news &

Find your city here:


   February 2005


The makeover is complete. Aujourd’hui at the Four Seasons redecorated last summer and now debuts its food, with chef Jérôme Legras at the helm. Legras brings an international flair to the traditional New England restaurant, after cooking for the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in France and Japan. He replaces Anthony Dawodu, who is now executive chef at 33 Restaurant & Lounge in the Back Bay | Musical chairs at the Sapphire Restaurant Group (Rialto, Noir, blu) in January: Rialto’s executive sous-chef, Tom Fosnot replaced blu’s executive chef, Dante deMagistris, who left to open his own place. Fosnot has fashioned a new blu menu with dishes like Niman Ranch pork tenderloin with heirloom hominy, fresh bacon, peas, peppers, and avocado relish | Frank De Pasquale and his Bricco executive chef, Marisa Iocco, have teamed up to offer hearty Umbrian fare at their new downtown restaurant, aptly named Umbria. Iocco struck a deal with the biologist/owner of the biggest agricultural supplier in Umbria to provide the restaurant with the best regional products. Michael Scelfo is chef de cuisine, while Lee Napoli takes charge of pastry. Both are from Dedo in Bay Village | That’s one talented family: Stephanie Sidell is the owner of the ever-popular Stephanie’s on Newbury Street and now sister Kathy Sidell Trustman has thrown her hat in the restaurant ring by opening The Metropolitan Club, a “Modern Steakhouse.” It’s located in the space previously occupied by Figs in Chestnut Hill, and the kitchen is run by executive chef Jeffrey Fournier (ex-Sophia’s in the Fenway). The menu even offers appealing options for vegetarians, like the seared watermelon steak, braised in cream sherry and butter, and served with French feta and parsley oil | Ian Just has given his ten-year-old Les Zygomates an Italian little sister right next door in the trendy Leather District. Sorriso is rustic Italian, featuring one of Boston’s largest brick ovens. Executive chef John Paine (ex Lumiere, Casablanca) combines the native foods and cooking methods of Italy with the best ingredients available in New England | Peter and Colleen McCarthy, owners of Cambridge’s EVOO, have opened a casual pizza joint in nearby Arlington, called Za. The menu features salads and thin-crust pizzas | Since late last fall, brothers Bob and David Kinkead have been “dueling it out” at Sibling Rivalry in the South End with a menu that offers two different takes on seasonal ingredients.


Vive le homecoming: The turmoil at Le Francais (see Dateline, December 2004) should be winding down, now that Roland Liccioni has returned to head the kitchen of the Wheeling landmark. Liccioni, the restaurant’s highly acclaimed chef from 1989 to 1999, came back at the urging of owner Mike Moran, who has made him chef/partner | Meanwhile, Liccioni’s move left a spot to fill at Les Nomades, where his ex-wife and owner Mary Beth Liccioni expeditiously brought on board Charlie McKenna as chef de cuisine and David Hayden as sous-chef. Both had worked together at Avenues in The Peninsula Chicago | Global cuisine served small-plate-style is the fare at the new X/O in Lakeview. Chef Bob Zrenner (formerly of North Pond, Tournesol, and Tru) is joined by pastry chef Jordan Rappaport (The Peninsula Hotel, North Pond) | RDG Chicago (Nick & Tony’s, Red Star Tavern, Bar Louie) has opened Solara Tapas Bar in Wheeling | What’s in a name? A whole lot, at least for Su Mei Tung’s newly opened restaurant in the Whitehall Hotel. It seems a Northside eatery, Fornello’s, objected strongly to Tung’s original name choice (Fornello Mei), so the proprietor obliged and renamed her Gold Coast establishment Fornetto Mei. (That’s Italian and Chinese for “beautiful little oven.”) | Speaking of names: Campagnola, the organic Evanston eatery, is back again with a hearty rustic menu. Owners Michael Altenberg and Steve Schwartz (who had changed the name to Bistro Campagne in ’03) will now offer customers the opportunity to buy organic products through the restaurant. The partners’ Lincoln Square Bistro Campagne remains unchanged | Business has been good for Ina Pinkney, aka Chicago’s “Breakfast Queen.” She just bought the building in which her namesake eatery, Ina’s Restaurant, is located. It’s near Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studio on West Randolph. Ina also is reportedly over the moon about being selected as one of eight (out of 2,000 restaurant owners) to star in a Quaker Oats commercial | Real estate developer Fred Latsko is opening Shanghai Club, an upscale Chinese restaurant at the site of the former Biggs Steakhouse. Latsko, who owns the 1875 building, is partnering with Arun Sampanthavivat, of Arun’s | Nick Van Wassenhove (La Vita, LeLan) is opening chef at the upscale Leonardo’s Ristorante and Tuscan Bistro on the northwest side | When restaurateur Rob Katz opens Landmark later this spring, the new place will surely give patrons something to talk about: a cell phone booth. Katz says the romantically lit, velvet-padded, double-seated, walnut mini-room has been such a hit at his other restaurant, BOKA, that the new booth will have even more bells and whistles.


