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   December 2005


It’s theatrical. It’s whimsical. It’s huge. Carnivale is the newest—and largest—addition to restaurateur Jerry Kleiner’s colorful collection of restaurants and nightclubs (Red Light, Marché, and Hotel Victor). Located in the old Drink space, the 35,000-square-foot, bi-level eatery seats 400 and offers Latino flavors inspired by Kleiner’s trips to Brazil and Argentina | After a three-year run, pastry chef Christine McCabe has shuttered Sugar, her downtown dessert bar. The lease was up, but McCabe plans to reopen in a larger, unnamed location in the spring. She still plans to serve such menu favorites as MacDeth by Chocolate and the Marquis de Sucre, a dessert sampler offered on an edible plate | As long as we’re on the subject of sweets, Cupcakes, the city’s first-ever all-cupcake shop, has opened on the North Side, featuring a rotating weekly lineup of 37 varieties that includes chai latte and whiskey-anointed moonshine. Owners are Sarah King, a physicist, and Noah Antieu | Masck is no more. After only a few months and too few customers, the restaurant closed | Having scrapped plans to open a highly anticipated seafood spot in NYC’s Time Warner Center, Charlie Trotter is now concentrating on smaller local operations, like the recent opening of another Trotter’s To Go takeout store, this one in the Loop | Rick Bayless is branching out from home base with the new Frontera Fresco in the food court at Marshall Field’s, where he will be dishing out tortas and quesadillas | Heather Terhune, formerly of the Atwood Cafe, has been named executive chef of the Southwater Kitchen in the Monaco Hotel | Zapatista, a new Mexican eatery, has opened in the former Saiko space in the South Loop. Executive chef Dudley Nieto (ex-Adobo Grill) is serving salmon with salsa, and fajitas in a molcajete | Dirk Flanigan has taken the helm as executive chef of Chef Blue Plate, one of the city’s eminent caterers and event planners. Flanigan was previously inaugural executive chef at Blue Water Grill | It may sound surreal, but Cereality, a growing chain that features cereal, has opened in the Loop. The cafe’s number one seller? “Life Experience,” a blend of Life cereal, bananas, almonds, and honey | With a dramatic décor and a fine-tuned concept, Agami has opened in Uptown on Broadway. Soon Park (Kamehachi, Sushi Wabi, Maru, and Wildfish) is the executive chef, serving old school sushi with new school modifications.


Names by the numbers: As we noted in an earlier Dateline installment, the Sam Houston Hotel is changing its moniker. By the time you read this, the world will be calling it the Alden Houston. The restaurant remains 17, but the Sam Bar is now called A+. Overseeing this transition is newly arrived company president Tim Miller, who played a key role in building Ian Schrager’s hotel empire. Ryan Pera, formerly sous-chef at Quattro, is the new executive chef at 17 | In other hotel news, Jason Robinson (formerly of Goodfellows in Minneapolis, and Chicago’s Tru) has been named executive chef of the Inn at Dos Brisas | Namesakes: Bombay Palace has morphed into Kiran’s. Kiran Verma, who bought the restaurant earlier this year, has been working to give the restaurant her imprint | Denis Wilson has sold Denis Seafood House—both the original location and the new spot near Memorial City Mall—to MetroNational Corp. Longtime chef Ellen Gonzalez has left as well | Jean Soussand has closed Marrakesh, and Marco Wiles has taken over the lower Westheimer location for his new pizza concept, Dolce Vita | Welcome to the hood: Indika, Anita Jaisinghani’s contemporary Indian restaurant, will be right next door to Dolce Vita when it moves from its original location out in the Memorial | Trevisio, the restaurant located atop the John P. McGovern Texas Medical Center Commons building, is now under the management of Tracy Vaught (Hugo’s, Prego, Backstreet Café). John Watt and Bonner Cameron have created the new contemporary Italian menu, which features charred tuna with watercress and oranges, prosciutto pizza, and pappardelle with braised rabbit | Jerry and Laura Lasco, owners of the two Tasting Room Wine Cafe sites located uptown and midtown, report that construction is underway for a third storefront, this one in River Oaks. Scheduled to open this winter, the new Tasting Room will offer more wines and have a kitchen for preparing homemade pizzas, bruschettas, and more | Condolences to the family and friends of noted local restaurateur Sam Segari, who ran a number of restaurants, most recently Segari’s on Shepherd, and was well known among River Oaks clientele. Also to the family and associates of Mike Miller, the go-to guy for Houston wine lovers. Miller was the sommelier at the old Confederate House and the Houston Club before becoming the Burgundy and Pinot Noir specialist at Spec’s.


