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   March 2005


Say Grace 17.20. The latest fine dining in Norcross is in the Forum shops at Peachtree Corners. Grace 17.20 serves contemporary American cuisine made from fresh, seasonal ingredients by chef Charles Schwab (ex-Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach, and Bacchanalia) and sous-chef John Leichty (from Horseradish Grill). The managing partner is CIA-trained Barbara DiJames (formerly of Blue Ridge Grill and Sia’s). The interior is all-French, with stone floors from Provence and imported chandeliers for a wine-country feel. Dinner entrées range from sautéed diver scallops with sweet corn–poblano relish to grilled pork chop with collard greens and caramelized peaches | Near Grace, in Duluth, comes the latest concept from CentraArchy (New York Prime, Tavern, Joey D’s, etc.). California Dreaming serves American continental cuisine in a casual, fine-dining atmosphere that features 36-foot ceilings, oak and cedar paneling, and an open kitchen. (Another California Dreaming is already open in Augusta.) Specialty menu items include fried crab claws, and the cheesecake comes straight from the Carnegie Deli in New York City | In Cobb County, restaurant designer Mike Fusco has opened a namesake southern Italian restaurant, Fusco’s via Roma, in a historic building at 4815 South Main Street in Acworth, formerly Eaton’s department store. The executive chef is Fusco’s brother David from Savannah, who prepares red-sauce fare based on third-generation family recipes from Calabria, Italy. The decor features a hand-built bar by a local craftsman | Here to Serve Restaurants (Shout, Twist, Prime, and Goldfish) is planning a fast-fresh concept called Peri Peri Chicken, named for the South African pepper. Located near the relatively new Shout in midtown’s Colony Square, the 4,000-square-foot restaurant will offer marinated, roasted, and grilled chicken to take out or eat in | Fifth Group Restaurants (La Tavola Trattoria, The Food Studio, Sala) has named Timothy Magee executive chef at South City Kitchen. Magee began his Fifth Group career at South City Kitchen before moving on to La Tavola Trattoria for two years. Before that, he’d cooked in Florida and at the Charleston Grille in Charleston, South Carolina, under chef Bob Wagonner. (Thank Buckhead Life for bringing him back to Atlanta to work at the Buckhead Diner.) Magee’s new menu items include pork osso buco with housemade duck sausage, and cassoulet made from smoked duck confit and white beans | Ever since graduate school, Don Monaco had dreamed of operating an upscale regional Italian restaurant. After 20 years in the corporate world, he has opened Trattoria Monaco at 5530 Windward Parkway in Alpharetta. Executive chef Chad Scott and chef de cuisine Jordan Lloyd make olive-crusted big-eye tuna and veal scaloppini, among other dishes. The sleek interior features light and dark woods and contemporary accents.


Boston’s beloved chef Jacky Robert is opening Petit Robert Bistro this spring. The bi-level restaurant will serve an "express" lunch menu weekdays on its lower level, plus classic treats from the pastry bar. The upper level will serve candlelit dinner nightly by reservation. This summer, a street-side patio will allow guests to dine outdoors. 468 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115. Call 617-375-0699 | The whole city mourned last year when the beloved Maison Robert closed. Now devotees of the elegant eatery have turned their frowns upside down with the opening of Pierrot, a French bistro on Beacon Hill owned by Maison Robert veteran Pierre Sosnitsky. Jacky Robert is helping with the start-up as consulting chef. Pierrot serves traditional bistro fare, such as escargot or duck confit with red cabbage | Master of Wine Sandy Block has joined Legal Sea Foods as vice president of beverage operations. Block is one of only 20 Masters of Wine in the country, of 240 in the world. His hire coincides with the opening of Legal’s new wine cellar in its Park Square location, which holds 11,000 bottles | With a stint in Florence, Italy, under his belt, new chef de cuisine Adam Halberg is enhancing the authentic Italian experience at Via Matta. Halberg, most recently of Caffe Umbra, replaces Luis Morales, who is taking time off to explore opening his own place | Something fishy is going on in that bastion of Italian American tradition, Boston’s North End. Jeff Nace, former beverage manager at Olives, has opened Neptune Oyster, an Italian raw bar. Nace is focusing on New England and regional Italian seafood, like lobster rolls and cioppino | Despite a major renovation in 2002, and rave reviews by critics, the dining room at the “old” Ritz (on Arlington Street, as opposed to the “new” Boston Common Ritz on Avery Street) has shuttered its doors. The 80-year-old dining room had long served as the special occasion destination for Bostonians, but waning business forced the closure. Chef Tony Esnault, whose culinary prowess has drawn so much attention, will stay on as head of catering | Even though it was not a fine-dining Mecca, Harvard Square’s Cafe Pamplona was an undeniable fixture in the local food scene—an unpretentious hub where hungry intellectuals could sip Spanish coffee and slurp garlic soup. But they will slurp no longer. Josefina Yanguas, the eighty-eight year old owner, closed shop in January after 50 years behind the counter. On the closing night, in true Cambridge fashion, people of all ages stopped by for one last visit to read poems, tell stories, and reminisce.


