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   November 2004

CHICAGO

It’s enough to make you wonder how Shy-town got its nickname. Billy Marovitz, the former state senator and spouse of Playboy magazine’s Christie Hefner, has two new restaurants on deck. Marovitz, who was instrumental in bringing the now-closed Spago to Chicago in the ’90s, is joining restaurateurs Steve Lombardo and Hugo Ralli (Gibsons and Hugo’s Frog Bar) to open Quartina, an Italian eatery in the old Napa Valley Grill site. For the second, as yet unnamed restaurant, which will have a Latin flavor, Marovitz has hooked up with restaurant developer Jerry Kleiner (Marché), Opera, Red Light). The plan is to shake up the former Drink nightclub location | Ciao to longtime favorite Stefani’s, Phil Stefani’s namesake restaurant on the North Side for 24 years. A familiar song: gentrification gobbles up popular neighborhood Italian eatery. Meanwhile, Stephani Restaurant Group has re-opened Lino’s as L8. Designed as an après-club dining destination, the venture is a collaboration with Sound Bar Group | Which end is up? South has just opened on the Far North Side. The BOYB restaurant, formerly known as The Room, got a makeover and now features upscale Southern and Southwestern fusion cuisine. Linda Raydl is executive chef | He was one of Food & Wine magazine’s Top Ten New Chefs for 2004, and now Graham Elliot Bowles is the new chef de cuisine at Avenues in the posh Peninsula Hotel Chicago. Also on board as executive pastry chef is Brian Schoenbeck, formerly of The Greenbrier in West Virginia. The two previously worked together at Charlie Trotter’s | Szechwan East has closed, and owner Alfred Hsu reportedly is negotiating a lease on another location | No fall break for these culinary schools. Evanston’s Kendall College is moving to the former research facility for Sara Lee Corporation, just west of downtown on the Chicago River. President Howard Tullman anticipates the four-year culinary school will more than quadruple enrollment to 3,000 in the next three years. Also expanding is the nearby Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, which just opened five new kitchens. More than 1,300 students attend classes—a 55 percent increase over last year. And the two-year-old Institute of Culinary Arts at Robert Morris College in Aurora, has begun a Chicago program in the South Loop, where two teaching kitchens have been built | Chef Ryan McCaskey has left Tizi Melloul, but is planning to return with his own restaurant, a contemporary French-American eatery, early next year. He’s got his eye on the West Loop | Chestnut Grill & Wine Bar has debuted in the former Cantare space on East Chestnut Street. Owner Benny Sidhu remade his former Italian eatery into an American grill with Mediterranean influences. For the new venture, Sidhu, who also owns Volare, is partnering with Lezlie Keebler, partner at the now-closed Biggs | Troy Graves has been promoted from sous-chef to chef at Meritage, replacing Dirk Flanigan, who left to open Blue Water, which is expected to debut any minute in River North.
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HOUSTON