Paris rising: Welcome Eric Kayser’s Breadbar, a bread bakery/cafe on W. Third Street across from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Kayser, a renowned artisan bread baker, also co-owns Paris’s celebrated gourmet food store, Boulangépicier, with Alain Ducasse. The production facility is in El Segundo and wholesale customers already include restaurants like Bastide | Chocolates à la Carte in Valencia, a provider of elegant, artistic chocolates to the hospitality industry since 1986, has welcomed Stanton Ho in the newly created position of corporate executive chef. Ho is an internationally recognized pastry chef, chocolatier, and revered chef/instructor who was previously with the Las Vegas Hilton for 27 years | The long-delayed and much talked about Wilshire restaurant in Santa Monica is now welcoming guests. The new American menu with Mediterranean touches is under the direction of partner Christopher Blobaum, who most recently led the brigade at the Surf and Sand Resort in Laguna Beach. The general manager is L.A. restaurant veteran Harvey Friend, most recently of Water Grill | Distinctive destination restaurants are becoming part of the landscape in the burgeoning Temecula wine country. The most recent addition, the Plantation House Restaurant at Maurice Car’rie Winery, is scheduled to open this month. The principals are long-time Maui restaurateurs Larry and Kathleen Leonard, and the chef is Brian Clements (ex-Domaine Chandon Restaurant) who relocated from the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach | Belmont Shore in Long Beach wasn’t particularly known for serious dining until the debut of Biggs. The proprietor is Brett Witke (who designed Jar, the swank Beverly Boulevard La Brea steakhouse), and the culinary team and junior partners are accomplished pastry chef Amy Pressman (Old Town Bakery) and Seth Greenburg (ex-Meson G. and Troquet). All of the ingredients for the cured meat plate are from Salumi in Seattle (owned by Mario’s papa, Armandino Batali). The eye-catching desserts change weekly depending on the fruits of the season | French bistro cuisine at surprisingly reasonable prices is now available in Burbank with the launch of Bistro Provence. Personable owner/chef Miki Zivkovic is an alum of Pinot Bistro in Studio City. Already popular is the classic bouillabaisse | Melba Rodriguez, a veteran of the kitchens at King’s Fish House in Long Beach and McCormick & Schmick’s in El Segundo, has joined the exclusive club of local chef/proprietors with the opening of Melba’s Bistro in Hermosa Beach. Her menu is composed of light California fare | The Smith Brothers Restaurant Group, prominent operators in Pasadena, have secured the services of Aaron Lindgren (ex-Comparte’s of California and Cinch) as executive pastry chef for all of their well-known properties including Parkway Grill, Arroyo Chop House, Smitty’s Grill, and Crocodile Cafe (Pasadena and Glendale) | Chicago’s top dog in franks, Dick Portillo, has launched his first Portillo’s Hot Dogs outside of the greater Chicago area in the Buena Park Downtown Mall in Orange County. The pleas of local Windy City ex-pats who longed for the Chicago-style dogs and signature Italian beef sandwiches were the inspiration for this $6 million, 195-seat restaurant.


