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   April 2005


Good things come to those who wait. Fans who stand patiently in line at Brookline’s sushi haven Fugakyu now have another place to form a queue. Kawa (which means river in Japanese) opened right above Fugakyu in February under the same ownership. Kawa focuses on French-inspired Japanese cuisine, with dishes like steamed Boston lobster with sweet potato leaf | And now for something completely different: For the last 27 years Icarus’s chef/owner Chris Douglass has been pioneering Boston’s new American cuisine, but this May he will segue into the family-casual dining segment with the Ashmont Grill in up-and-coming Dorchester. Douglass tapped residents of adjacent Ashmont Hill for donations to turn what was a seedy dive bar into an all-purpose bistro with an outdoor patio | Fresh off the success of Umbria in the Financial District this past fall, Frank de Pasquale is expanding yet again, this time back to the North End, home of his ever- popular Bricco. De Pasquale is opening Mare, which will specialize in (you guessed it) fish and seafood | Somerville residents are celebrating the newest O’Naturals, which has just opened in the Davis Square site formerly occupied by Carberry’s Bakery. Featuring quick, natural, and organic sandwiches and salads, O’Naturals is the brainchild of Stonyfield Farm founder Gary Hirshberg. This—the company’s fourth New England location—features free wi-fi and weekly “Community Nights,” where ten percent of the evening’s profits go to a specified nonprofit organization.


All Things Organic Conference will take place in Chicago, Illinois from April 30-May 3, presented by the Organic Trade Association.Morgan Spurlock, of "Super Size Me" fame, and Nina Rothschild Utne, chair and chief executive officer of "Utne" magazine, will be among the speakers. Visit for more information. | Chinn out. Bob Chinn’s Crab House in downtown Chicago is now simply called Crab House. The huge eatery severed its lease agreement with Bob Chinn’s Crab House in Wheeling and is operating as its own restaurant, says general manager Tom Sorfleet | The very expensive interior at the shuttered Spago has been gutted and rebuilt to house Blue Water Grill Chicago. Dirk Flanigan (formerly of Meritage Cafe) is chef at the new establishment, which is operated by B. R. Guest Restaurants | Luca Corazzina (ex-Vivo, Via Emilia) has opened his own restaurant, Figo, in suburban Glen Ellyn. With a little help from his mom, the chef is dishing out some of his earliest recipes, including gnocchi stuffed with fontina | After nearly 40 years, Eli’s, The Place for Steak will soon be homeless. This Chi-town favorite and birthplace of the namesake cheesecake will shut its doors on July 30 to make way for Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s downtown campus expansion project. Eli’s owners are reportedly searching for a new Michigan Avenue home. Eli’s Cheesecake World, located several miles west, will not be affected by the closing | Yet more changes at Les Nomades. As reported in recent issues of Dateline, previous chef/partner Roland Liccioni left to run the kitchen at Le Français, and ex-wife and partner Mary Beth Liccioni hired chefs Charlie McKenna and David Hayden to replace him. But after one month, the two chefs had a “mutually agreeable” parting with Mary Beth, she says. The new top toque is Chris Nugent, previously with Betise in Wilmette | While the original MASCK in suburban Deerfield is closed for remodeling, the newly opened downtown location is thriving. Chef/owner Kevin Nierman provides a something-for-everybody approach, showcasing a range of dishes from his signature “floppy burger” to fine-dining seafood and steaks.


