news &

Find your city here:


   January 2006


More changes at MidCity Cuisine as Rob Phalen (Alon’s and Mumbo Jumbo) comes on board as chef de cuisine. Nicolas Bour (ex-Iris) has replaced Lance Gummere as executive chef | MidCity’s former chef, Shaun Doty, is now at Table 1280 in the expanded Woodruff Arts Center on Peachtree in a new contemporary dining room overlooking the Piazza. Billed as a “tapas lounge and American brasserie,” Doty’s latest features an eclectic menu, including manchego with quince paste and truffle honey and grilled octopus with black chickpeas and fennel salad | There’s a bull over Peachtree. Gary Mennie’s new Taurus is open, literally three stories over Peachtree Street on Brookwood Place. Mennie opened Canoe ten years ago after stints at Spago in L.A. and the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead. Tony Akly designed the 240-seat restaurant, with a wraparound balcony that overlooks the stunning skyline. Entrées include a lamb T-bone, roasted halibut, and slow-cooked ribs | And now for Sugo III. Brothers Joseph and John Spagnuolo have opened a third location of the popular Greek–Italian concept in the Shoppes of St. Ives in Duluth. John is the chef | Chris and Michele Sedgwick (Van Gogh’s, Vinny’s on Windward, and Aspen’s Signature Steaks) have a funky new creation—Pure Taqueria in Alpharetta. Pure will serve Mexican cuisine based on the Sedgwicks’ travels in Mexico and input from Mexican-born executive chef Eddie Guzman of Van Gogh’s.


Sel de la Terre has a new/old pastry chef, Michael Geldart. Most recently the executive chef at Vincenzo’s in Concord, Geldart previously spent two years at Sel as a baker and pastry assistant. Geldart replaces former head baker and pastry chef Peter Merrill, who has enrolled in a farm training program at the Farm School in Athol, Massachusetts | South Boston has secured its hot spot status with the opening of trendy new restaurant South. The Pan-American eatery is the brainchild of Dan Kaufman, former manager of Abe & Louie’s and the North End’s Ristorante Fiore, and now president and founder of Trinity Restaurant Group. Jerome Watkins, who has worked with Mario Batali at Esca in New York and Lydia Shire at Excelsior, heads up the kitchen as executive corporate chef | Sidney’s Grille has a new chef, Ryan Cyr, who has cooked his way around Cambridge with previous stints at Grafton Street, Red Line, and Henrietta’s Table, as well as Boston’s Aura Restaurant at the Seaport Hotel. He replaces Stefano Zimei, who is now at Worcester’s One Eleven Chop House | The lights are on at the long-empty site of the former DuBarry Restaurant on Newbury Street. The Back Bay Restaurant Group (Abe & Louie’s, Joe’s American Bar & Grill, Papa Razzi) has bought the building that housed the French eatery and is turning the basement space into a 180-seat restaurant, with luxury condos to be built above. Fear not, Francophiles: the new restaurant will also be French, according to the group’s CEO, Charles Sarkis. Name and chef had not been confirmed by press time | It’s been a year of changes for UpStairs on the Square. First, Amanda Lydon, chef for UpStair’s lower-priced dining room, the Monday Club Bar, left to take some time off and explore new options. Now Susan Regis, who took over cooking for both the Monday Club and the Zebra Room at UpStairs when Lydon left, has also moved on. Regis is taking time to travel and do some private catering. Meanwhile, Beantown native Steve Brand is the new chef de cuisine, having honed his skills over the last two years as sous-chef to Jean-Georges Vongerichten at his NYC flagship restaurant, Jean Georges.


