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    March 2004


Linton and Gina Hopkins plan to open 80-seat Restaurant Eugene in the Aramore on Peachtree Road this spring. Hopkins, formerly chef de cuisine at D.C. Coast in Washington, D.C., will serve upscale American cuisine such as pan-seared foie gras with Rainier cherries, Vidalia onion compote, and beaten biscuits | Sia Moshk, with chef Scott Serpas, has opened Mitra in Midtown. Mexican native Gerardo Ramos (ex-Pricci, Veni Vidi Vici, Dick & Harry’s) is chef de cuisine. Latin-flavored entrées include banana leaf–roasted yellowtail snapper with ham pilaf, and crabcake with guava vinaigrette | Richard Blais’s menu at the eponymous Blais is full of surprises at his new Buckhead location. There’s “canned” soup of the day (served in a can) and a deconstructed fruit salad | Morningside fish restaurant Indigo Girl has been replaced, signage and all, by Horizon. Owner Frata Eldrissi (ex-Ritz-Carlton) and David Gross (ex-City Grill) have created an elegant room and a fish-oriented menu | Fine-dining Thai restaurant Nan has moved to Midtown Heights. Try the sea bass with three-chile sauce, or barbecued lamb with green papaya | Italian goes west. Ryan Aiken’s Burrito Art on Howell Mill Road has gone Italian as Misto Italian American. The Emory Burrito Art remains as is.


Brother Jimmy’s, the restaurant that replaced the House of Blues in Cambridge, wants to “put some South in your mouth.” This includes plenty of North Carolina BBQ and booze, as well as hush puppies, fried okra, candied yams, and other traditional side dishes. The first Brother Jimmy’s opened in Manhattan in 1988, and became a destination for Southerners as well as New Yorkers; two more New York outlets followed. This is the first venture in Massachusetts | Out went upscale French-Asian fusion, in came local seafood and prime beef as Ambrosia on Huntington reopened as Blackfin Chop House and Raw Bar. Chef/owner Anthony Ambrose opened the first Blackfin in Hingham earlier this year | The latest change at the cafe in retail store Louis goes further than a new chef and a new menu. Owner Debi Greenberg renamed the reopened cafe L. Transplanted New York chef Pino Maffeo (ex-AZ, Pazo) has replaced the pasta and celebrated pizza with Asian-influenced prawn tempura and green papaya salad, and tea-smoked chicken. | The Vault, in the Financial District, has closed. Owner Brian O’Neill continues his other restaurant ventures, which include The Good Life. Chef Carmen Quagliata, who moved to Boston from California’s wine country, could end up with his own restaurant | After 21 years in the Back Bay, Frank Bell is closing The White Star Tavern on Boylston Street. The space has had several incarnations, among them Back Bay Bistro and Small Planet. Bell, who helped start the Super Hunger Brunch fund-raiser for local food banks, plans to become a consultant and insurance broker | The Butcher Shop, a wine bar with charcuterie and meats cut to order, is the newest venture from Barbara Lynch and Garrett Harker. It’s across the street from B & G Oysters, the oyster bar they opened recently | Gabriel Frasca is the new executive chef at Spire in the Nine Zero Hotel. Frasca, who recently returned to Boston after spending several months in Nantucket, was formerly chef de cuisine at Radius.


So long Spago. After a seven-year attempt to woo Chicagoans, Wolfgang Puck has pulled the plug on Spago. The business just wasn’t there for him. Although Puck invited chef François Kwaku-Dongo, who has been with him for 14 years, to move to his Las Vegas Spago, Kwaku-Dongo chose to stay in the city he has grown to love. He wants to raise his two small children here, and open his own restaurant | Eric Aubriot, who recently closed his Halsted Street restaurant, Escargot, is now executive chef at Fuse downtown. The new restaurant, in the renovated Hotel 71, combines classic French technique with contemporary flavors | Missy Robbins (SoHo Grand Hotel) has been named chef di cucina at Spiaggia. Joining her is new cafe chef Richard Camarota | Sushi bar and Japanese fusion mini-chain RA has opened in the Gold Coast. Signature items include the Tootsie Roll (crab and shrimp maki topped with sweet eel sauce and tempura bits), and filet mignon with wasabi-mashed potatoes | The North Shore suburb of Highwood is getting a taste of Italian tapas with the opening of Gapeesh! Kyle Waggoner serves small portions of pasta, meat, seafood, and vegetable entrées.