Pace has closed. The year-old Tribeca eatery never quite matched the vibe or popularity of Jimmy Bradley’s other beloved restaurants, Red Cat, The Harrison, and Mermaid Inn. No word on chef Joey Campanaro’s next move | And the fire has gone out at Pearson’s Texas BBQ on the Upper East Side. Founder Robert Pearson retired from the restaurant a year ago. Now owner Ken Aretsky wants to move it downtown. In the meantime, chef Francesco Antonucci, who was designer Adam Tihany’s partner at Remi for years, has leased the space and plans to do what he does best—great Italian fare | Mo Pitkin’s House of Satisfaction just might be the quirkiest restaurant concept ever: a Judeo-Latino brasserie and performance space. It’s brought to us by the brothers Hartman, one of whom owns the offbeat Two Boots pizza chain. It’s all cheek and charm, with a side of cholesterol. Think deep-fried macaroni and cheese, the Cuban Reuben, seafood Louis G (a mixed seafood salad with creamy guajillo chili dressing), and a killer grilled skirt steak with chimichurri. Order the “Mo-jito” as an antidote before your next blood test | He’s back: Larry Kolar, whose excellent Latin-inflected cooking has been missed since he was last seen at Bolivar, is on the scene again. He’s cooking at the new Camino Sur, located in a refurbished theater in the Garment District. The menu is a study in eclectic South American flavors like duck confit arepas, ropa vieja empanadas, lobster soup, various styles of ceviches, and grilled meats of all types | Much ado about a memoir. Doug Psaltis is the chef de cuisine of Geoffrey Zakarian’s Country restaurant (which was preceded a bit by the sleek European-style Cafe at Country). Before that he was head of the kitchen at Alain Ducasse’s Mix in New York. And somewhere in between he managed to turn out an autobiography. The Seasoning of a Chef chronicles his rise from a family-owned Greek diner in Queens to some of the most prestigious kitchens in the world, including the French Laundry and Alain Ducasse at the Essex House. Interestingly, his memoir is reported to be critical of those very names upon which his reputation is built and has been stirring things up since it was released this fall | Chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin has partnered with mega-restaurateur Steve Hanson (Fiamma, Ruby Foo’s, etc.) on the spacious Spanish restaurant Barça 18. Set in the former Park Avalon space in the Flatiron District, Barça 18 is named after Barcelona’s premier soccer team. Expect moderate prices and an upbeat ambience | Hurry, hurry, get your espresso. Until mid-December, Galleria illy in Soho is a fabulous place to immerse all your senses in coffee. It’s an art gallery and educational space that also features a coffee library, coffee service, and an impressive chandelier made from signature illy espresso cups. Sweets available from Osteria del Circo, WD-50, and Tru in Chicago | Which came first, the fish or the egg? Caviar Russe, the caviar boutique and restaurant in Midtown, has landed a sushi chef—Haruo Kimura, who previously crafted nigiri and maki at Blue Ribbon Sushi and Iso. According to owner David Magnotta, the pairing of caviar and sushi is a natural combination. Just don’t expect spicy tuna roll with beluga. The restaurant offers separate menus | Quiet departure. After a 20-year relationship as wine director for Montrachet, Daniel Johnnes has gone uptown. He is now the wine director for Daniel Boulud’s restaurants and the two plan to open a wine bar next year | No more monkey business. East Village’s Monkey Royale, the clever coffee bar from Fred Twomey, who owns the Bar Veloce chainlet, has changed direction. The spot has been turned into Bar Carrera, a cozy Basque-style tapas bar | The New York Palace Hotel has announced plans for new dining spaces in the historic and spectacular Villard Houses in Midtown. The former digs of Le Cirque 2000 will feature Gilt, an intimate space for chef Paul Liebrandt (of Atlas fame). The Madison Room, a larger dining area, will be open for breakfast as well as for private parties. More details to come | There is a sandwich god! We can’t always get away from the Beard House to indulge in Tony Luke’s outrageous sandwich of roast pork with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe in Times Square (and it’s gotta be eaten hot or it’s just not the same), so we’re thrilled to report a second Tony Luke’s is opening in the West Village in the former Murray’s Cheese Store space. The two storefronts are part of the Philadelphia-based Tony Luke’s Old Philly Style Sandwiches chain | Christian Delouvrier is now at the Carlyle Hotel. Executive hotel chef Jimmy Sakatos is working with Delouvrier on the new menu for the Carlyle Restaurant, formerly known as Dumonet at the Carlyle | Fatty Crab, Zak Pelaccio’s new casual joint in the West Village (not far from his sophisticated 5 Ninth eatery in the Meatpacking District) is a hit. The gently priced menu approaches the globe-trotting free spirit of Pelaccio’s late Chickenbone Cafe in Williamsburg. Pork belly tea sandwiches, spicy pork noodles, and chow fun soup with shrimp and lardo are just some of the dishes you’ll enjoy. Don’t miss his giant blue crabs bathed in a fiery chili sauce | Korean-American chef Lannie Ahn has struck gold with her new, highly personalized, sliver of a restaurant in West Chelsea, D’or Ahn. She applies her stellar kitchen credentials (as in Per Se and Alain Ducasse) to Korean flavors and creates memorable dishes, such as pressed veal feet with sesame leaf and honshimeji mushrooms | Kurt Gutenbrunner’s third and by far most striking restaurant (he also owns Wallsé and Cafe Sabarsky) is Thor in the Hotel on Rivington on the Lower East Side. It’s also the least Austrian. Or at least that’s how it seems to us, with menu items such as pillowy gnocchi with mushroom and prosciutto stew, white tomato mousse, salmon lasagna with Riesling, and concorde grape soda float with ginger ice cream | Alex Ureña, the chef at Suba on the Lower East Side, strikes out on his own with Ureña, his modern Spanish restaurant in North Gramercy.