Back to school for chef Ricky Moore. Moore left his post as executive chef at Southwater Cafe early last year to become executive chef and instructor at the Washburne Culinary Institute. Now he’s running the school’s just-opened fine dining Parrot Cage Restaurant, the only joint in town that’s actually right on the lake. With a menu featuring Midwest-grown ingredients, Moore plans to make the food even better than the view | Ultra–haute cuisine has hit Albany Park with the opening of Matsumoto, the namesake of chef/owner Seijiro Matsumoto, who is offering adventuresome foodies elaborate, traditional Japanese tasting menus (kaiseki), which come in seven to eleven courses | Chef/owner Patrick Cassata is serving quick-service, healthy cuisine at his new Loop restaurant, Spa Cafe | Though chef/owner Michael Kornick may have turned over his toque at mk to his former sous-chef, Todd Stein (see December Dateline), he’s more active than ever. Kornick will still oversee mk, as well as his A Milano Italian Grill in the suburbs, and he will work with the Nine Group to open seven venues in 2006 | Chef Eric Smith is putting a contemporary spin on Italian classics at his new Romeo Romeo in Wicker Park. For example: inflatable Caprese salad, a half round of mozzarella that’s plumped with basil oil and accompanied by roasted tomatoes | After stirring things up for a year in the kitchen of Aria at the Fairmont Hotel, chef Leon Gunn has been named chef de cuisine. Gunn formerly cooked at Spring.


Bill Bracken, an 11-year veteran of the celebrated Peninsula Hotel Beverly Hills, most recently as executive food and beverage director, is wearing whites again as executive chef at the newly branded Island Hotel Newport Beach. The luxe property, previously known as the Four Seasons Hotel Newport Beach, is owned by the Irvine Company. This is a homecoming for Bracken as he was previously the executive sous-chef at the former Four Seasons Hotel | Oxnard up in Ventura County isn’t known as a city of destination restaurants, but that could be changing with the arrival of Tierra Sur at the new Herzog Wine Cellars, which has a rich, 20-year history of winemaking in California. Chef Todd Aarons (ex-Zuni Cafe in San Francisco) is a California native and created the wine-friendly menu of Cali-Med specialties | Aqua at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort has closed. Coincidentally, the restaurant will be replaced by a new, as yet unnamed concept from Michael Mina (Michael Mina at the Westin St. Francis Hotel), who was previously the corporate executive chef and partner of the restaurant group that originally established Aqua in Orange County | Roy Yamaguchi’s Hawaiian fusion cuisine has arrived in downtown Los Angeles with the debut of Roy’s, in walking distance of Staples Center. The on-site executive chef/partner is Curtis Mar, a nine-year veteran of Yamaguchi’s restaurant group and most recently of Roy’s in Rancho Mirage | Since 1937, family owned and operated Surfas Restaurant Supply & Gourmet Foods has provided SoCal chefs and restaurateurs with top-of-the-line products. After two years of planning and construction, the company has opened a new showroom/warehouse/test kitchen complex in Culver City that includes the limited service Cafe Surfas for breakfast and lunch. Executive chef is Brandi Quinn (ex-The Restaurant at the Getty Center). On the menu are sandwiches made from premium prepared gourmet deli meats and artisanal cheeses served on boutique bakery breads. | For the first time in 12 years, Thornton Winery in the Temecula Valley wine country has a new executive chef. Robert Wood (ex-Paradise Inn at Mount Rainier in Washington) now oversees the busy kitchen at Cafe Campagne, located on the lushly landscaped grounds of the landmark winery | Thaifoon in the Irvine Spectrum Center has been renamed Ling & Louie’s Asian Bar and Grill. The goal is to broaden the restaurant’s scope from its original Thai focus to include Chinese, Japanese, and Hawaiian fusion dishes. The sister Thaifoon located in Newport Beach’s Fashion Island is also scheduled for the same name change in the coming months. Executive chef Erick Kronquist continues to oversee the restaurant | Ozumo, the high-end Japanese restaurant in Fashion Island that launched early last year, has closed after just nine months.