New vibe. A & M Records co-founder Herb Alpert has partnered with Robert and Gregg Smith (Pasadena’s Parkway Grill and Arroyo Chop House) to open Vibrato at the crest of Beverly Glen Boulevard and Mulholland Drive. The ambitious fine-dining restaurant is coupled with a jazz club. Sharon Funt (ex-Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse) is executive chef. Amy Pressman (ex-Old Town Bakery) consulted on the dessert menu. Alpert will oversee jazz bookings | Piero Selvaggio (Valentino) has sold Posto in Sherman Oaks to the Drago Brothers (minus family patriarch, Celestino). Chefs Giacomino (il Pastaio, Piccolo Paradiso in Beverly Hills) and Tanino Drago (Tanino) joined with veteran general manager Calogero Drago (Celestino, Pasadena) to convert the space to Panzanella, where the prices will be lower. Maître d’ Santo Selvaggio (Piero’s younger brother) will remain. Posto, established by Selvaggio in the early 1990s, was the gold standard for Italian cuisine in the Valley | Rodolfo Costella and Franco Simplicio (Moonshadows) have opened Sunset Restaurant in the former Gray Whale in Malibu. Jo Di Jamco (ex-Café del Rey) prepares American fare with Asian touches | Rodelio Aglibot (ex-Koi) has opened YI Cuisine on West Third Street. Look for Asian food prepared with classic French technique | Oliver in Beverly Hills is the most recent restaurant venture for Mario Oliver (Linq). The space is next to the Sports Club/LA Beverly Hills. Maybe that’s why executive chef James Legge (ex-Marina City Club) emphasizes healthy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, with extensive low-fat, low-carb options | Ara Kalfayan (Kix) has opened the elegant Lebanese restaurant Mandaloun in Glendale. Michel Chammaa prepares traditional and modern Lebanese fare | Brian Wolff has been promoted from sous-chef to chef de cuisine at Lucques; ditto Daniel Mattern at sister restaurant A.O.C. Pastry chef Roxana Jullapat (ex-Opaline) now creates the sweet endings at both Lucques and A.O.C. | Frank Fronda, the opening chef for Napa Valley Grille in Westwood, has returned to these environs as the executive chef at the landmark Café del Rey in Marina del Rey. Café del Rey lost culinary direction some two years ago when its original chef, Katsuo Nagasawa, departed | Korean barbecue pioneer Woo Lae Oak in Koreatown has closed and won’t re-open until late 2005. The property is being redeveloped into a new, expanded Woo Lae Oak with ample parking. A more upscale location on Beverly Hills’ Restaurant Row remains open | Menemsha, Brad Johnson’s tribute to New England seafood in Marina del Rey, has closed just shy of its first anniversary | Former Spago Beverly Hills sommelier Michael Bonaccorsi has died of an apparent heart attack. Bonaccorsi was a popular figure at the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining restaurants for 10 years, beloved for his staff wine training programs. Most recently, he was the principal of Bonaccorsi Wine Co., a boutique producer of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. He was just 43.


