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   October 2005


Rome on the Charles? Marc Orfaly, chef/owner of the French-inspired Pigalle in the Theater District, is conquering new countries and neighborhoods with the North End opening of Marco Cucina Romana in the former Trattoria à Scalinatella. Matt Abdoo, previously of New York’s Lupa and Pigalle, is chef de cuisine, serving traditional Roman fare with regional Italian influences. Fortunately for all Boston carnivores, Abdoo has brought along the salumi skills he picked up last summer during a meat-curing stint at Il Rossellino in southern Tuscany | The Cerqueira Family, owners of three Portuguese restaurants in Cambridge—two Atasca locations and O Cantinho—has closed the Broadway outpost of Atasca. The friendly staff has moved to O Cantinho, which until recently served lighter cafe fare, but is now a full-service restaurant | Jamaica Plain’s El Oriental de Cuba was destroyed midsummer when an arsonist hit the beloved spot known for Cuban sandwiches, Cuban coffee, and New York Yankee sightings. The fire bombing sent shockwaves through the community and rallied neighbors to action—a candlelight vigil was staged outside the restaurant and local restaurants absorbed its nine employees on short-term hires. At press time, the faithful were planning a party to raise money to help the restaurant and staff. With a combination of insurance money and supplements from the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, owner Nobel Garcia expects to reopen in the coming months.


A no-go after all: The Shanghai Club won’t be opening in the old Biggs Restaurant building as we reported in February. The deal fell through, but Arun Sampanthavivat (Arun’s, Le Lan) is still hoping to open his upscale Chinese eatery somewhere, sometime soon | After what he described as “five fantastic years,” Sandro Gamba reports his resignation as executive chef at NoMi. He’s off for a vacation and to contemplate his next move. Christopher David, who recently served at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, is replacing Gamba | Plainfield, a former farm community outside Chicago, will get a culinary boost when Poozer’s opens in a historic downtown building in November. Conceived as an upscale sandwich and pub destination by chef/owner Christopher Nicosia, the eatery will feature homemade soups, barbecued rib salad (you read that right), and bierock, sweet dough filled with savory fillings like ground beef, cheddar cheese, and cabbage. Nicosia, an Illinois native, has moved back from Arizona where he was chef at Lon’s at the Hermosa in Paradise Valley | Trevor Hoyte has been named executive chef at Dine in the West Loop. Hoyte, who worked at Tru and Caliterra, will be serving hazelnut-crusted skate wing with foie gras sauce, along with classic dishes like beef short ribs.


After providing 15 years of inspired beach dining, Wolfgang Puck and Barbara Lazaroff have closed Granita in Malibu. Executive chef Jennifer Naylor, who has worked with Puck since 1989, had been at the helm since 1997. The restaurant went out in style with a series of celebrations during which previous chefs, including Joseph Manzare (Globe and Zuppa Restaurant) cooked signature dishes from their Granita pasts. Naylor will retain Granita’s busy catering and event-planning business and hopes to keep her culinary team together in a new venture | Yuji Tsunoda and Chaya & Associates popularized Franco-Japanese cuisine in Los Angeles with the now-departed La Petit Chaya back in 1981. But the company’s highly regarded Chaya Brasserie in Los Angeles and Chaya Venice are still going strong. Now for the first time in 15 years, Chaya & Associates has launched a new restaurant—M Cafe de Chaya on Melrose Avenue. The petite, limited-service cafe offers an all-macrobiotic menu using no refined sugar, eggs, or dairy. Veteran corporate executive chef Shigefumi Tachibe and on-site chef de cuisine Lee Gross created the menu of soups, salads, rice bowls, sandwiches, wraps, and sushi. Pastry chef Eric Lechasseur’s creations include macrobiotic truffles that manage to taste miraculously decadent | The Mastro Companies (based in Scottsdale, Arizona) gathered a following in 2001 when they opened the luxe, popular Mastro’s Steakhouse in the heart of Beverly Hills. Now they’ve expanded down the coast to Newport Beach with the high-end Mastro’s Ocean Club Fish House in the Crystal Cove Promenade | Organic Orange County: Avanti Cafe has debuted in Costa Mesa, offering healthful, flavorful dining based on organic produce and ingredients. The venture is a collaboration between partner/executive chef Mark Cleveland, a former personal chef who spent 12 years cooking in Japan, and partner/executive pastry chef Tanya Fuqua (ex-Alex Restaurant in Hollywood). The cafe’s entrées change often, but the organic pumpkin soufflé and luscious seasonal fruit tarts are already favorites | Campanile’s proprietor, Mark Peel, has selected Jamie DeRosa as chef de cuisine. DeRosa was previously with the now-shuttered Central restaurant in the Sunset Millennium complex | For ten years Pinot Hollywood (adjacent to the Sunset Gower Studios complex, home of the original Columbia Pictures in the 1930s) has served the movers and shakers in the entertainment and broadcasting industry. It’s now temporarily closed, but insiders expect a new Joachim Splichal restaurant to launch soon | The major renovation at the Argyle Hotel on the Sunset Strip is still in process, yet there has already been a chef shuffle at its restaurant, the Tower Bar. Now leading the brigade is Piero Morovich, who previously cooked at Ammo in Hollywood. The vibe is more casual and Morovich’s menu is straightforward Cali-Italian.