Franklin Becker, formerly Executive Chef of Philly's Washington Square and consultant on several Stephen Starr restaurants in Atlantic City (Buddakhan, Continental and Beach Bar), has recently taken over as Executive Chef of Brasserie, a favorite New York dining spot since 1959, located at 100 East 53rd Street; 212-751-4840 | Chef Paul Liebrandt, formerly of Atlas and Papillon, has made his long-awaited comeback with the opening of Gilt, a restaurant and bar at The Villard Mansion of The New York Palace Hotel (455 Madison Avenue at 50th Street), 212-891-8100 | Seeing stars...the revered, European-based Michelin guide to restaurants made its stateside debut recently in New York City. Four of the city’s best were awarded the top honor, three stars: Le Bernardin, Per Se, Jean Georges, and Alain Ducasse at the Essex House | Terrence Cave has taken over the former Soho Steak spot to open HQ, a New York–style bistro. Cave, an alum of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, was previously at the Cub Room and various Charlie Palmer restaurants. He’s kept steak on the menu (as in marinated hanger with Pinot Noir reduction and firm polenta), but added tidbits like foie gras with pineapple chutney and Niman Ranch pork belly | And for those who like their steak kosher, there is a new option: La Carne Grill in Murray Hill. Eddie Allaham, who also owns Prime Grill, has teamed up with chef Alexandre Petard (who was at the sumptuous and now shuttered Box Tree) and sushi chef Sheng Xu | In the mood for a great wine bar? Belly up to Bill Peet’s new haunt, Pair of 8’s on the Upper West Side. It’s a sure bet you’ll be treated to excellent contemporary American cooking—Peet previously cooked at Cafe des Artistes and Asia de Cuba | Chow town: Mr. Chow Restaurant, the UK transplant for the rich and fabulous, has outposts in Beverly Hills and London, as well as in Midtown. Now there will be a second Manhattan location in TriBeCa. The high-end Chinese eatery, the brainchild of actor/designer/painter/restaurateur Michael Chow, is taking over the former Pace space. Don’t miss the traditional Peking duck | The Loffredos are at it again. Stephen and Thalia—of the critically acclaimed, but short-lived Cena in the Flatiron District—have owned the popular Zoë in SoHo for well over a decade. Their partnership with manager Scott Lawrence and architect Jeffrey Beers now moves to the Upper East Side. Jovia is set in an elegant town house and features a menu by Josh DeChellis (Sumile). At Jovia, DeChellis broadens his horizons toward Italy and beyond with offerings like potted suckling pig and duck, served with a caramelized endive and porcini marmalade, and delicate gnocchi with braised hake and sausage | Astor Wines and Spirits, a landmark store in the East Village, will expand its area of expertise later this winter, with the nearby Astor Center. There will be cooking classes, a private event space, and a library. Stay tuned for details | Le Zinc, the casual bistro owned by Karen and David Waltuck, has closed. But their beloved Chanterelle is going strong, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year | Maroons Smoke Shack in the West Village is now simply Smoke Shack. Chef Gavin Citron remains in charge of the barbecue-and-beyond fare. He and his partner, Arlene Weston of Maroons in Chelsea and Harlem, have parted ways | Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood continues to be a restaurant boomtown. Some newcomers include Black Pearl (not to be confused with the Black Pearl in the East Village) and Futura Bistro Modern, set in a brownstone with an Italian/Argentinean menu. It all makes sense when you know that Italian native Giovanni Iovine—who owns Borgo Antico in the West Village—is married to Argentine chef Lisa Lo Blue. And Thai restaurants are nothing new to Park Slope, but none are as modern or dramatically designed as Beet. Owner Pat Rodsomarng also owns Mango nearby. He’s serving up traditional as well as French-influenced Thai food, notably a red snapper with champagne-vanilla beurre blanc | The Laundry, an upscale and popular eatery in East Hampton, is moving into the nearby Maidstone Arms Inn. The Laundry replaces the Inn’s CoQueze wine bar and restaurant | Rosa Mexicano has moved south of the border. South of 23rd Street, that is. The fabulous Mexican restaurant now boasts a Flatiron outpost, in addition to its spots on the East and West sides. The latest spot is the cavernous former America, vibrantly designed by David Rockwell. Culinary director Roberto Santibañez oversees the menu, including the signature tableside-prepared guacamole and achiote-marinated pork, as well as Pueblan street food like the excellent braised short rib and pickled jalapeño sandwich. And don’t forget to order the pomegranate margarita | East Village superstar restaurateurs Jack and Grace Lamb, who have a special thing going with Jewel Bako (notable for receiving a Michelin star) and Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar, among others, decided to close their short-lived Grace’s Kalbi Bar. It’s been turned into a private dining room | Hue, the swanky West Village modern Vietnamese restaurant and lounge, has closed after a bitter dispute with the landlord | Healthy Chinese food? Chef James Marshall, who’s cooked at Tribeca Grill and China Grill, has teamed up with restaurateur Michelle Jean, who owns the delectable and not-so-health-conscious Butter, to create Ginger in Harlem. The menu pays homage to Hong Kong by way of steaming, grilling, and baking. Superb Angus beef spareribs are glazed with hoisin-barbecue sauce and a touch of sesame | Rocco’s might have been a bust, but chef Tony Acinapura is proving Italian-American food can be quite delicious with his Aquaterra in Midtown. We mention Rocco’s because that’s precisely where Acinapura worked—and from where he was fired dramatically—on national television. Now on his own, the chef offers seasonal dishes such as gnocchi with short rib ragù and fresh ricotta, double-cut pork chops with spoon polenta, escarole, and roasted garlic sauce, and a stellar citrus butter cake with roasted figs | Global tapas? Perfect for when you can’t decide what to eat. Askew is chic, colorful, and on the edge of SoHo. And if chef Chris Lim’s pedigree is any indication (think Daniel, Town, and Upstairs at ‘21’), then the Jamaican jerk chicken wings and goat cheese and beet salad with Asian pear will be spectacular.