Chris Perry’s group of restaurants welcomes Magnus Hansson. He is collaborating on new menu items at all of the Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille and Perry’s Italian Grille locations, as well as overseeing Perry’s wine dinners. Hansson, a native of Sweden, earned a Michelin star for his work at the Place, a restaurant in Gothenburg, Sweden | Pamela Manovich is back in Houston and once again creating pastry magic at Prego. Manovich divides her time between her hometown of Houston and Cody, Wyoming. In the summers, she is executive chef at the dude ranch Double Diamond X, near Yellowstone Park | Christophe Paul e-mailed us to say that his Cafe Rabelais has moved. When the landlord decided to tear down the old building, he offered to relocate the tiny French bistro to 2442 Times Boulevard, where the Fusion Cafe once was. The new, roomier space has a bar to accommodate customers waiting for a table. Until the last wall comes down, Paul and his wife, Laurence, will keep their original location as a wine bar/wine shop called Cafe Rabelais Bar à Vin. Look for the same feel at the new restaurant, where even the paint color is the same | Tony’s, long the epitome of well-heeled Houston dining, closed on New Year’s Eve to relocate. The new restaurant in Greenway Plaza where Maxim’s once stood should be open by this month | Bistro Moderne at the Hotel Derek has a sibling. The more casual Bistro Cafe has debuted within the sleek main restaurant, featuring a customized pewter bar, aged mirrors, and classic dark wood banquettes. The menu includes both tuna and steak tartare, as well as stuffed mussels and hand-cut frites | On the drawing board: Vincent and Mary Mandola (together with their daughters as partners) are opening a new quick, casual restaurant called Pronto Cucinino. It will be located in a large building now under construction at 1401 Montrose. The menu features favorites from Vincent’s and Nino’s, including the popular roasted chicken. You can dine in, take out, or call ahead and have your food brought out to your car | Further south on Montrose, the River Cafe, once one of the hippest bars in Houston, will be torn down to make way for a new 13-story condo called the Riparian, which will house a two-story restaurant on the ground floor that will provide room service | The Benihana Group is bringing a second concept to Houston, probably this summer. RA Sushi Bar Restaurant will go into a new building in Highland Village, near the old Grotto location. The restaurant will be going after a younger, hipper crowd with fusion dishes and a rock ’n’ roll attitude | Chef/restaurateur Anita Jaisinghani tells us that her Indika is relocating to the Montrose/Westheimer area. The new spot is scheduled to debut this fall.