Celebrated pastry chef Nancy Silverton—who launched artisan bread in Los Angeles with the founding of La Brea Bakery in 1989—is embarking on a new, more modest venture. Silverton’s partner in the rustic, casual Italian cafe (with a working moniker of Mozza Bar) is New York–based chef/restaurateur Mario Batali. A mozzarella bar and Italian-style cured meats (salumi) from Armandino’s Salumi in Seattle (owned by Batali’s father, Armandino) will be centerpieces of the still-developing menu. Silverton currently presides as a guest chef over her no-reservations “Mozzarella Monday” menu at the intimate bar at Jar. Additionally, she has recently debuted “The Italian Table,” which she hosts at Gino Angelini’s La Terza restaurant in the Orlando Hotel on Tuesday evenings. She has also sold her ownership interest in Campanile to husband Mark Peel, from whom she is now separated | Team USA took the Bronze Medal at the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie, the biennial international competition held in Lyon, France, that’s known as the genuine “World Cup of Pastry.” Los Angeleno Donald Wressell, the executive pastry chef at Four Seasons Hotel, captained the team. Other members were Derek Poirier, the pastry chef/consultant for Albert Uster Imports, and Andrew Shotts, the proprietor of Garrison Confections. Team chairperson En-Ming Hsu, formerly the pastry chef at the Ritz-Carlton, Chicago, was part of the global judging panel and provided on-site support for the American team | Roy Yamaguchi, one of the originators of Hawaiian fusion cuisine, has returned to Los Angeles with a namesake Roy’s restaurant in Woodland Hills. It’s his first time back in town as proprietor since closing the fondly remembered 385 North in 1988. Executive chef/partner is Tom Voss, who has moved West from Roy’s at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in Phoenix | The culinary duo of Brooke Williamson and Nick Roberts—owners of Amuse Cafe—have launched Beechwood Restaurant in the former Menemsha space on the border of Marina del Rey and Venice. Their partner is David Reiss, the proprietor of the neighborhood tavern The Brig | The Cellar, one of Orange County’s bastions of fine dining since 1969, has been sold by Ernest and Trudy Zingg, who purchased the restaurant in 1985. The new keeper of the Cellar is Ryan Dudley, a former manager at the Five Crowns in Corona del Mar. Chef James McIver remains and oversees the preparation of traditional French cuisine with a few contemporary touches | After 11 years of accolades, there has been a leadership change in the esteemed culinary brigade at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel and the Belvedere restaurant. Bill Bracken has been promoted to the newly created position of executive food and beverage director. Sean Hardy, Bracken’s executive sous-chef since he returned to the property in 2002, has assumed the top culinary post | The Raymond in Pasadena, located in the caretaker’s cottage of a long-departed former estate, has been sold by proprietress Suzanne Bourg. The new owners are real estate investors Rob and Leslie Levy and Garry Weyand, and this is their first restaurant venture. Renee Guilbault (ex-Long Bar in London’s Royal Automobile Club) has returned to her Pasadena roots to create the menu and manage the kitchen | Il Sole on the Sunset Strip quietly reopened under new ownership about a year ago. Now Isaac Rivera is the menu-maker for this popular regional Italian cafe, a favorite of the entertainment industry. Rivera has a long history with Celestino Drago | Mama Rose Restaurant in Costa Mesa, a gem of a neighborhood establishment where husband and wife team of Richard and Elaine Lombardi treated guests as if they were dining at their home, has closed after ten years | Carl Ferraro, the highly visible proprietor of the Dresden Restaurant in Los Feliz for 50 years, has died at age 91. The 1960s-era restaurant was rediscovered by the 30-something set when it appeared in the feature film Swingers in 1996.