Women Chefs & Restaurateurs (WCR) will host At the Table: Toasting Women Chefs & Restaurateurs on Monday, March 7, 2005. The evening will celebrate the careers of California’s leading women chefs, and proceeds from the event will benefit WCR’s Scholarship and Internship Program. Some of the participating chefs include Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken of Border Grill and Ciudad; Josie La Balch of Josie’s; Allyson Thurber of The Lobster; and Sherry Yard of Spago, plus Christine Keff of Flying Fish, Seattle, and Nora Pouillon of Nora and Asia Nora (Washington, DC). The event will take place at the Music Box at the Fonda Theater, 6126 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. Wine and Hors d’oeuvres will be served from 5:30-6:00 p.m., followed by a 5-course tasting and Cordial Reception. Tickets are $150 and may be purchased online at or by calling toll-free at 877-927-7787 | Fine dining with Las Vegas glitz has arrived near Palm Springs with the launch of two new restaurants from the N9NE Group (Michael Morton and Scott DeGraff) in the $250-million Morongo Casino, Resort and Spa in Cabazon. N9NE Steakhouse is a contemporary American chophouse with a youthful vibe and a dramatic circular Champagne and caviar bar. Consulting executive chef/partner Michael Kornick (mk in Chicago) created the original menu for the flagship N9NE Steakhouse in the Windy City in 2000, as well for the branches at The Palms in Las Vegas and now at Morongo Casino. The second establishment, Belly Italiano, is perched on the 27th floor atop the hotel tower with sweeping views of the desert. Kornick’s menu mixes contemporary Italian fare with such classics as chicken parmigiano. Executive chef Michael Shrader (ex-Brasserie Jo) oversees both kitchens | Javier’s Cantina & Grill in Laguna Beach has been the place to go for authentic Baja-style seafood since Javier Sosa (ex-Tortilla Flats) opened it in 1995. His wife, two sons, and daughter all work in the bustling restaurant. Javier’s has now gone upmarket with a new branch in the tony Irvine Spectrum. The decor of the much bigger space has the feel of a Spanish castle with two outdoor patios. The menu remains intact | Down the freeway a bit, Ozumo (a branch of the highly regarded Japanese restaurant in San Francisco) has debuted in Fashion Island in Newport Beach. Features include a sushi bar, robata grill, and a sake lounge all under the direction of executive chef/partner Shotaro Kamio | Venice Cantina is located in the old St. Marks Hotel building (circa 1906), steps from the beach. The restaurant is the latest from the busy partners of SGM (Paladar and Tengu). Executive chef Jason Cline (Paladar) serves healthy Mexican fare with a contemporary twist, specializing in rotisserie-roasted meats. The team is so serious about their libations, they’ve even hired a Tequila sommelier | The Wilshire, which is serving American comfort food with organic products from local producers, has filled the void in the Santa Monica space that housed the beloved Knoll’s Black Forest Inn for 23 years. Executive chef Chris Blobaum (ex-Surf & Sand Resort in Orange County) is working from a new kitchen in the extensively remodeled property | Also newly arrived in Santa Monica is Yu on Montana Avenue at the site of the departed Wolfgang Puck Café. The food from executive chef Andrew DeGroot (ex-Hotel Casa del Mar) is Asian fusion with a mélange of Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, and Thai flavors | Shallom Berkman was already a pioneer in roasting organic coffee when he and his wife, Jilla, opened their first Urth Caffe in West Hollywood in 1995. Demand for their premium organic coffees, teas, food, and decadent desserts drove the opening of a Beverly Hills branch in late 2003. It was such a success that they created an in-house bakery there to produce all the desserts and baked goods for both restaurants. Urth Caffe has expanded yet again, with the launch of the largest cafe to date on Main Street in Santa Monica | As part of the ongoing, much-needed multi-million dollar renovation to The Beverly Hilton hotel, new proprietor Beny Alagem of Oasis West Realty LLC, has relaunched the extensive food and beverage operation there. Executive chef Katsuo Sugiura has moved over from The Beverly Hills Hotel | The previously reported opening of Ortolan was delayed because of extensive renovations. Executive chef/owner Christophe Eme (ex-L’Orangerie) is now happily welcoming guests to his new French cuisine restaurant on West Third Street.