Kiran Verma sold her Ashiana restaurant in early August and is scouting places closer to town. The decision wasn’t easy, she said, but she’s always dreamed of a fine-dining restaurant near the 610 Loop. The new Kiran’s concept will treat Indian cuisine with a Continental flair. Many will recognize Latika Bhatija, who is taking over at Ashiana | Dan Tidwell and partner Jamie Mize closed their Smith Street Treebeards this summer and reopened the location as Mimi’s Kitchen, a takeout spot featuring sandwiches, soups, and salads | Erawan Authentic Thai Cuisine has relocated to 5161 San Felipe | Blood runs thicker than salsa. Joe Levit left the retail grocery business in 1923. In August, his heirs returned when the Levit family-owned grocery wholesaler Grocers Supply Co. acquired Fiesta Mart, the city’s largest ethnic grocery chain | On the drawing board: Bambolino will take over the Westheimer location that was Café Complique, which has re-opened downtown. Cedric Guerin has purchased Basil’s on Bammel Lane and will call the new place Bistro Calais | Why did the restaurant cross the road? Ciro Lampasas is relocating Ciro’s in early 2005 because the Katy Freeway is expanding | Café Rabelais is planning a move into the old Fusion Café location | Bill Loftus and Nancy French are opening their Deco Diner on a small triangle of downtown land at Brazos and Pierce. They had the diner built elsewhere, trucked in on two trailers, and assembled on-site | The Omni Hotel just off Woodway is changing its restaurant. Look for Noé to debut this fall | Lance Fegen will assume responsibilities at Trevísio, the restaurant atop the John P. McGovern Building in the Medical Center. Fegen still oversees the kitchen at Zula, too | Aldo Elsharif has found a new stove at Sorrento down the street from his now-shuttered restaurant | The InterContinental Houston has named Peter Laufer as its new executive chef. He joins the hotel from Miami’s Hotel InterContinental, where he was executive banquet chef, and he replaces chef Bixente Pery, who has left Houston to become executive chef at the new InterContinental Buckhead in Atlanta.
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LOS ANGELES

After setting the standard for elegant, fine dining in Orange County for 20 years, The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel has closed as part of a long-anticipated $30 million renovation. When the space reopens it will have transformed into a casual breakfast, lunch, and dinner cafe with an ocean view. After nine years of award-winning service, chef Yvon Goetz moves up the coast to David Wilhelm’s Culinary Adventures (Chat Noir, French 75, and Rouge Bistro) as corporate executive chef. In other Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel news, Joel Harrington moves into the top toque slot at The Terrace Restaurant, the resort’s casual all-day restaurant with a Cal-Asian accent | In the 15 months that the youthful Christophe Eme ran the kitchen at the venerable L’Orangerie, he successfully refreshed the menu. Now Eme is poised to open his own place, Ortolan, on the site of the departed Linq on L.A.’s bustling West Third Street restaurant corridor. Serious French cuisine with a touch of whimsy will be on the menu in a more relaxed setting than L’Orangerie. Expect Eme’s signature squab with macaroni and cheese | Chef/proprietor Richard Mead (Sage) has just added Sage on the Coast in the new, ocean-view Crystal Cove Promenade to his growing Newport Beach restaurant portfolio. The food is American regional with daily specials from the area farmers’ markets. The Promenade is slated to add a host of prominent destination restaurants in the coming months | The long-departed Schwab’s Drugstore on the Sunset Strip was an icon in the Golden Age of Hollywood. According to L.A. lore, Lana Turner was discovered there, and the Schwab Brothers were beloved for giving struggling young actors credit. (Bill Holden’s character frequents Schwab’s in Sunset Boulevard.) Restaurateur Steve Herbert (ex-The Cannery) and the developer of the Sunset+Vine mixed-use center in Hollywood have reinvented the former lunch counter/soda fountain as Schwab’s Restaurant with a full liquor license serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. The chef is Katsuji Tanabe, formerly of Houston’s in Santa Monica. The offerings are American comfort food with a mix of Italian specialties | For 38 years, Beverly Hills’ La Dolce Vita, serving classic New York–style Italian dishes, has kept a low-profile yet remained perennially popular. Now producers Ben Myron, David Simmer, and Alessandro Uzielli have assumed the stewardship, and carefully restored the space to retain the classic 1970s feel. Longtime chef Jeronimo Ceballos still prepares the dishes that were favorites of regular Frank Sinatra. Maître d’ Ruben Castro graciously seats the dinner guests as he has since 1974 | Spin Rotisserie Chicken in Marina del Rey is a healthful, quick service cafe from restaurateur Brooks Townsend (Grace and Sangria). The heart of the menu is chicken with a variety of fresh-daily, house-made hot and cold sides. Also check out the oven-baked “Turkey Fuhgettabouit Meatloaf,” served with garlic sauce | Paul’s in Westlake Village is the collaboration of chef Laurent Baillon (ex-Del Rey Yacht Club and the original pastry chef at Jimmy’s) and general manager Paul Lloyd (ex-Café Bizou). The neighborhood concept is gourmet fare, simply prepared, at reasonable prices | Dominick’s, originally opened on Beverly Boulevard in West Hollywood in 1948, has been reinvented a couple of times under various owners in the last decade. Before it recently went dark, the place always attracted the celebrity crowd. Now chef Brandon Boudet and front-of-the-house partner Warner Ebbink have revived the establishment, serving a grazing menu of Italian tapas. The pair also operate the 101 Coffee Shop in Hollywood | Floridian Jason Cline (ex-Four Seasons Aviara in San Diego) is now executive chef at Paladar Bistro Cubano in Hollywood. He’s added “Menu de la Noche” service, offering late night Cuban breakfast dishes served until 4:00 p.m. on weekends | There has been a changing of the toques at Zax in Brentwood. Newly installed is Sara Levine (ex-Vibrato) overseeing a Cal-Mediterranean menu. Former chef Gavin Portsmouth has relocated to New York to work on a restaurant project with Patricia Yeo | Since the original Jimmy’s in Century City closed—after a two-decade-plus run—there have been two attempts by the founding Murphy Family to relaunch the restaurant. The most recent variation, the more casual Jimmy’s Tavern, debuted in a different Rancho Park location in early 2002 with the youthful David Fouts cooking. Fouts left after only six months, and now the place has closed. For the interim, the Murphys plan to operate as a private party space and catering kitchen.
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NEW ORLEANS