Sara Jenkins has left 50 Carmine in the West Village. The peripatetic chef has created buzz at several NYC restaurants with her highly seasonal (and highly addictive) Italian cooking. We just hope she resurfaces soon | Another chef saying arrivederci is Patti Jackson of Le Madri in Chelsea. The venerable Pino Luongo vehicle has closed after 16 years. Apparently, the landlord was anxious to have the space back. In the meantime, Luongo has donned his chef whites for the first time in nearly 20 years to cook at Centolire on the Upper East Side. As for Jackson, she is reclaiming her pastry roots. She will join chef Scott Conant and partner Chris Cannon at their upcoming Midtown seafood venture, Alto | In more Italian news, restaurateur Sheldon “Shelly” Fireman, creator of Trattoria del’Arte and Redeye Grill, among others, recently opened Bond 45 in the Theater District. The cavernous eatery has the look of a well-seasoned trattoria, with an impressively vast menu to match, thanks to chef Brando de Oliviera. De Oliviera was most recently at Café Fiorello, near Lincoln Center | Star chef Todd English—the man behind the Olives and Figs empire—has a second New York dining venture, called English is Italian. The quirky name refers to the restaurant’s (and English’s) culinary heritage. English is Italian is located in the former Tuscan space, still owned by Jeffrey Chodorow. English has dispensed with a traditional menu, opting instead to feed the masses family-style with a prix fixe menu. Expect his signature gargantuan portions | If family-style is your thing, you have another option: Nonna. The Upper West Side eatery features delicious and reasonably priced Italian fare, served family-style on Sunday nights. Sam DeMarco is consulting | Donatella does downtown. David Burke’s partner, Donatella Arpaia, is branching out. She recently opened the diminutive Ama in Soho, a paean to her mother’s native Puglia region with chef Turibio Girardi at the helm | Falai is the new Italian eatery on the Lower East Side. Chef and owner Iacopo Falai, who did a pastry stint at Le Cirque at one point, was most recently cooking his signature vibrant Italian fare at Bread Tribeca. Don’t miss his specialties, such as baby spinach and ricotta ignudi with brown butter and sage, and exceptional desserts like a nontraditional panna cotta with almond foam | Ivy Stark, most recently of Dos Caminos in Manhattan, has taken over the executive chef role at Rosa Mexicano | rm, Rick Moonen’s upscale seafood restaurant on the Upper East Side, has closed. Although Moonen is still a partner in the nearby Branzini, he is focusing his attention on Las Vegas, where he just opened rm Seafood in Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. The multiroom venue features a casual market eatery, Rbarcafe, and the formal Restaurant rm | The inimitable Drew Nieporent is delving into the retail wine business. He recently opened Crush on the Upper East Side with partners Josh Guberman and Bob Schagrin, whose impressive rare wine collection is on display and for sale, along with more pedestrian but no less delicious choices | Where can you get a first-rate shrimp pad thai on the Upper West Side? Land Thai Kitchen, of course. The new small Thai place is owned and run by chef David Bank, who hails from Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Mercer Kitchen. In addition to a great selection of popular Thai dishes, you can also find more elegant fare, such as the succulent Atlantic baked salmon with bean paste, napa cabbage, snow peas, and a caramel soy sauce | Books of Wonder, an excellent children’s book store in the Flatiron District, recently moved into a new space just a few feet from its original location. The updated digs also include a branch of Cupcake Café | Della Rovere has finally opened in TriBeCa. Last year we announced that the restaurant would be opening in the fall with chef Pippa Calland. Well, that time has come and gone, but Calland is happily settled into Poetessa in the East Village. Owners Frank LaRuffia, Sr., and Frank LaRuffia, Jr., instead hired the husband and wife chef team of Roberto and Monica Bellissimo. The menu is modern Italian and makes a conscientious effort to showcase the 100-plus wines by the glass, thanks to the diligence of wine director Aaron von Rock | A miracle grows in Brooklyn. Miracle Grill, that is. The moderately priced Southwestern-influenced restaurant with outposts in the East and West Villages now has a sibling in Park Slope. Expect killer margaritas and outstanding catfish tacos | Xing is the new, sexy Chinese eatery from restaurateur John Dempsey, who also owns Hell’s Kitchen and the charming retro bakery, Fluff (all in Hell’s Kitchen). His consulting chef is Josh Eden, who made a name for himself cooking in the Chinese context at Vongerichten’s 66 in TriBeCa. Smoked tofu spring rolls and lobster with ginger, soy, and scallion are just the beginning | Another Vongerichten alum exploring Chinese tastes is Angelo Sosa, who was most recently cooking at the hot, hot, HOT Spice Market in the Meatpacking District. He’s moved to a much smaller space in the West Village: Yumcha, which is Chinese for “drink tea.” His modern Chinese cooking reflects his refined skills: peekytoe crab salad with soft egg white custard, Shaoxing wine, and ginger juice, and slow-baked Alaskan halibut with preserved black bean and wild mushroom tea, for instance. Quentin Dante and Beijing artist, restaurateur, and tea specialist Jin R are his partners | Not so-so. Zozo’s Juice and Grille is a new, all-day spot on the Lower East Side whose mantra is well-prepared casual street food. There are copious options for orchestrating custom sandwiches, salads, and fruit shakes, thanks to chef Steven Zobel and pastry chef Kyria Zobel, both of Triomphe. Beard Award–winning designers AvroKo created the stunning space, but the real action is on the plate.