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 | The much-anticipated Providence, featuring seafood-focused cuisine, is scheduled to launch this month in the original Patina space in Hollywood. The co-owner/executive chef is Michael Cimarusti, longtime exec at downtown’s Water Grill. Joining him in the venture is respected front of house veteran Donato Poto, who moves over from Bastide. Cimarusti and Poto have collaborated on the deep wine list. The interior has been refreshed with striking marine-themed wall installations | Scooter Kanfer-Cartmill, the chef with a touch of whimsy, is back in the kitchen with Naya Restaurant Moderne in Old Town Pasadena, where she is also a partner. Scooter closed the House (her first entrepreneurial venture) in Hollywood last year. The new venture’s menu is progressive American cuisine and changes seasonally, with ingredients from local farmers and purveyors. Partner Thierry Perez (ex-Daniel) is both general manager and sommelier | The Restaurant at Hotel Bel-Air has just reopened after a major three-week renovation. The $500,000 project adds Italian hand-blown glass chandeliers and a more casual feel to one of L.A.’s most romantic settings. Executive chef Douglas Dodd’s California cuisine with French accents remains in place | Geisha House, a modern Japanese restaurant in Hollywood, is the latest from the Dolce Group (Dolce Enoteca) and new partner Adolfo Suaya (founder of the Gaucho Grill restaurants). The executive chef is Genichi Mizoguchi, formerly of Megu in New York City’s TriBeCa neighborhood. His menu offers hand rolls, sushi and sashimi, tempura, and robata-yaki, as well as hot and cold dishes. The two-level interior feels like an energetic Tokyo nightspot, and includes a distinctive sake lounge | After 14 months as executive chef, Enrico Glaudo (ex-Primi) has purchased Frascati Ristorante & Bar in Redondo Beach from its restaurateur founders. Glaudo also now assumes the general manager duties, and the interior has been freshened to create a brighter look | Proprietor Tim Goodell of Domaine Restaurants has passed the culinary reins of his flagship restaurant Aubergine in Newport Beach to Joseph Centeno (ex-Manresa in Los Gatos.) Expect more global ingredient combinations | Alan Ashkinaze (ex-Trevisio in Houston) is now filleting the fresh fish at Aqua, part of the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point. Earlier in his career, Ashkinaze served an apprenticeship with the Aqua Group’s corporate executive chef, Laurent Manrique, in southwestern France. They also previously worked together at Peacock Alley and Gertrude’s, both in Manhattan | The recently opened Ozuma in Fashion Island in Newport Beach has secured the services of Katsuo Nagasawa (the opening and long-standing exec at Café del Rey) as executive chef. Filling out the culinary team is sous-chef Tony Zervas, formerly the chef de cuisine at Accents restaurant at the Sutton Place Hotel | In other Sutton Place Hotel news, the greatly admired Dominique Briaire has departed as top toque after 18 years. He now leads the culinary brigade at the exclusive, very private Shady Canyon Golf Club in nearby Irvine | The youthful Citrine Restaurant in West Hollywood has changed culinary direction with the hiring of Kevin Meehan, who most recently was the inaugural sous-chef at Bastide. Meehan’s menu includes traditional and modern French fare. His seared foie gras with candied Swiss chard and toasted hazelnuts is already a classic | When the re-energized Le Dome on the Sunset Strip reopened in late 2003, co-founder Eddie Kerkhofs retained a small ownership interest in the revamped enterprise and greeted the new generation of guests at the door as he had for the previous 25 years. Kerkhofs has sold the rest of his piece to his partners, RTDB Restaurant Group. Daniel Flores (ex-ZenZero) has been appointed general manager | Brentwood’s little gem of a neighborhood restaurant, Zax, which served as the launching pad for a couple of youthful chefs including Brooke Williamson (Amuse Cafe), has closed after four years. Owner Chris Schaefer is reportedly looking for a larger space with a full liquor license on the Westside. The existing location will be transformed into yet another Italian restaurant.


Chef Duke LoCicero has a new addition to his very popular Café Giovanni, where the waitstaff sings opera most nights. Belli Baci is a lounge within the restaurant geared to appetizers and aperitifs in a relaxed atmosphere | A changing of the guard was inevitable when chef Stephen Hassinger moved to Canada leaving Cafe Degas chef-less. It was a serendipitous time for Ryan Hughes, who worked at the now defunct Lee Circle Restaurant, and has stepped into Hassinger’s shoes. David Esses, sous-chef at Cafe Degas, also departed to open his own restaurant, the Bank Cafe | Donald Link, chef and co-owner of Herbsaint, has more irons in the fire—literally. He is opening Cochon, a very serious Cajun restaurant that will feature a wood grill for meats and homemade sausages, as well as other dishes rarely seen on his sophisticated Herbsaint menu | Two local guys have restored the Parkway Bakery and are dedicated to preserving it as a haven for the New Orleans po-boy. Jay Nix and John Blancher, who was instrumental in Ye Old College Inn and Mid City Lanes Rock ‘N Bowl, are the powers that be in this commendable endeavor. The New Orleans Po-Boy Preservation Society was established late last year by the Leidenheimer Bakery people | Also new on the scene and causing quite a commotion is the Southern Food & Beverage Museum and its debut exhibit, titled “A Toast of New Orleans.”