Susan Spicer opened Cobalt in the Hotel Monaco and stayed on as consultant until about a year ago when the chef, Brack May, shifted the menu away from her Mediterranean/Creole influence toward Southern cooking. The change seemed to work well, but he ultimately decided a hotel kitchen and banquet facilities were not for him. Now both Cobalt and May are seeking new arrangements | Popular brunch spot Cafe Degas has a new chef: Ryan Hughes, former executive chef of the Lee Circle (which closed earlier this year). Stephen Hassinger, who ran the kitchen for a handful of years, is to be the chef/owner of a New Orleans–style restaurant about as far north of the Mason-Dixon line as you can get—in Gibsons, British Columbia, Canada | Sweet Ginger has taken over the space formerly known as Benjarong in the Omni Crescent Hotel. The owner, Diana Chauvin, also claims Bangkok Cuisine, La Thai Cuisine, and Panasia. Chef Mimi, from Bangkok, will run the kitchen | Executive chef Scott Snodgrass has left Clancy’s and plans to open One Restaurant and Lounge on the site of the old Padrino Cafe. His replacement is Steve Manning, who was chef at Clancy’s for a time before opening Bayou restaurant in New York City.
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NEW YORK

Try over 300 wines, meet winemakers, and learn about the wine regions of Australia at the 7th Annual Australia Day Harvest Festival on Thursday, January 27 at Gotham Hall, 1356 Broadway at 36th Street, New York, NY. Brought to you by the Australian Wine Bureau. Call 212-351-6585 or email awb.usa@wineaustralia.com for more information. | Need a little exercise after your Thanksgiving feast? How about a walking (and eating) tour of the Lower East Side? Join in the Annual Post-Thanksgiving Multi-Ethnic Eating Tour - Noshing on the Lower East Side, presented by Big Onion Tours and the New York Historical Society, on Friday, November 26 at 1:00pm. $12 for adults and $10 for students, seniors (over 63 years), and members of the New-York Historical Society, plus an additional charge of $4 per person for the noshing stops. The tour lasts approximately two hours and covers 1.5- 2 miles. Meet at the Southeast corner of Delancey and Essex Streets, in front of the Olympic Diner. Call (212) 439-1090 to reserve | Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani (GRI), an association of the leading Italian restaurateurs in the US, presents Vino e Cucina, an Italian food and wine event featuring food from over a dozen of the country’s top Italian restaurants and over 100 Italian wines. This year, Vino e Cucina celebrates the City of Rome and welcomes guest chef Massimo Riccioli, owner of La Rosetta restaurant. The event will be held Monday, November 15, 2004 at the new Cipriani 23rd Street at 200 Fifth Avenue in New York City from 7:00 to 10:00 pm. Tickets are $75 in advance and $90 at the door. To purchase tickets please call 212-262-2128 or go to www.gruppo.com | The Hearts for Hope Gala to benefit City of Hope Cancer Center will take place on Thursday, November 4, 2004, at Capitale,130 Bowery, New York City, from 7 pm to Midnight. VIP Tickets, $250 in advance or $300 at the door. VIPs will feast on culinary delights prepared by Chef Eric Francou of Mad 28 and Chef Joseph Macri of Candela. Gala Tickets, $150 in advance or $200 at the door. The evening's entertainment includes live cabaret, bands, DJ provided by Q104.3, dancing, raffles, silent and live auction. Black-Tie Optional. For additional event information visit www.cityofhope.org/newyork/heartsforhope or contact City of Hope at 212-645-3800 or 800-732-7205 | Chef Anita Lo’s latest culinary production, Rickshaw Dumpling Bar, is slated to open this month in Chelsea. She will continue to oversee her critically acclaimed Annisa in the West Village | Bait. The former Cantina space in SoHo has been transformed into Lure Fishbar by owner John McDonald, consulting chef John Capon, and chef de cuisine Gregory Brainin. The mostly seafood restaurant has the feel of a luxury ocean