Old Original Bookbinder’s, the historic seafood restaurant that closed three years ago, has been brought back to life. Originally opened by Samuel Bookbinder in 1865, the restaurant has been resurrected by John Taxin, whose grandfather purchased it in 1944. Taxin has hired chef David Cunningham, the talented force behind Lenox in New York, and, most recently, Yardley Inn in Pennsylvania.


New unveilings in the Strip District: Crystal, specializing in Greek cuisine; Tasca Navarre, a tapas bar serving 30 rotating options and a selection of sherries; and MediTerra Cafe and Market, operated by artisan bread baker Nick Ambeliotis | Across town in McMurray, restaurateur Vasdilis Kontoulis opened Greek Flavors, a full-service, traditional Greek restaurant. Kontoulis and his wife also own Little Athens, in Sewickley, and Cafe Frappe, in Ambridge | Sonoma Grille, a California wine bistro, debuted in the Cultural District. Yves Carreau, owner of Asiago, is executive chef and co-owner. Managing partner Uriel Marcovitz runs the wine program and front-of-the-house | Under new management, the landmark Harris Grill has re-emerged in Shadyside as a trendy bar and cafe | Alain Pizzutti replaced his Le Perroquet Bistro Français, also in Shadyside, with Pizzutti, serving Northern Italian cuisine. Jeremy Hickey remains executive chef | Changes at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa in Farmington: David Racicot replaced Lewis Cramer as chef de cuisine at Aqueous; Seasons in the spa has closed, yielding to more treatment rooms and a sushi and juice bar; and the resort opened 30 East Main in downtown Uniontown. The high-end, fast-casual eatery serves an American menu | Frank Sacco has closed Piccolo Piccolo, a landmark downtown restaurant founded by his father. He’s tending to his new venture, O’Leary’s, in Oxford Centre | Chef/owner Joseph Mico closed Pino’s Cafe Rustica in Squirrel Hill. His Point Breeze operation, Pino’s Mercato, remains open | Modeled on the neighborhood cafes in Europe, Point Brugge Cafe has opened in Point Breeze.


Larry Banares, popular local television food personality, is the new executive chef at the Hilton Torrey Pines in La Jolla. He replaced Deborah Schneider, who retired to write a book on Baja California food | But it turned out to be a short retirement for Schneider. She has signed on as the new executive chef at the first Kimpton property in San Diego, the Hotel Solamar, set to open this month. Located near the popular new Petco Park, the restaurant will feature a Southwestern twist. Schneider, who is still completing her book, got bored with being at home writing and decided to go back to the hectic life of an executive chef | Jack Fisher, part of the successful trio that included Mike Stebner and Allison Calwell at downtown’s Region, has left. He has joined his old friend Jimmy Boyce at Studio at the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach as pastry supervisor in the Loft restaurant. Fisher is well known in San Diego for his mouthwatering and innovative desserts and housemade artisan cheeses | Wendy Leigh Evarts recently passed away. Evarts and her ex-husband, Brad Evarts, were instrumental in bringing the flavors of the Southwest to San Diego when they opened their restaurant Cilantro’s and later Epazote in Del Mar. Their most recent venture was Cilantro’s by the Sea in Encinitas | Riko Bartolome, chef/owner of Asia-Vous in Escondido, has been named to the advisory board of North County Culinary Academy, which is part of the Palomar College culinary program | The New Leaf restaurant at the Hilton Gaslamp is looking for a new chef again. After a very expensive makeover, executive chef Hanis Cavin has left and gone up the coast to the Pacific Coast Grill in Solana Beach. As of this printing, no replacement had been named. Meanwhile, Tim Sullivan, the previous chef at the Pacific Coast Grill, has moved to the Bernardo Heights Country Club | Bernard Guillas, executive chef at the Marine Room in La Jolla, was named Chef of the Year by Chef magazine.