The Grill at the Ritz-Carlton is still undergoing some changes: Erstwhile Philadelphia chef Terrence Feury has decamped for the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead, Georgia, where he will consult for the restaurant. Kevin Spraga has taken over back in Philly. Spraga, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University and an apprenticeship in Brussels at the Hotel Metropole, most recently worked in the kitchens of Stephen Starr and Georges Perrier | Amada, a new restaurant featuring tapas and paella, is setting a new standard for Spanish food in Philadelphia. Chef/owner Jose Garces, formerly of the Starr Restaurant Organization, is determined to bring the true tastes of Spain to the historic city | Ristorante San Carlo, a longtime fixture on South Street, has changed hands and, after a quick refurbishment, reopened as Core de Roma | David Mantelmacher’s casual eatery in Ardmore, Plate, now has a clone in Wyncote. The only addition to the menu is a design-it-yourself salad | Stephen Starr will add yet another restaurant to his stable, a French bistro called Parc.


Stingaree, a new 22,000-square-foot luxury restaurant and nightclub, has opened in downtown San Diego. Chef Antonio Friscia will be serving a fusion menu | Bruce Logue is the new chef at Vivace, the upscale eatery at the Four Seasons Resort Aviara in Carlsbad. Logue comes to the property from New York’s Babbo and marks the second high-powered transplant from New York to San Diego. The other is Tony DiSalvo, who came to Jack’s La Jolla from Jean-Georges | Red Dahlia has opened in Carlsbad under the direction of two California Culinary Academy buddies, chef/owner Sean Firtel and sous-chef Tony Radna. Eclectic is the word for both the place and the food.


Christmas will come and go, but the San Francisco restaurant scene will likely remain as fat as a holiday goose. Wine bars have been opening like mad, and Napa Valley seems like the obvious place for a new one from former Dean & DeLuca executive chef, Peter Halikas. N.V. Restaurant & Lounge has 70 seats (plus 30 more outside). Halikas’s menu concentrates on small plates and wines from local producers as well as imports | In town, Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani, the husband-and-wife team that owns and operates Terra in St. Helena, opened Ame at the St. Regis Hotel. Ame features a long, intricate sashimi bar menu with highlights like Japanese sea bream with ankimo, tosaka, and ponzu; striped bass crudo; and smoked Tasmanian ocean trout mi cuit. The remainder of the seafood-heavy menu includes dishes such as braised Wagyu beef cheek and Terra’s signature Alaskan black cod and shrimp dumplings | Rocker Sammy Hagar is helping to keep the SoMa masses well lubricated as a partner in Tres Agaves, a new Mexican restaurant whose bar specializes in tequilas. Julio Bermejo (of Tommy’s Mexican in the Richmond district) is manning the bar, Joseph Manzare (Globe and Zuppa) is executive chef, and Eric Rubin is a constant presence in the front of the house. Regional Mexican dishes like masa cakes with goat cheese and shrimp with parsley salsa are offered in large or small plates. For dessert, don’t miss the warm churros | Mexican continues to be a current trend: Mamacita has opened in the Marina. Run by Sam Josi (formerly of Slanted Door) and Stryker Scales (Betelnut), the restaurant is located in Cafe Marimba’s old digs, with a huge bar and snug tables. Starters include ceviches and freshly-made tamales, and larger plates feature an adobo chicken and grilled skirt steak. For dessert? More churros | Though Mission District dwellers mourned the loss of their beloved Alma, they are looking forward to Garçon, a new French bistro by Olivier Azancot and Eric Klein of Plouf and B44. The menu is classic, with French onion soup, roast lamb with flageolets, and sautéed scallops with vanilla beurre blanc, but the look is less traditional, with sleek lines, large mirrors, and purple velvet couches | Just when you thought you could cool it with the holiday eating, a new 220-seat barbecue is prepared to feed mammoth appetites. The aptly named T-Rex has a down-home, retro American menu featuring smokehouse meats like spareribs, smoked brisket, and pulled pork. Sides couldn’t be any more comforting—think long-cooked greens, cornbread, and baked beans. Desserts like coconut cake are equally homey.