The much praised Bianca, opened by Dominique Filoni and his wife, Sabine, has a not-so-new chef at the helm. Executive chef Michael Fiorello has been in the kitchen for a while as chef de cuisine, but he now plans a few menu changes | Bon Voyage. Passarelle and Bistro Bravo, the Radnor beauties owned by Marty Grims, have shuttered. Grims is steering most scheduled parties to Moshulu, his reconfigured dockside sailing ship on Philadelphia’s waterfront | Jolly Weldon, proprietor of Jolly’s American Bar, opened Jolly’s Sporting Saloon, a new upscale sports bar offering an American grill-style menu with BBQ ribs, oversized burgers, salads, and sandwiches | Haru, the Old City outpost of the New York–based Japanese fusion restaurant group, has brought in a master sushi chef as its executive chef. Shingo “Shin” Inoue came from Shoji Sushi in Miami. Prior to that, Inoue worked at Nozawa in Vail, Colorado, and Nobu in Malibu | Long-running restaurant/bar Chaucer’s has changed hands. Former owner Rick Masiello’s heirs have sold the business to Tom Vasilades, owner of South Street Souvlaki. Greg Clark, who has managed the restaurant for years, is still out front, and former Palm chef Jose Vargas is now in the kitchen | After being closed for renovations, Meze has reopened with a new chef. Konstantinos Pitsillids (ex-Bistro St. Tropez) has installed a small plates menu | Virtù, an Abruzzi-style trattoria, opened in South Philadelphia on restaurant-laden E. Passyunk Avenue. Luciana Sourio, who worked briefly at Buon Appetito and in her own family restaurant, is the chef | Raul Schmalbach and his brother Jonathan opened the BYOB Hamlet Bistro in the restaurant-poor area of Mount Airy. Raul, who trained at the Restaurant School and worked at several major Philadelphia restaurants like Normandie, Deux Cheminées, Striped Bass, Four Seasons, and Treetops, will be running the kitchen | Enterprising restaurateur Stephen Starr has appointed Kelley Jones as vice president of restaurant operations of his Starr Restaurant Organization, which currently operates 12 restaurants in Philadelphia, including Morimoto, Striped Bass, and Barclay Prime | Jonathan Vlasic bought Alla Famiglia in Allentown from founder David Ayn. The new chef/owner cooks fresh Italian-inspired dishes in the open kitchen.