"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 | Under new management. Elad Properties has decided to remake the Plaza Hotel into condominiums, retail stores, and a far smaller hotel. As part of the reconfiguration, the development company is not renewing the leases of several of the hotel’s watering holes, most notably One C.P.S., run by the Smith & Wollensky Group and former home to chef Scott Ubert. The Oak Room and the Oyster Bar have closed as well, but the Oak Bar and the Palm Court—where afternoon tea is a New York City ritual—will remain open. Eventually, restaurants are expected to operate within the Plaza again, but they will be under new management | Marcus Samuelsson and Hakan Swahn’s Townhouse Group, which owns the newly relocated Aquavit and Riingo, among others, has taken over the food operations aboard the World Yacht fleet. Dutchess, the first vessel to be refurbished, welcomes aboard chef Sean Fetters, who previously worked in the galley at the Hilton at Short Hills Hotel in New Jersey and at the Water Club in Manhattan | Mario Batali, Joseph Bastianich, and chef David Pasternack—the team behind Esca—have debuted their new project, the casual French Bistro du Vent; the name is a playful reference to the windy conditions west of Times Square. Pasternack’s right-hand man is Lawrence DiJoseph, and together they have created a menu of soul-satisfying, reasonably priced dishes | We’ll just have to amuse ourselves elsewhere. Gerry Hayden, who wowed us with his modern, very approachable cooking (we’ve been fans since Aureole) at Amuse in the Flatiron District, has left, and he’s taking the name with him. Hayden plans to open Amuse in a different location sometime in the future with his partner and wife, pastry chef Claudia Fleming. In the meantime, the space will be transformed this month into Chelsea Oyster Bar and Grill. Owner Steve Tzolis has retained chef de cuisine Bobby Duncan, who has been working under Hayden for some time, to oversee the change | Bar Tonno is bar no mo’. After a few months of serving up creative, mostly raw, Italian-style seafood, owners chef Scott Conant and Chris Cannon have called it quits. (Not to worry, their beloved L’Impero continues to thrive.) The duo will instead focus on their soon-to-be-opened Alto in Midtown. Meanwhile, the former Bar Tonno sous-chef, Kyohei Fukushi, who made his mark at Philadelphia’s Morimoto, will stay on and reopen a more traditional sushi bar. Stay tuned for details | Calling all bocadillo lovers. That’s “sandwich” in Spanish to and mi. Sala One-Nine serves lunch and dinner in the Flatiron District, with menu items such as grilled vegetable bocadillo with romesco sauce, and adobo–pork loin sandwich with melted cheese and piquillo peppers. A Sala sibling in the East Village serves dinner only | For a different kind of sandwich experience, head to Tony Luke’s Old Philly Style Sandwiches. It’s a no-frills Philly export, but you’ll hardly notice the modest surroundings after tasting their crunchy Italian fries, fabulous cheese steak, or knockout garlicky broccoli rabe and warm provolone sandwich (with or without the roast pork) | We’re already big fans of BLT Steak (cheesy popovers! Yum!) so we couldn’t be happier about its offspring—BLT Fish. Chef Laurent Tourondel’s latest endeavor, in the former AZ space in the Flatiron District, is a work in progress. The ground floor, with a casual New England seafood shack vibe, is open. The waitstaff, sporting cheeky t-shirts, slink past the rawbar, while unpolished oak tables provide a nice backdrop to Tourondel’s classic lobster roll with tangy slaw and dark fries; fried oysters and clams; guilt-inducing New England chowder; and an array of simple seafood entrées. The elegant third-floor dining room, with a much more sophisticated fish and seafood menu, will debut shortly | Sandia has opened in the former subterranean Snackbar with an intriguing Latin menu. Don’t miss the watermelon cocktails; the salmon skin, bacon, and queso fresco sushi roll with calamari–lemon aïoli; or the whole fried red snapper with shrimp, yuca, orange, and sweet chili pesto | Sushi East and West. Masatoshi Sugio, aka “Gari,” is the man behind the popular Upper East Side destination, Sushi of Gari. His new outpost across the Park offers the same distinctive style, courtesy of chef/partner Mike Lim, sushi chef Atsuomi Hotta and sous-chef (and blowfish licensee) Masahiro Akaboshi. Signature dishes include lemongrass and lentil miso soup; duckling with balsamic teriyaki and pickled kumquat; and, presumably, blowfish | Meatpacking District newcomer Nero is a lovely, rustic Italian restaurant that replaces the recently shuttered Zitoune. Owners Bobby and Enrico Malta have had some practice with the genre: they also own Sette, Arte Café, and Intermezzo. Chef Camillo Bassani’s cooking reflects an international influence and perhaps the clientele’s preferences. Start off with a warmed burrata—the Pugliese fresh mozzarella and butter bundle—served with prosciutto San Daniele. Then head straight to the sautéed black cod with black truffle sauce.