Short of flying down to Central America, the food of this region was underrepresented until Fiesta Latina came on the scene. Located on Airline Drive near the airport and owned by three siblings from San Salvador (Ana Ruth, Delmy, and Daniel Cruz), the restaurant features pupusas, plaintains, pollo asado, and magnificent flans. Word on the street has it that many airport-bound travelers are flying high with Fiesta Latina to-go| Chef Daniel Esses (formerly of Peristyle) and Alex Kelly have opened Bank Cafe, featuring contemporary Louisiana cuisine in the Faubourg Marigny. Pastry chef Michael Law is also on board | Flaming Torch has opened uptown in the site of a former flower shop, owned by Hassan Khaleghi (The Moonlight Cafe on Sophie Wright Place). He has brought chef Peter Chan, who recently arrived from the Caribbean | Replacing Neal Swidler as chef de cuisine at NOLA is Michael Ruoss, who also worked at Emeril’s for a short time | Austin Leslie has left Jacques-Imo’s after many years. A fixture in the kitchen with his white captain’s hat, he is now the head chef at Pampy’s Creole Kitchen on North Broad Street | Barbeque Cajun-style has arrived big time in the heart of the French Quarter with Zydeque Cajun Barbeque. This second restaurant by the team that started GW Fins (Tenney Flynn and Gary Wollerman) focuses on seasoned, slow-smoked meats including ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and sausages.