Tom Wolfe is no stranger to the local restaurant scene. The proud owner of Peristyle in the French Quarter and Wolfe’s of New Orleans at the Lakefront is now opening Wolfe’s in the Warehouse in the Marriott Hotel | After the successes of Gerard’s Bistro and Ralph’s on the Park, chef Gerard Maras has decided to pursue other interests. Chef Haley Gabel of Bacco’s is running the kitchen until a replacement can be found | Vickie Bayley, former owner of Artesia (north of Lake Pontchartrain) has a new project in the works. She plans to open Ohi’s, a Hawaiian bar with appetizers and desserts prepared by Mike Fennelly of Mike’s on the Avenue (and Bayley’s former partner) | Meanwhile, Artesia welcomes new owners, the dynamic husband-and-wife chef team of Allison Vines-Rushing and Slade Rushing, last seen at New York City’s Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar | Woefully, Gautreau’s bids adieu to chef Mathias Wolf. Pegged as one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2004, Wolf has moved on. Look for some immediate changes to the menu as sous-chef Sue Zemanick moves to the top position.


In one of the most anticipated openings of the year, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Perry Street has finally unlocked the door in the West Village. Early buzz is good for the tiny, serene, back-to-basics eatery where the market-driven menu is overseen by chef de cuisine Greg Brainin (ex-Jean Georges, Spice Market) | Michael Cetrulo (owner of Scalini Fedeli) has taken over the former Palio space and opened Palio Bar on the first floor and Piano Due, a dining room upstairs. Look for dishes like veal chop stuffed with truffles, shrimp with white beans, and pappardelle with game sauce | Speaking of upstairs dining, you won’t have to wait as long at the Spotted Pig’s bar for a taste of chef April Bloomfield’s cooking. Owner Ken Friedman is set to open Upstairs at the Spotted Pig, a dining room and cocktail lounge located just above the popular gastropub | Another way to get your lobster roll fix. Steven Yee, Allen Leung, and chef Judy Seto (ex-Mary’s Fish Camp) have opened their much-delayed seafood-focused Tides on the Lower East Side. The menu also features pan-fried softshell crabs with black bean salsa and chipotle aïoli and mussels with fennel cream broth. Hurry over—their 22 seats fill up fast | Meanwhile, getting a seat at Nobu just got a lot easier. Nobu 57, the midtown offshoot of Nobu Matsuhisa’s famed eatery, has finally opened at 40 West 57th Street—with room for 200 patrons | Front-of-the-house folks go solo. Former servers Robert Vuotto and Samir Jahdadic (ex-Max, In Vino) have opened Naima in Chelsea. Vuotto’s father, Paolo Vuotto, is executive chef and has created a menu of traditional dishes from Capri and Campania | Peter Luger alums spawn yet another spin-off. Three former Luger’s waiters (brothers Jack Sinanaj and Russ Sinanaj and their cousin Ben Sinanaj) have opened Ben & Jack’s Steak House on East 44th Street, serving steakhouse staples and decadent desserts | Dija Amer and Greta Dana (ex-Angelika Kitchen) have opened Taco Chulo in Williamsburg, featuring traditional Mexican dishes as well as some regional American interpretations made with housemade tortillas and Niman Ranch meats | And while Brooklyn catches up with Manhattan’s taco mania, Queens catches on to the ’cue craze. Smokey’s 11101 opened in Long Island City in the spot where the original Pearson’s served its first ribs | Over in Park Slope, you can now get chef Michael Fiore’s cooking to go. Tempo, the popular Fifth Avenue Mediterranean eatery, has spawned Tempo Presto, a small sandwich shop with a menu of muffuletta, Moroccan hot dogs, and homemade gelatos and sorbets | Also in Brooklyn, Little Bistro has arrived in Cobble Hill. Chef Chris Cheung (Jean Georges, Nobu) has created a menu of upscale comfort food featuring dishes like lobster pot pie and sweet and sour baby back ribs | A sure sign that the Atkins era has drawn to a close—former lawyer Steve Elliott has opened West Village eatery Puff & Pao, a specialty bakery featuring fresh cream puffs and paos (short for paolitos), crispy stuffed cheese breads that are a popular Brazilian street food | And as our waistlines expand, so does Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. The company announced its latest venture, Hudson Yards Catering, located in the space that was once The Tunnel nightclub. The chef will be Kerry Heffernan, who will turn over his Eleven Madison Park toque to an as yet unnamed successor | Chef Carlo Apollini has left Osteria del Circo, the more casual offspring of Sirio Maccioni’s Le Cirque, to return to Sicily. The new chef, Patrick Nuti, was previously at the Lower East Side’s Petrosino | In a much-hyped shake up, chef Angelo Sosa has vacated his post at Yumcha, the eclectic Chinese eatery in the West Village. At press time owner Quentin Dante had appointed Ten Vong (Guastavino’s, Mercer Kitchen) to replace Sosa | After three chefs and a recent name change, Francesco at Mix—the collaboration between Jeffrey Chodorow and Alain Ducasse—has closed. Chef number three, Francesco Berardinelli, will continue working with Ducasse | But take heart, not all closings are final. Landmark Tower, the classic Irish pub that opened in 1868 and closed last summer, has reopened under new owner Michael Younge, who also owns the Irish restaurant Druids in Hell’s Kitchen. Australia-born chef Bryce Cole has revived the eatery with his menu of contemporary pub food like Scotch eggs, shepherd’s pie, and Irish soda bread | Something to look forward to: rumor has it that three Michelin-starred chef Joël Robuchon will be teaming up with New York’s Four Seasons Hotel to create a NYC outpost of the chef’s popular tapas-style Parisian eatery, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. But don’t get too excited—Robuchon isn’t slated to land in New York until next spring.