Cloud Dining Lounge, formerly Savino's Café, has opened in Washington, DC. Restaurateurs Savino Recine and John Tsiaoushis collaborated on the concept of this ethereal, white on white lounge which is open daily, offering an eclectic tapas menu late into the night. One Dupont Circle, NW, Washington, DC 20036. Call 202-872-1122 | The President has a new executive pastry chef. Thaddeus R. Dubois, of the Borgata Hotel & Casino in New Jersey, has been hired to work at the White House, making him the first American-born executive pastry chef since the Kennedy Administration | Mark Miller has opened an upscale Mexican restaurant, Takuba, in Alexandria’s Bradley Shopping Center, where Desert Moon used to be. After his concept is tweaked, the plan is to roll them out nationally, working with franchise development company Fransmart | Chef updates: Martin Saylor, formerly of Butterfield 9, is now executive chef of Juniper in the Fairmont Hotel. Daniel Mullins has been named executive chef at Kimpton properties Bar Rouge, Topaz, and Helix Lounge. A CIA grad, he formerly worked at Carmichael’s in Chicago. Vikram Garg has been named executive chef at IndeBleu on G Street across from the MCI Center. Rodolfo Guzman, formerly from Jaleo Downtown, is now head chef at Jaleo Crystal City. Scott Youden, ex-Red Sage, is now head chef at Oyamel, also in Crystal City. Nathan Anda, formerly of Equinox and Market Salamander, is the chef at Tallula in Arlington, which is owned by the folks who brought you Evening Star in Del Ray, Vermilion in Old Town Alexandria, Clarendon Grill, and Clarendon Ballroom.


Cancun, Mexico

Michelle Bernstein, who was at Azul at the Miami Mandarin Oriental Hotel, has now opened MB in Aqua, a resort in Cancun.

Garden City, NY

Partners Richard Ciullo and Atillio Renny have opened Uncle Bacala’s Restaurant in Garden City, New York, with chef Servando Galeano (ex-Rouge and Steak au Poivre) and consulting chef David Ruggerio (ex-Sushi A-Go-Go and La Caravelle). The menu emphasizes seafood.

Healdsburg, CA

Maître d’ Nick Peyton and chef Douglas Keane, who previously collaborated on Market in St. Helena, are set to open the intimate Cyrus. The restaurant is located within the new boutique hotel, Les Mars Hotel, in downtown Healdsburg and is named for Cyrus Alexander, who discovered the Alexander Valley. Cyrus will offer a luxurious, French-influenced contemporary menu.

Las Vegas

Celebrated seafood chef Rick Moonen has opened rm seafood, joining the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s big-name lineup of destination restaurants. The space offers two dining experiences. Upstairs is restaurant rm. Downstairs is, a modern brasserie.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

There are less than 60 shopping days until The 9th Annual Nantucket Wine Festival, slated this year for May 18 to 22. Situated in the White Elephant Hotel within the heart of downtown, the event attracts world-renowned winemakers, chefs, and celebrities.

Paradise Island, Bahamas

Three of New York City’s top chefs have signed on to open restaurants at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island over the course of the next two years. First up is Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who will recreate Café Martinique (featured in the James Bond movie Thunderball) in British colonial style, courtesy of restaurant designer Adam Tihany. The cafe, to be in Marina Village, will be Vongerichten’s second Caribbean project; he runs the restaurant at the One&Only Ocean Club, also on Paradise Island. By the end of the year, Nobu Matsuhisa is expected to open a branch of Nobu in the Royal Towers; it will replace Five Twins restaurant. Designed by architect David Rockwell, Nobu will feature a lounge, sushi bar, and sake cellar. Rounding out the group is Bobby Flay, who is developing a Mesa Grill in the new, 600-room hotel that the Atlantis plans to open at the end of next year. Flay’s signature Southwestern cuisine will have a Bahamian twist: the |centerpiece of the restaurant is to be a two-story rotisserie.