Bad news first: Popular La Prima Espresso Co. is closing its downtown shop | Now for the good news: Southside restaurateurs Steve Zumoff and Scott Kramer (Lava Lounge, Tiki Lounge, the Beehive) have purchased the former D & D Auto Service Center to open their first full-service restaurant—a gas station–themed American grill still unnamed at press time | Tony Masci has relocated his long-established South Side restaurant, Abruzzi, to vastly larger quarters in the Holiday Inn Express Hotel. Chef Mark Burnis continues to execute Masci’s mother’s recipes, with some personal invention | Cafe Richard, a market and cafe, opened in the Strip District | After seven years at Penn Brewery on the North Side, Jude Wargo has been promoted to executive chef. Jeff Bliss moves from afternoon kitchen manager to sous-chef | Ukiah, serving “American food with an attitude,” opened across from Edgewood Town Center | Trilogy, which replaced the defunct La Strada downtown, is offering a moderately priced, modern American menu and specialty cocktails. The owner is still Steel City Media, with Todd Frischling as managing partner.


George Riffle, longtime manager of downtown’s Laurel, has taken a new position. He will be responsible for the development of two floors of lounges and eateries in the Maryland Hotel on F Street | Jack’s Sidewalk Cafe has opened on Girard in La Jolla. Part of the Jack’s La Jolla complex, the cafe offers a specialty coffee bar, Italian sodas, smoothies, and breakfast pastries.


All the changes and openings in the restaurant scene bring back memories of the dot-com era. In September, Jocelyn Bulow opened the first of three new Chez Maman bistros in Bernal Heights. In the next few months, there will be two more storefronts opening on Union and De Haro streets | Pascal Rigo bought the popular Platanos, a Central American restaurant in the Mission District. Rigo closed the restaurant briefly for remodeling, but it is now open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. During the day look for tortas, pupusas, and eggs. Rigo’s other company, Bay Bread, will supply South American–style breads to the restaurant | Joanna Karlinsky (formerly of the now-shuttered Meetinghouse restaurant) and Peter Snyderman ( ex-Alta Plaza) have purchased the Elite Cafe in San Francisco. The new menu will include dishy Southern cuisine like rock shrimp and scallion johnnycakes and crawfish bisque. Karlinsky will also resurrect the famous Meetinghouse biscuits | A few chef changes within the PlumpJack Group. At Balboa Cafe, sous-chef Jose Lemus (who worked his way up the line from dishwasher) is now chef de cuisine. Further afield, Mitchell Morgan was promoted to chef de cuisine at PlumpJack Squaw Valley | You can now find a little bit of Amsterdam in SoMa. Dinner at Supperclub, the new boudoir restaurant based on the Dutch original, means that you’ll be spending four hours eating in bed while members of a performance troupe suspend themselves from a large hoop hanging from the ceiling. Dinner is at the whim of chef Jerry McGinnis, formerly of North Beach’s now-closed Jianna. Look for dishes like truffled popcorn, roasted pumpkin salad, and seared halibut with saffron risotto | Cav, a wine bar, opened in San Francisco’s Civic Center with 40 wines by the glass and small plates to nosh. Chef Christine Mullen’s menu starts with bites of crudo and charcuterie. Entrées include oxtail ravioli and lamb kebobs with farro tabbouleh | Scott Howard, chef/owner of Fork in San Anselmo, opened his self-named restaurant in the space that once housed San Francisco’s Cypress Club. Diners can expect California-French food like carrot broth with sabayon and short ribs with celery root purée. The warm interior, in shades of chocolate, cream, and saffron, also features a raw bar and charcuterie area. For dessert, don’t miss the banana caramel pie with coconut cookie crust | Tartare, George Morrone’s Financial District restaurant, has closed | Bruno Chemel has left the instantly popular La Suite after garnering rave reviews. David Bazirgan will be taking over as chef. Bazirgan was one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Rising Star Chefs and is also executive chef of Baraka and Chez Papa | Nationally renowned Paul Bertolli has left Oakland’s Oliveto as the chef. Bertolli, who was with Oliveto for 11 years, will maintain a small share in the business as a silent partner. He plans to concentrate on his cured meat business, Fra’ Mani Handcrafted Salumi. Chef de cuisine Paul Canales, who has been running the kitchen for over five years, is now top toque | North Beach’s Buca Giovanni closed quietly in September without a trace of what was to become of the space, the owners, or the chef | Luke and Kitty Sung, owners of the very popular small plates restaurant Isa, will close the 15-month-old Lux, a similar small plates place around the corner, in November. It will be replaced by crêpe cafe Squat and Gobble | A wine bar called Cork opened quietly this past summer in Sausalito. With just 38 seats, the restaurant offers 20 wines by the glass and a small menu of nibbles.