liner and is reeling in customers with dishes such as popcorn shrimp with black bean mayo; red snapper with olives, lime, and chilies; and grilled skewers of yellowtail, foie gras, and pineapple | Shifting chefs. Alex Urena has left behind Marseille as well as his South-of-France style to take over the kitchen of the dramatically designed, Spanish-influenced Suba on the Lower East Side. Andy D’Amico, who is the chef at Nice Matin, adds Marseille to his responsibilities | Radio host Arthur Schwartz has abruptly resigned from his daily Food Talk program. Neither he nor the station management is talking. Schwartz had hosted the hourlong segment for more than 12 years. He plans to promote his latest cookbook, conduct culinary tours in Italy, and consult | Bobby Flay has announced new plans for the late, lamented JUdson Grill space in Midtown. Instead of the Latin restaurant he originally envisioned, he’s decided on an American brasserie to be called Bar Americain and to be designed by David Rockwell. Flay has been busy reworking regional American dishes such as smoked pork chops with green onion grits and cedar-planked salmon with pinot noir sauce | Grange Hall restaurant in Greenwich Village is now The Blue Mill. The 1940s decor evokes the restaurant, of the same name, that operated in the space from 1941 until the early 1990s. Chef Pitita Lago, formerly of the Rainbow Room, cooks upscale blue plate specials like lobster Newburg and prime rib | La Masseria, a new southern Italian restaurant in the Theater District overseen by chef Pino Coladonato, evokes a rustic farmhouse, complete with stone walls and ceiling beams. Owner Peppe Iuele also owns the excellent La Locanda, nearby. Don’t miss the limoncello tiramisu | Londonbound. Andrew Di Cataldo—formerly of Flatiron’s Patria, Lucy Mexican Barbecue, and Pipa—is developing a Brazilian restaurant in London. Phil Suarez, owner of Di Cataldo’s three former venues, has not yet announced a replacement | Runs in the family. Chef Richard Sandoval’s brother, Patricio Sandoval, formerly of Hawthorne Lane in San Francisco, has opened a restaurant in the East Village. With such dishes as shrimp seviche with serrrano chilies, coconut milk, and grilled pineapple, Mercadito offers sophisticated Mexican cooking. Outstanding tacos filled with ancho-pasilla-rubbed pork and beer-battered tilapia are sold by weight | Goodbye Windy City, Hello Big Apple! David Shea, former chef of Spruce in Chicago, and his wife Laura, have opened the charming Applewood in Park Slope, Brooklyn. As you might expect from adherents to the Slow Food movement, Applewood features regional American fare with an emphasis on the farms that supply the raw ingredients | Chef Anthony Demes and his wife and partner, Maura Jarach, ran the acclaimed Couvron in Portland, Oregon, for nearly a decade. The menu at the diminutive French charmer was “one of the most extraordinary in the city,” per Frommer’s guide. Lucky for us, the owners have decided to relocate Couvron to northern TriBeCa, and they’ve brought their signature dishes with them: cold-smoked Oregon quail with organic fingerling potatoes and truffles; saddle of rabbit with lentils and foie gras; and Maine dayboat lobster with corn and Vidalia onion ragoût | Calling all chocoholics. The 7th Annual Chocolate Show returns to New York this month from Thursday, November 11 through Sunday, November 14 at the Metropolitan Pavillion & Altman Building in Chelsea. It features culinary demonstrations by famous pastry chefs, a gallery of chocolate showpieces, chocolate exhibitors (and presumably samples!) from around the world, and activities for children. Visit the website, chocolateshow.com, or call 1-866-CHOC-NYC, for more information | An extra set of hands. Gerry Hayden of Amuse has brought in chef Bobby Duncan to help run day-to-day operations. The presence of Duncan, most recently at Dylan Prime steakhouse in Tribeca, will allow Hayden to focus on special events.
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SAN DIEGO