Restaurateur Clint Pohl opened Halo Cafe in the former Cleaves Temple church on the South Side. In the glow of restored stained-glass windows, executive chef Chet Garland serves a small-plates menu of New California cuisine fused with traditional Southern staples, like grits and pork belly. Jennie Robie is the sous-chef | Douglas Noxon replaces Vincent Smith as executive chef of Pandolfo’s Cafe at Nevillewood | Patrick MacFarlane (ex-Tribeca Grill and Heartbeat in New York) takes the reins as chef de cuisine at Plate 736 in Shadyside. The restaurant/lounge showcases contemporary food and original art work | Chef and restaurateur Matt Mantini, a competitive rib cook-off veteran, has opened Mantini’s Woodfired, a South Side restaurant serving haute barbecue | Nick and Sandy Ambeliotis, owners of artisan bread bakery Mediterra Bakehouse, have opened Mediterra Cafe & Market in the Strip District | Chef and restaurateur Chris Frangiadis has closed Simply French and moved to St. Thomas to open a restaurant | Big Burrito Restaurant Group news: After a one-year hiatus, executive chef Jamie Achmoody returned to Soba, replacing Kevin Sousa. Alan Peet (ex-sous-chef at Susana Foo in Philadelphia) is now Soba’s sous-chef. Romina Piexoto takes over as pastry chef at Eleven Contemporary Kitchen in the Strip District.


Jeff Rossman, chef/owner of downtown’s Terra, is the new president of Chef’s Celebration, a local chef and restaurant group that raises scholarship dollars for local chefs wanting to advance their careers through formal education | Sami Antoine Afif is the new food and beverage director at the Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa | Patrick Ponsaty, who arrived on the San Diego scene with Jean-Michel Diot of Tapenade in La Jolla, has opened La Bastide in Scripps Ranch with a country French menu. Ponsaty was previously chef de cuisine at El Bizcocho at the Rancho Bernardo Inn | Confidential Restaurant and Loft has opened on 4th Avenue in the Gaslamp. Chef Chris Walsh (ex-Cafe W) has created a small-plates menu | A.J. Voytko is the new executive chef at the W Hotel. Voytko began his career under Trey Foshee at George’s at the Cove and later became the chef at downtown’s popular Chive.


