnox in Dallas, Compound Restaurant in Santa Fe) has opened Café 909, serving seasonal, contemporary American cuisine.

McMinnville, OR
The 11th Annual McMinnville Wine & Food Classic takes place March 26 to 28 in Oregon’s wine country. Admission is $10. For more information, visit

Port Jefferson, Long Island
Calling all chocoholics. Claire’s Confections is the brainchild of Angela Fields and pastry chef Laure de Montebello. We envy the latter’s daughter, after whom the shop is named, who must be up to her chin in excellent nut-studded toffee, buttery caramels, and rich chocolate truffles. Thankfully, they ship.

Portsmouth, NH
Duncan Boyd and George Frangos have opened Victory 92 State Street, serving New England cuisine by Boyd (ex-Restaurant Nora, Jaspers, Olives) in a restored 1820s house. Menu items include fresh and smoked haddock chowder, lobster potpie, and peach and blueberry turnover.

Washington, CT
Jamie West has moved east from Santa Barbara’s San Ysidro Ranch to become executive chef of The Mayflower Inn. Some of West’s signature dishes are salmon with wasabi potatoes, and beef filet with Gorgonzola.

United States
Did your nonna make great lasagna? Was your grandfather known for his homemade sausages? Does Mom cook perfect polenta? The National Italian American Foundation and Progresso Quality Foods are asking Italian-Americans to send in their favorite family recipes and stories to create a national archive. Cookbook author and Bon Appétit columnist Marie Simmons, a third-generation Italian-American, is touring the country to spread the word.