Other appetites. Two brothel keepers have turned to the restaurant trade. Two Dames is the casual Italian eatery on St. Philip Street opened by Jeanette Maier (aka The Canal Street Madam) and her mother, Tommie Taylor. The duo will perform “The Happy Cooker” cooking demonstrations, Thursday through Sunday. We kid you not | Jason Doyle, the young entrepreneur who opened The Wine Loft and Huey’s 24-7 in the Warehouse District, is on the move again. This time he has two new interests in the Central Business District. The Lafayette Sports Club and Rasputin’s Restaurant will open in the Lafayette Hotel. Rasputin’s will stock more than 90 vodkas and serve traditional Russian dishes | Popular uptown Southwestern restaurant Vaqueros is expanding to Metairie, opening a second location in the former Odyssey Grill space | Kentucky native Larry Wyatt is looking to expand his Hillbilly Bar-B-Q restaurant in River Ridge | Also in the barbecue business is Tenney Flynn, chef and co-owner of GW Fins. The former director of culinary operations for Ruth’s Chris Steak House has opened Zydeque in the French Quarter. Flynn expects to serve Louisiana barbecue. His spice mixture comes from Paul Prudhomme, and it doesn’t get more authentic than that.


Waxing and waning. Jonathan Waxman and partner Roy Welland have closed Washington Park. Welland plans to renovate the space and open with a new concept, bringing on board Shea Gallante, formerly of Bouley. In the meantime, Waxman is busy on a more casual eatery, Barbuto, set to open this month in the Meatpacking District. We hope he puts his fritto misto on the menu | Ariane Daguin says skyrocketing rent forced her to close D’Artagnan, her restaurant and boutique in Midtown specializing in Gascon cuisine; she hopes to open in a new location. Meanwhile, New Yorkers who can’t wait for their fix of cassoulet and foie gras can still find D’Artagnan products online. The wholesale division also continues to do business | American Park at the Battery closed in January after disagreements with the city’s Parks Department. A group of new owners, including the owners of Terrace on the Park in Queens, plans to re-open the space with a new chef and a new name this spring. American Park chef Rad Matmati is exploring other opportunities | Mauro Mafrici has tossed his last handmade orecchiette con broccólí rabe at i Trulli, where he turned out delectable Apulian dishes for the past six years. He says he wants a kitchen to call his own. We’ll keep you posted. Owner Nicola Marzovilla and his mama, Dora, are overseeing the menu at i Trulli | Michael Haimowitz has left the wine-focused Morrells Restaurant in the Flatiron district, where he was opening chef. Previously, he was chef of the popular Morrell Wine Bar and Café at Rockefeller Center. His replacement is Patricia Williams, whose New York credentials include Butterfield 81 and City Wine & Cigar Co., both now closed | A staged version of food writer Betty Fussell’s My Kitchen Wars opens this month at the 78th Street Theatre Lab in Manhattan. Based on the food writer’s bittersweet memoir of marriage, cooking, and emancipation, the play stars Dorothy Lyman (Emmy-winning Opal Gardner from All My Children), with live jazz accompaniment by Melissa Sweeney. The show is in previews March 5 through 13; it opens on the 14th, and is scheduled to close on May 1. Call the theater or visit for more information | One man, many hats. Chris Santos oversees the tiny but delicious Southwestern and Latin menu at Mojo in the East Village. He is also an owner of Mexican Sandwich Company in Brooklyn. Now he’s added the title of executive chef of Suba on the Lower East Side to his portfolio. Santos replaces consulting chef Luis Bollo | Sashia Muniak has opened his fourth Mangia