"Vision of Palate" is a tasting workshop geared towards helping those with visual disabilities further develop and appreciate their sense of taste, smell and touch. The workshop is free and donations will go to The Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library and to cure youth with visual disabilities in India through Save the Children Organization. Workshops start March 15, 2005. For info call Vikas Khanna at 1-866-543-2781 | Come to "Cooking for Life" and help raise money for UNICEF and Save the Children to benefit Tsunami victims. The event will be held on Feburary 2, 2005 from 7-10pm at Tribecca Rooftop (2 Desbrosses St). A partial list of participating restaurants includes: Café Gray, Alain Ducasse, Chanterelle, Cru, devi, Nobu, Payard, Vong, and Bouley. Tickets are $50 in advance or $60 at the door. For more info go to | On February 9th, 2005, Action Against Hunger and various New York City Restaurants are sponsoring a one-day event to promote the Restaurants Against Hunger Tsunami Fund. Participating restaurants will donate a percentage of their sales to support disaster relief efforts and the rebuilding of lives through the international aid organization, Action Against Hunger. Everyone can participate! Please get your neighborhood restaurants to sponsor this special relief event, and make a point to dine out on Wednesday, February 9, 2005. For more information, please visit or call (212) 967-7800 x 103 | Twinkies for grownups is just one of the treats for sale at the newly opened Fluff, in Hell’s Kitchen. At his bakery/cafe, owner John Dempsey provides an assortment of retro kiddie desserts, including Snowballs, Mallomars, and cupcakes, as well as tarts and cakes, all made with high-end ingredients. Sandwiches are available for lunch | For more sophisticated sweets, head to the Upper East Side to the diminutive but elegant Lady M Confections. The Japanese pastry company was already selling its wares through upscale retailers, but the cafe/store is a lovely spot for a taste of Lady M’s signature mille crêpe, its fruit tarts, and other French pastries | Claude Troisgros, the scion of the legendary Troisgros culinary family and the chef behind such well-received restaurants as Blue Door in Miami Beach and the late CT in New York, has returned to his old neighborhood. The space formerly occupied by CT was later taken over by Rocco DiSpirito and became Union Pacific. DiSpirito’s second, much-publicized effort was the short-lived Rocco’s on 22nd. In a twist of fate, Rocco’s has been revitalized by Troisgros and the turbo-charged restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow into Caviar & Banana Brasserio. The menu features Troisgros’ signature mix of Brazilian and French influences. The executive chef is Bobby Varua, as Troisgros will be commuting between Caviar and his eateries in Rio de Janeiro | After 10 years, Circus, a Brazilian restaurant in Midtown, has relocated a few blocks from its original address | When you’re jonesing for comfort food, look no further than Jones in Greenwich Village. Owner Jay Plumeri’s first venture was Plumeri in Tribeca. His new digs are equally comfy. The menu features great burgers and an even better mac, cheese, and vegetable potpie, as well as the classic iceberg and Roquefort wedge | Popcorn fanatics take note: the two Popcorn, Indiana retailers in the city have changed the name of their company to Dale & Thomas Popcorn. The concept—gourmet popcorn in enticing flavors—remains the same. The name change is a tribute to the new company partner and president of the New York Knicks, Isiah Thomas, as well as popcorn pooh-bah and resident of the town of Popcorn, Indiana, Dale Humphrey | What a pip! Pippa Calland, the feisty chef who used to cook at Le Madri as well as Luna Park, has a new home. Poetessa is her simple (read understated and delicious) Italian eatery in the East Village. You’ll be waxing poetic, too, after such delicacies as caramelized Nantucket bay scallops with kabocha squash, crushed amaretti cookies, and fried sage | Lucy Mexican Barbecue in the ABC Carpet store has been rechristened. It is now Lucy Latin Kitchen. The new chef is Maximo Tejada, an alum of Patria, Chicama, and Ola. Expect a casual, colorful atmosphere and flavorful cooking | Mauro Mafrici’s long-awaited debut restaurant in Tribeca has opened its doors. Mafrici made his name at such Italian culinary altars as Felidia and, more recently, I Trulli. He’s now made the leap from cooking for others to being the boss. Mafrici’s Lo Scalco is a breathtaking space designed by architect Kimberly Anguil, who is also Mafrici’s business partner and wife. Mafrici’s seasonal, upscale menu focuses on single ingredients, celebrating them with optional tasting menus | Au revoir au vin. Morrells Restaurant, the modern eatery in the Flatiron district owned by Roberta Morrell and partners, has closed. Chef Patricia Williams is moving on. The space is being taken over by Tom Colicchio (Craft and ’Wichcraft), who plans to relocate and expand his nearby Craftbar. The company will maintain Morrell Wine Bar in Rockefeller Center, as well as its wine shop, Morrell & Company | In other wine news, longtime Restaurant Daniel sommelier, Jean-Luc Le Dû, is leaving his post. Le Dû, a James Beard Foundation award winner for wine service, plans to open his own wine shop in Greenwich Village | Name change: The former Avenue restaurant (later 520), is now Nonna. New chef Merrill Moore is bringing diners the kind of rustic Italian fare the Upper West Side neighborhood demands | Notable closings: Ferrier, a French bistro on the Upper East Side, as well as La Metairie in the West Village | Osteria del Circo, the Maccioni family Italian offspring in Midtown, has a new chef. Carlo Apolloni moved from the Las Vegas Le Cirque to Manhattan | Neal Myers is the new executive chef of George O’Neill’s Steakhouse, a Midtown outpost of the Maspeth, Queens, original, which has been run by the O’Neill family since 1933. Myers will continue his affiliation as consulting catering chef for Swifty’s on the Upper East Side | Va Bene! All is well at the Financial district Italian charmer, Va Tutto!, where new executive chef Stefano Bellato and former Gotham Bar and Grill manager, Laurie Tomasino, preside. Bellato was a culinary consultant in Japan and New York, then ran several local kitchens, including Gran Ticino, Pepe Verde, and Capa. His cooking perfectly complements Va Tutto’s rustic atmosphere.