Alvin Binuya and business partner Jose Gonzales opened Madoka, a Pan-Pacific restaurant on Bainbridge Island, 30 minutes by ferry from the downtown waterfront. Binuya was the opening chef of Rich Malia’s Ponti Seafood Grill, where he spearheaded the popular Northwest fusion craze in 1990. He previously worked as executive chef of Axis in the Belltown district | Owner Bob Day of the 35th Street Bistro just signed on chef Steve Smrstik, who left Christine Keff’s Flying Fish in Belltown after spending seven years there as chef de cuisine. Smrstik has been replaced by Angie Roberts, who was the executive sous-chef at Earth & Ocean for the past seven years | Lindsey Schwartz, president of Schwartz Brothers Restaurants (Chandler’s Crabhouse, Atrium Cafe, Piazza Italian Cafe), is now the chief executive officer of Daniel’s Broilers and is adding three restaurants to the company’s portfolio. To celebrate, Schwartz and his staff decided to open the Lake Union location for lunch and to renovate and freshen the decor of the Leschi Marina location. Lake Union general manager is Brian Still and Lloyd Seaton will serve as chef | Chef Gordon Naccarato and his brother, Steve, have restored the ground floor of the Waddell building in Tacoma and opened Pacific Grill. It features 17-foot-high exposed beam ceilings, glowing sea life art forms, and intimate lighting. Both brothers will continue to run their other restaurant, the Beach House at Purdy | Entrepreneur Nazir Khamisa (Beba’s, Chutney’s) opened Spice Restaurant & Lounge on the northern edge of Belltown. The elegant dining room seats 100 and includes a private bar. The menu emphasizes the foods of Indonesia, Asia, and Latin America | Sure footed: Stumbling Goat Bistro welcomes executive chef Seth Caswell, a native of Maine and most recently of Brooklyn. In New York, Caswell spent time in the kitchen at JoJo and as chef de cuisine at Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton.


Washington, D.C.

Fogo de Chão, the successful multi-unit Brazilian churrascaria concept, plans to open a location in the heart of Washington, D.C. this December at 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. A team of skilled Gaucho chefs slow-roast traditional churrascaria meats including Picanha (prime sirloin), Costela (beef ribs), Alcatra (top sirloin), Filet Mignon, Fraldinha (bottom sirloin), Cordeiro (lamb), Lombo (pork), Linguica (pork sausages) and Frango (variety of cuts including chicken legs and chicken breasts wrapped in bacon). Fogo de Chão is open for lunch Monday through Friday and for dinner daily. Reservations are recommended. For more information please call (202) 347-4668, or visit

James Island, SC

And shout: Announcing Brett Maynard’s new restaurant, Twizt, which specializes in eclectic Mediter-ranean cuisine. Maynard, who also continues as executive chef at Fulton V in downtown Charleston, is a managing partner at the new eatery.

Charleston, SC

Michael Kramer, who has served as executive chef at McCrady’s, one of downtown Charleston’s finest restaurants, since 1999, has announced that he will leave Charleston in November and will most likely relocate to Chicago to begin a new chapter in his career.