takeout shop, this one in the Flatiron neighborhood. The trademark buffet and cooked-to-order food stations are the responsibility of Tuscan chef Roberto Lamorte, who has a knack for baked asparagus with egg and Gorgonzola, and cod alla romana with fried artichokes. Muniak plans to open a full-service Italian restaurant in the West Village later this year | The times they are a-changing. For 25 years, Jean-Jacques Rachou has offered New Yorkers the haute-est of haute cuisine at La Côte Basque. Alas, that bastion of formal French dining is to close this month. Rachou plans to reopen the space in a few months as the more casual LCB Brasserie | The Asian-esque Union Pacific has reopened after a makeover. TV star/chef Rocco DiSpirito remains the executive chef of record, but the man in the kitchen on a daily basis is David Coleman, formerly of Café Atlas on Central Park West | He’ll take Manhattan. Argentine restaurateur Francis Mallman, who owns restaurants in Argentina, Uruguay, and Westhampton Beach, New York, plans to open the upscale Francis Mallman restaurant in Midtown next fall. His partner is Dennis Riese of the Riese Organization, a fast-food and chain-restaurant operator in New York | Restaurant makeover. Enoteca Antonio on the Upper East Side has transformed itself into the rustic Carvão. Chef/owner Antonio Francesco designed the dining room to reflect the menu, which marries the foods of Portugal and South America. The wood-burning oven produces a succulent chicken churrasco and baby octopus braised in red wine | Spicy & Tasty is, as it says, a Sichuan restaurant serving spicy and tasty food. The Flushing restaurant recently reopened in a new, grander location | Bronx rising. Chef Michael Sherman and his pastry chef/wife, Lisa, have opened Riverdale Garden, a restaurant, wine bar, and bakery near Manhattan College. The Shermans are putting their top-drawer New York City restaurant experiences (he—Lespinasse, Aureole, Bouley; she—Lespinasse) to good use. In the charming space they’ve created, they are serving delicious, straightforward contemporary American dishes like slow-roasted beet and goat cheese salad, mushroom risotto, and herb-crusted rack of lamb | Marco Morillo, formerly of industry (food) and Palladin, has partnered—personally and professionally—with Debbie Lyn, an alum of Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro, to open Crave in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. The cafe has a relaxed vibe, and offers affordable wines, microbrewed beers, and excellent food, such as crispy duck leg confit with caramelized pearl onions over vinegary frisée. Crave something simpler? They’ve got a mammoth burger. There is takeout and a catering company, too | Looking for harmony, good health, wealth, and peace of mind? Or are you just hungry? Grab a bite at the new Feng Shui, favorably located, we presume, on the lower-level dining concourse of Grand Central Terminal. Chef Ben Lee, previously of the Mandarin Oriental Shanghai, is preparing Chinese favorites | Partners Alessandro Prosperi and Danny Emerman seem to have a winning formula for casual Italian eateries, and an obsession with the letter “b.” Now their Barocco, Bottino, and Bot have been joined by Bivio, which has opened near the Meatpacking District. The bar boasts an enoteca menu, and the restaurant serves flavorful, rustic cooking, such as arugula and fennel salad with Parmesan, and whole roasted branzino |, in conjunction with The French Culinary Institute, is hosting the first annual Passion for Pastry Conference on March 7 and 8 at the school in SoHo. Enjoy discussions and demonstrations from Sherry Yard of Spago, Bill Yosses of Citarella, and Emily Luchetti of Farallon, among many others. Visit for more information.