The Smoked Joint: A Barbeque Experience has opened at The Academy House, serving many of its fully stuffed sandwiches in pita to better catch the inevitable drips. The smokemaster is Michael DiTomasso, the chef and co-owner is Keith Gertler, whose brother Adam, works alongside him in the kitchen | Athmane Kabir, who owns La Boheme, has opened Le Jardin, a bistro-influenced reincarnation of the expansive restaurant space at The Art Alliance. Kabir is also the executive chef | The Butcher’s Cafe has re-opened with an eclectic, full-service menu and a lively brunch scene just across from the already energetic Sabrina’s Cafe, making the Italian Market corner nearly impassable on Sundays at noon.


James Street Tavern, a prime North Side venue for live jazz and Cajun cuisine, has closed. Chef Daniel Bartow, owner of nearby Legends of the North Shore, a Neapolitan eatery, will re-open the restaurant as James Street Legends, serving Continental Creole/American food. Expect the live music to continue | Chuck Kerber (ex-Square Cafe) is executive chef of a new high-end bistro, The Map Room, in Regent Square | Susie Treon, founder and executive chef of The Cafe at the Frick Art & Historical Center, Point Breeze, has retired | Carl Bertka has arrived as pastry chef for restaurants at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa in Farmington | Restaurateur and roofing mogul Ed Dunlap (owner of LeMont and The Colony) has opened a restaurant called Cafe Euro in the U.S. Steel Tower space vacated by Nick & Tony’s Chophouse. Much of the upscale fare will reflect his wife’s Sicilian family recipes. Meanwhile, Steve Zimmermann (ex-Hot Metal Grille) took over as executive chef of The Colony, in Scott Township.


Cafe Seville has closed its Carlsbad location. The property was too small to accommodate the dancing that has become a hallmark of the restaurant | Kris Wold has opened Sonoma Valley Market in the Village Faire Shopping Center in Carlsbad. The first gourmet market in North County, the venue will carry specialty cakes from Karen Krasne’s Extraordinary Desserts and spices created by Marine Room chef Bernard Guillas | Downtown San Diego’s Laurel has been sold. Long known as San Diego’s most sophisticated dining destination, the restaurant had lost its luster in the last few years. Renowned restaurateur Tracy Borkum, owner of Chive in the Gaslamp and the Kensington Grill, has purchased the property.


Chef/co-owner John Howie of Seastar has now opened Sport, an upscale sports bar restaurant located in Fisher Plaza. Howie has introduced a bar-food menu that focuses on his signature flavor profiles and kid-friendly fare. Sports memorabilia exhibits, large booths, and high-tech comfort welcome local sports stars and their fans | 727 Pine in Seattle’s Grand Hyatt closed but was quickly replaced with a Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Co-owners Steve and Anne Queyrouze decided to move their existing operation uptown and have brought along chef Will Anderson and general manager Rik Jenkins from their Bellevue restaurant | Chef/co-owner Jason Wilson will be opening Crush on Valentine’s Day in the Madison Valley district. Chef Wilson, who comes from Stars, Flying Saucer, and Aqua in San Francisco (as well as Stars Singapore and Stars Seattle) will be running the restaurant with wife and partner, Nicole Wilson | Restaurateur Tom Douglas and wife/business partner Jackie Cross (Dahlia Lounge, Etta’s, Lola’s) have opened Palace Ballroom, a private function facility across from their Palace Kitchen restaurant | New American cuisine with classic favorites will be on the menu of Hi-Life, the newest neighborhood concept of Chow Foods owners Jeremy Hardy and Peter Levy. The restaurant is housed in an historic firehouse in the Ballard area | Beloved restaurant owner Doris Nelson, of the Alki Homestead Restaurant in the West Seattle district, passed away after delighting her patrons for 44 years.