Though the rush of the holidays are long gone and even the Chinese New Year is, well, not so new anymore, San Francisco Dateline needs to play a little catch-up with what’s been happening in the city’s restaurant scene…In September, Yountville (up in wine country) got a new restaurant. The Wine Garden opened where the popular Diner once was, but instead of greasy-spoon classics, chef Michael Bilger (formerly of the Lodge at Sonoma) offers modern American small plates with local ingredients. Expect to see Hog Island oysters three ways, and macaroni gratin with tasso | After a 19-month renovation, the Cliff House reopened in September with an upscale restaurant and a bistro. A to-go counter is on the way. The food focus will be on local seafood | After years of working for others, Ola Fendert (ex-Chez Papa, Baraka, and Plouf) opened a place of his own in San Francisco’s SoMa District. Oola is an intimate 45-seat place with a long bar and cozy seating | A big September surprise was a new entry in the 2005 Zagat guide’s top ten picks. Zachary’s Chicago Pizza, a beloved pizza place in the East Bay, made number 10, putting its humble deep-dish pie in the company of Chez Panisse, French Laundry, and Gary Danko | In October, Budo opened in Napa. Chef James McDevitt, who came from Restaurant Hapa in Arizona, created an Asian-influenced menu in a country-chic setting. Look for dishes like Spanish mackerel tartare with wasabi roe, or pork belly in a soy–pomegranate sauce | Charles Nob Hill has reopened as C&L Steakhouse. Chef Laurent Manrique, of Aqua restaurant in the Financial District, created a themed steakhouse menu, with regionally inspired dishes from eight different American cities | November brought us a temple of restaurant kitsch with the reopening of Trader Vic’s in the Civic Center area. It lives in the old Stars location and is serving the same favorites that once made it a celebrity haunt. Retro dishes like Calcutta curries and crab Rangoon beg to be washed down with a classic mai tai | Ben de Vries and his wife, Rachel Lewis de Vries, opened their own Mediterranean-influenced restaurant, Luella, in Russian Hill in November. De Vries had cooked at Andalu, LuLu, and the defunct Ristorante Ecco | In December, Jack Falstaff, the new restaurant by the PlumpJack Group, opened near the baseball stadium, with executive chef James Ormsby. The menu is Cal-Mediterranean, including a trio of fish crudo and a rich pot-au-feu with housemade mustard. The PlumpJack group was founded by mayor Gavin Newsom | The Grand Cafe, a French restaurant fashioned after La Coupole in Paris, lost its chef, Paul Arenstam, who is awaiting the opening of a new Chip Conley restaurant, Americano, near the Embarcadero | There must have been a few resolutions among those in the restaurant community, because the first of the year brought several changes. John Beardsley will no longer be cooking at Azie. He is moving on to Sydney’s, the restaurant in the beautiful, new-ish Jewish Community Center. David Rosales of Fonda, the Latin-inspired, small-plates restaurant in Albany, has left and is planning to move to Portland where he hopes to open his own place. Antidote, chef Eric Torralba’s experimental restaurant in Sausalito, closed almost as quickly as it opened. Perhaps test tube soup shots aren’t the cure to what’s ailing us after all.


Ibiza Dinner Club opened in Pioneer Square as an innovative dining and nightclub concept. It features Nuevo Latino cuisine in dramatically lush surroundings. The owner is Abi Eshagi, who spent time in Miami and chose to give the restaurant/club a South Beach flair. Mathew Lederman (ex-Aureole in New York and Four Seasons Chicago) is executive chef | The Mackay Restaurant Group opened the Inn at El Gaucho, an urban luxury hotel above El Gaucho restaurant in the Belltown neighborhood. The $1.2 million dollar renovation of the former rental apartments now includes 18 suites with a retro swank décor theme. Dinner brought up from the restaurant below includes bedside carving of El Gaucho’s chateaubriand for two | Rich Troiani, former managing partner of the upscale Italian steakhouse Troiani, left his namesake restaurant. He was replaced by the proprietor of the Mackay Restaurant Group, Paul Mackay. Twefik Boulenouar, who worked with Mackay at El Gaucho, will lead the service and wine staff | The Westin Seattle is the new home of Coldwater Bar and Grill, a seafood restaurant that took over the vacated Roy’s. Executive chef Marcus Dunbar features local seafood and regional Northwest cuisine. The modern, multilevel space also includes a chilled shellfish bar and a wine list that showcases Washington and Oregon selections | OX Bistro, in the Capitol Hill district, opened in the same space that once housed the très-French Cassis Bistro. Eric Francy and Axel Mac, of Maximilien in the Pike Place Market, will share responsibilities for both restaurants. The atmosphere is neighborhood-casual and the food, traditional French.