Modern Italian steakhouse Pinzimini is scheduled to open in the Westin Arlington Gateway this winter. The name comes from the word pinzimonio, which describes the Italian dipping ceremony for vegetables and bread. The menu will mix high-quality grilled meats with Tuscan-accented salads and pastas. The chef had not yet been announced at press time | Expect a February opening for Rustico, a new wood-burning oven restaurant with 30 beers on tap. Slated to open in Potomac Plaza, it will be the newest restaurant from the Babins, who brought us Evening Star Cafe, Vermilion, and Tallula. They also plan to open a late-night coffee shop and bakery across the street from the new eatery | John Colameco of Pepper’s has sold the popular 17th Street restaurant to George Gozem and David Barigault, former general manager and chef (respectively) of Bistro du Coin. Look for more French attitude and menu items in the legendary location | Wouldn’t it be fun to design pastries around blockbuster shows like Wicked? Imagine the chocolate witch hat and green ice cream that Hartyoun Sarkees, the new pastry chef for Restaurant Associates at the Kennedy Center, has created to complement the Tony award–winning show. This fourth-generation pastry chef comes from stints at Smith & Wollensky, Sam & Harry’s, and Sodexho. Chef Sarkees’s party creations will be featured in the Roof Terrace Restaurant & Bar as well as during banquets | Kenny Clay is the executive chef at the new Clyde’s at Gallery Place in the oh-so-hot Penn Quarter. He comes direct from Clyde’s in Columbia | Heather Chittum, formerly of Potomac Hospitality Services, is the new pastry chef at Michel Richard Citronelle. Her accomplished assistants have taken over her old duties: Amelia Bayna will handle desserts at Dish and Notti Bianchi, while Leigh Weinfield takes over pastry duties at Circle Bistro. Heather’s husband, Tony Chittum, remains the executive chef at Notti Bianchi.


Seattle, Washington

Chef Shannon Galusha first got our attention at 727 Pine in Seattle, and we've been waiting almost a year for his new restaurant, Veil, to open. Galusha is now serving his dinner menu -- a tight and ever-changing list of seasonal appetizers, entrees and dessert, plus signature cocktails-- Tuesday through Sunday, 5-10pm. The bar is open until 2am. 555 Aloha St. (at Taylor Avenue), 206- 216-0600,

Crestview Hills, Kentucky

Cincinnati native Jim Gerhardt and business partner Mike Cunha have opened Mike and Jimmy’s Chophouse Grill in the Crestview Hills Town Center. The pair also own the Limestone restaurant in Louisville. Their new venture specializes in traditional steakhouse fare, but with a twist. Think steak Caesar boats with Asiago cheese and pork porterhouse chops with apple bacon lardoons.

Kapalua, Hawaii

After making an impact for six years as executive sous-chef at the Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey, in the Los Angeles area, JoJo Vasquez has traded the marina for the beachfront. Vasquez is now the menu maker at the well-known Banyan Tree Restaurant on the grounds of the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. His free-form seasonal menu centers on Asian-inspired dishes, such as the sugarcane ahi tuna chop topped with caramelized foie gras, green tea noodles, and yuzu-soy beurre blanc.