The French restaurant Beige in Tokyo by Alain Ducasse, located in the newly built Chanel Building in Ginza, has opened | After many years at Nihombashi tempura establishment Mikawa, Takashi Nakagawa has opened a namesake restaurant near Tsukiji. Tempura Nakagawa has just eight seats at the counter and two tables | Ginza’s Le Toyoda has moved and re-opened with the name Ginza Toyoda, a kappo restaurant that pairs wine with seasonal Japanese food. The chef is Keiichi Okamoto from Roppongi restaurant Yama-no-I | Yoshiaki Oda, owner of Daikon-ya in Daikanyama, has opened a kaiseki restaurant in Omotesando, with a relaxing cream-and-chocolate interior and the somewhat unlikely sounding name Mama-an. Takenobu Maeda is the chef.


Two alums of Roberto Donna’s restaurants are ready to graduate and open their own ristorante. Amici Miei Ristorante, which means “Restaurant for My Friends,” has opened in the Old Hickory Grill site at Rockville’s Potomac Woods Shopping Center. Roberto Deias runs the front of the house; he worked as a waiter at Donna’s Galileo and as a manager at Donna’s Al Tiramisu. Davide Megna, who was recruited by Donna to work as executive chef at Arucola in Chevy Chase, will be cooking | Jeff Gordon (not to be confused with the NASCAR superstar) is back in the restaurant business (OK, Numbers was more of a club…). He’s teaming up with Wilson Chu of China Jade restaurants in northern Virginia to open Bistro Asiatique in Bethesda, where Fairmont Grill used to be | New Orleans native Kevin Scott tested some of his favorite recipes when he owned Etouffée Catering. Now he and his partner, Chef Mario Hernandez, have perfected a menu of Creole and Cajun dishes at their new place, New Orleans Bistro. The Bethesda restaurant is at the former site of Oodles of Noodles. Eventually, they plan to offer the death-defying NOLA specialty—deep-fried turkey—on the regular menu. Now it’s by special order only | Name a child after a relative, name a restaurant after a child. Chloe is named after Haji Hajaligholi’s youngest daughter. The new restaurant was recently “born” in Adams Morgan, near Saki, which he also owns. Chef John Schumacher (formerly executive chef for the Levy Restaurant Group at the MCI Center) is serving modern American cuisine. The second-floor restaurant also includes a lounge and will offer late night dancing | Mauricio Fraga-Rosenfeld, veteran owner/operator of Chi-Cha Lounge, Gua-Rapo, and Gazuza, plans to open Maté in Georgetown near The Ritz-Carlton. The restaurant will have a Latin influence with sushi “rolled” in, and is slated to open in mid-month | Josh Short has been named executive pastry chef for Star Restaurant Group, which includes Zola and Red Sage. Before joining Red Sage he was assistant pastry chef at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Chef Brian Wolken, formerly of Cabanas, is now the executive chef at Butterfield 9 | Jeff Black, owner/operator of Black’s Bar & Kitchen in Bethesda, will include a fresh fish counter with fishmonger at his new Blacksalt on MacArthur Blvd in D.C.’s Palisades.


Venice, California

Chefs Brooke Williamson & Nick Roberts of Amuse have recenly opened Beechwood Restaurant. The menu of sophisticated comfort food ecohes that of Amuse, but the space is altogether different. An expansive, candlelit lounge with sleek upholstered couches in earth tones and dark wood tables sets a zen-like scene. Located at 822 West Washington Blvd. Venice, CA 90292, T: 310.448.8884 F: 310.448.8889.