Luna Lounge has opened on J Street downtown. The restaurant features pan-Asian specialties and is the latest addition to the area surrounding the new ballpark | 6th and J is home to yet another meat palace in the Gaslamp. LG Steakhouse is the fourth for the southern California chain. It serves only prime beef | Jonathan Pfluger has been named executive chef at the Rancho Valencia Resort. Pfluger comes back to San Diego after a stint as executive chef at Laguna Beach’s Montage Resort & Spa. Another Montage veteran, Scott Diehl, is the new chef at Del Mar’s Prime 10 Steakhouse. Diehl worked at The Loft at Montage.
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TOKYO

Chef Hiroshi Kanda has left Aoyagi to start his own restaurant, Kanda, in the Azabu Juban neighborhood. His version of Japanese food—such as ohitashi of mizuna, arugula, and herbs with a soy gelée—puts a modern spin on kaiseki cuisine | The pâtissier at Park Hyatt Tokyo (the hotel of Lost in Translation fame) has gone independent. Hideo Yokota chose Kasukabe, in the far outskirts of Tokyo, as the location for his cabin-in-the-woods-like store, Oak Wood. He continues to make the caramel choux and other Yokota-style pastries for which he became famous over his 25-year career | Azabudai restaurant Le Charbon is the third Tokyo restaurant for Taillevent-trained chef Isao Yanagidate. The street terrace and big blackboard of specials (pancetta-wrapped white asparagus with poached egg; red wine fruit soup) strike a more casual note than his original restaurant, Reims Yanagidate | Niki Club’s chef Kazushige Yamagishi is the chef de cuisine at the new Maruouchi restaurant Maison Balzac.
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OTHER OUTPOSTS

Philadelphia

Meritage, a casually elegant pan-European restaurant owned by James Colabelli (former sommelier at Davio’s) and Taylor Barneby, has replaced Bella at 20th and Lombard. The chef is the talented Grant Langdon Brown, who came from Vermont, where he worked at Sweet Woodruff Tavern & Grille. His credits also include running the kitchen at the legendary London Chop House in his native Detroit.

 

San Jose, California

The stylish new Paragon Restaurant & Bar, located downtown in the newly refurbished Hotel Montgomery, features American brasserie cuisine by executive chef Thomas Connolly, a large selection of hand-shaken cocktails, outdoor patio seating, and live jazz.
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