New moves: Liam LaCivita is the new executive chef at Centro in Bethesda. Bobby Beard is the new chef at Vermilion in Old Town Alexandria. He had been executive chef at Pesce in Dupont Circle, and has also been a sous-chef for Michel Richard at Citronelle | Italian food will no longer be the focus of Savino’s Lounge in Dupont Circle. Owners Savino Recine and John Tsiaoushis have transformed the space into Cloud Dining Lounge. Pasta is out; tapas are in, representing cultures and cuisines from around the world (to complement Savino’s diverse personal music collection). And if you want to stretch out, the VIP dining area called Cloud 9 features a canopy bed | The partners who bought Mendocino Grille & Wine Bar in Georgetown are expanding into another popular neighborhood—Capitol Hill. Eli Hengst and Jared Rager plan to open Sonoma at the site that formerly housed Barolo Ristorante and Il Radicchio. The pizza and pasta restaurant will feature about 200 California and Italian wines to complement the American and Italian menu. Mendocino’s chef, Drew Trautmann, will be the new chef at Sonoma. Griz Dwight, formerly of Adamstein & Demetriou, designed the space | The Governors House on 17th Street has transformed into the Beacon Hotel, with a new restaurant and chef. Beacon Bar & Grill has Ron Reda, former executive chef of Dish, at the helm. Walter Gagliano (TenPenh, DC Coast, and Ceiba) designed the restaurant. The Beacon Hotel menu features modern American fare with Southwestern and Italian accents | Fairfax-based Guest Services, Inc. (GSI) rolled out a new and welcoming corporate image in March. How do you know that name? The company operates Alexandria’s waterfront standard, the Potowmack Landing restaurant, Pavilion Cafe at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, Café des Artistes at the Corcoran Gallery, Hillwood Museum and Gardens, and facility and resort properties across the country | L.A. restaurateur Errol Lawrence is determined to bring some glamour to the nation’s capital with his new venture, Oya Restaurant & Lounge. Chef Kingsley John (ex-Aquavit, Riingo, and Aer in New York City) will be churning out the world cuisine.


Las Vegas

Chocolate fantasia. The highlight of Bellagio’s new Spa Tower has to be the glass-enclosed, floor-to-ceiling chocolate fountain jutting out from Jean-Philippe Patisserie. The 27-foot-tall fountain (only 14 feet of which is actually visible) is the tallest chocolate fountain in the world. A kinetic sculpture that circulates nearly two tons of melted dark, milk, and white chocolate, the fountain is the brainchild of pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury | Another Big Apple branch comes to Vegas. Carnegie Deli, the venerable New York institution, has just opened at the Mirage. Unlike the dilapidated original, this one was created by star restaurant designer Adam Tihany. The menu retains its namesake’s cheeky vibe, offering dishes like 50 Ways To Love Your Liver, the Egg and Oy!, and Brisketball.


April is National Poetry Month and Now Taste This! is celebrating with 23 poets and 23 Miami area restaurants. Published poets have created poems based upon their experience at a restaurant, and those that order the prix fixe menu during the month of April will be presented with an autographed copy of the poem. Some of the participants include Mosaico Restaurant/Mia Leonin; Cacao Restaurant/Ricardo Pau-LLosa; River Oyster Bar/Michael Hettich; and North 110/Jen Karetnick. A poetry reading and silent auction will take place at the Florida Center for the Literary Arts on April 26. For a full list of restaurants and poets please visit | The Tenth Annual Miami Wine and Food Festival will take place at the InterContinental Miami on Thursday, April 7 through Saturday, April 9. On Friday, April 8, StarChefs Rising Star Govind Armstrong of Table 8 in LA (and soon South Beach, too) will lead guests during an interactive dinner. For tickets and additional information, go to | Aïgo has opened in Clinton Hotel South Beach, featuring food based on ingredients of the Mediterranean diet. Michael Gilligan (ex-RUMI) is executive chef. Food and martini bar service extends from the restaurant’s interior out to the terrace and poolside, where there are tented cabanas.