In a town known for its neighborhood loyalists, changes don’t go unnoticed. In September Kabuto, the tiny, but well-received sushi restaurant in the Richmond District got a new owner. But fans need not worry: chef Sachio Kojima is staying on—and so, we hope, is his foie gras sushi | Jean-Baptiste Lorda sold the 14-year-old SoMa favorite Fringale to long-time server Jean-Marie Legendre, who will keep most of the signature French bistro menu and slowly expand the repertoire | The two-year-old Cinq in Corte Madera has closed. Chef/owner Jen Koide moved back to Washington, D.C. | Meanwhile, the hugely popular Mission District is buzzing with new openings. First, there’s Maverick American Eatery & Wine Bar, a cozy space serving new American food from both coasts, including Baltimore crab and wild Columbia River sturgeon. Craig and Annie Stoll, chef and owners of Delfina, finally opened their long-awaited Pizzeria Delfina next to their perpetually packed restaurant. The minimalist space specializes in takeout and offers thin, wood-fired pizzas with simple fresh ingredients. Don’t miss the one with clams. And for everyone who is missing Timo’s, the party-time tapas restaurant, you can now visit Range, which serves contemporary and seasonal cuisine in the old Timo’s spot | Another area surging with new restaurants is Berkeley, especially near Dwight Way. Haig and Cindy Krikorian, owners of Lalime’s in North Berkeley and Fonda in Albany, have opened Sea Salt in the former Cafe Talulah space. It’s a stylish seafood restaurant serving treasures like grilled local sardines and crisp fish and chips | And finally, north of the bay in Larkspur, after first debuting the pizza part of the equation, the full-service Picco opened in the space that was the raw-food temple Roxanne’s. Must-tries include raw salmon with cucumber and mini burgers with truffle cheese.


Due to lease problems, managing owner Kamyar Khoshdel has closed the doors of Vivanda Ristorante, his four-year-old Pike Place Market restaurant where Peter Levine (a former apprentice to the late Jean-Louis Palladin) was executive chef | Theodora van den Beld closed Yakima Grill, her seven-year-old Latin restaurant in the Vance Hotel. Gone is the hot and cold tapas bar imported from Barcelona, and in comes the redesigned Hotel Max. Aspen Hotel Group will fill the restaurant space with Red Fin, a 100-seat Japanese robatayaki-style restaurant and bar. The chef/owner is Jun Hong, who is also a partner in Belltown’s Wasabi Bistro and Pioneer Square’s Bonzai Bistro | Tom Black has left newly rebuilt Alderbrook Resort & Spa and the MTM Management Group. Tom first received attention for his award-winning work at the Barking Frog at the Willows Lodge in Woodinville | After a one-year hiatus, during which he cooked at Tom Douglas’s Lola in the Hotel Andre, Dan Braun returned to Carmelita, in the Greenwood district | Chef Cindy Norton, a newcomer to the region, opened 94 Stewart in the Pike Place Market, featuring fresh seafood and locally grown meats and produce | To celebrate the 55th anniversary of the family-owned Canlis, Chris and Alice Canlis launched an extensive refurbishment and reopened with a gala party. Their son Mark, the third-generation Canlis in the business, is now the general manager | Veteran restaurateur Yasuko Akamine came out of retirement to open Kaede Kissa, a traditional Japanese cafe located in the old Bellevue area. The menu includes sashimi dishes as well as Japanese country cooking, and the restaurant features game tables, karaoke, and a full selection of herbal health teas.


Restaurant Associates Managed Services (RAMS) recently named Jose Urrutia chef at the Roof Terrace Restaurant & Bar at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Chef Urrutia initially joined the venue in November 2004 as chef de cuisine | Eric Cousin is the new executive chef at Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington | Also in Arlington, Tracy O’Grady and Kate Jansen have opened Willow, which offers new interpretations of French and northern Italian cuisine in a 150-seat space that echoes a “Vienna Workshop” style. O’Grady, who was the executive chef at Kinkead’s in Washington, D.C., will head up the kitchen. Pastry chef Jansen, who co-founded Firehook Bakery, is creating wonderfully decadent desserts and world-class breads.


Flemington, New Jersey

The South Branch Watershed Association will hold its sixth annual wine tasting benefit on Sunday, October 9, 2005 from 2 to 5 pm at the historic Old Egg Auction Building at 84 Park Avenue, Flemington, New Jersey. Twenty five wine distributors will offer wine from around the world, and hors d'oeuvres will be provided by Jake's restaurant. A silent auction will be held, including gifts such as jewelry, a private catered dinner, and large bottles of wine. For more information about the event and the raffle contact the Association at 908-782-0422 ext. 10 or