Bargain hunter. Stephen Starr was the only bidder for Striped Bass, Neil Stein’s pioneering fish restaurant on Walnut Street. The $1.3 million bid in December was part of Stein’s bankruptcy proceedings. Stein, whose Avenue B closed in May, once vied with Starr for local restaurant supremacy. For now, it seems Starr has triumphed, bulking his portfolio up to ten restaurants (with three more in the works). Starr recently transformed his solid Blue Angel bistro into Italian-themed Angelina. Christopher Painter, formerly top toque at Starr’s Tangerine, is in charge of the kitchen | Frank Clement’s Tavern in Center City, open since Prohibition, has been replaced by Good Dog, with CIA grad Jessica Curley as chef | Occupying long-vacant space on lower Market Street in Old City, Panini Trattoria has opened a BYOB, specializing in panini and other things Italian | Turkish delights are to be found in Old City (along with a belly dancer on Thursday nights) at Konak on Vine Street.


Alberto Mestre, of the Gaslamp’s Candalas, has opened Ventanas in the East Village downtown. The new restaurant features a lounge and contemporary Mexican cuisine | Matt Rimel of Zenbu fame has opened Mesquite in Scripps Ranch | With the opening of the new ball park adjacent to the Gaslamp district, culinary ventures are cropping up all over. The latest to open are Bacchus Wine Market and Tasting Room and Bread on Market. Both have been welcomed by condo owners in the resurging downtown area | South Park Bar & Grill has opened with executive chef Eric Welburn at the helm. Locals love it. Welburn comes from Bradley Ogden’s Lark Creek Inn in northern California | A. J. Voytko, formerly of Chive downtown, has moved inland to the tony Inn at Rancho Santa Fe. Look forward to big changes on the meat-and-potatoes menu.


Charlie Hansji is now executive chef at Palette in the newly renovated Madison Hotel downtown. He was sous-chef at The Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown | Kathy Morgan, sommelier at Occidental Grill, has moved to Ristorante Tosca | Pascal Dionot (ex-L’Académie de Cuisine) is executive chef at The Historic Georgetown Club | Rick LaPointe has returned from Japan, where he was food critic at The Japan Times, to become retail restaurant chef at the Washington Convention Center.


Playa del Rey, CA
Chloe’s March Wine Dinner will take place on Tuesday, March 30th. Chefs Christian Shaffer and Jeff Osaka will present a five-course meal paired with some of the finest wines from Frank Family Vineyards and Napa Cellars. Featured wines will include the Frank Family Blanc de Blanc n.v., Chardonnay 2001, Sangiovese 2001, and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1998 as well as the Napa Cellars Late Harvest Zinfandel 2001. Hors d’oeuvres reception from 7:00-8:00pm, followed by dinner at 8:00pm. Chloe Restaurant is located at 333 Culver Boulevard in Playa del Rey, CA. The Wine Dinner is open to the public and is priced at $85 per guest, excluding tax and gratuity. For reservations or more information, please call 310.305.4505 or click on

Las Vegas
Get guidance on your ganache and tutoring for your torte at the World Pastry Forum Recreational Program!
The 2004 World Pastry Forum Recreational Program will be held in Las Vegas on July 5 and 6, 2004. It is a series of six, two-hour classes taught by successful luminaries of the pastry world, including Biagio Settepani, of Bruno Bakery and Pasticceria Bruno in New York City and Jenifer Witte, Executive Pastry Chef at the AAA Five Diamond Award-winning Renoir, at the Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas. Participants will receive tickets to the 2004 Inniskillin Icewine World Pastry Team Championship on July 7 and 8. For more information and enrollment go to

South Beach, FL
Join in the celebration of exquisite indulgences offered by the country’s most renowned chefs, local culinary masters, and some of the world’s most accomplished vintners. The third annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival is the ultimate culinary weekend event offering three full days of tastings, a celebrity chef dinner series, and seminars from leading industry figures. Presented by Food & Wine Magazine, net proceeds benefit the FIU School of Hospitality & Tourism Management Teaching Restaurant and its Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center. Click here for more info.

Dover, NH
Christopher “Koz” Kozlowski (Crescent City Bistro & Rum Bar) plans to open a New York–style steakhouse in the former Firehouse 1 Restaurant this May.

Greenwich, CT
UK-based Marlon Abela has opened Gaia, a fine-dining restaurant downtown. The space features vaulted arches from famed Spanish tile craftsman Rafael Guastavino (the same as in New York City’s Oyster Bar and Guastavino) and contemporary French food from Bjorn van der Horst (ex-Picholine) and pastry chef Michael Moorhouse (ex-Picholine, Ouest, Tabla). A number of signature dishes are prepared and served in sealed glass jars, which seems to be the latest fine-dining trend.

David Bouley plans to open a restaurant later this year at the spanking-new Ritz-Carlton, South Beach, in Miami Beach.

Mougins, France
Changing of the guard. Now that the world-famous chef Roger Vergé has retired, the celebrated Moulin de Mougins near Cannes has a new owner. Alain Llorca was most recently the executive chef of Le Chantecler, a Michelin two-star restaurant in the Negresco Hotel in Nice. Llorca may have some famous shoes to fill, but given his reputation, epicures needn’t worry.