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Deep Dish: March 2014

Valerie Gladstone - March 2014

Tessa, the brainchild of longtime restaurateur Will Tracy (Punch Restaurant Wined Up Wine Bar) and first-time restaurateur Larry Bellone, is set to open at 349 Amsterdam Ave. Named after Bellone's daughter, Tessa will blend southern French and Italian cuisines in an industrial-meets-rustic setting. Chef Cedric Tovar (formerly of Bobo and West Village hot spot, Rosemary’s) will helm the kitchen. • Gianfranco Sorrentino and Paula Bolla Sorrentino opened Mozzarella & Vino in the space that housed their Il Gattopardo restaurant before they relocated it a few doors down the street to The Rockefeller Townhouses at 13-15 West 54th St. They also own The Leopard at des Artistes. • Two chefs helm the kitchen at the newly opened cafe Margaux in Sean MacPherson’s reimagined Marlton Hotel (5 W. 8th St.), which was once home to Jack Kerouac. Michael Reardon, formerly of Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica and Tra Vigne in St. Helena, California, shares duties with Jeremy Blutstein, who comes from The Crow’s Nest in Montauk and Eataly. The 98 seat cafe, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, is located in the rear of the hotel behind the lobby bar. • Amanda Freitag has taken on the task of bringing the iconic Empire Diner back to life. Credited for sparking a retro upscale diner movement in the late 1970s, the Empire Diner closed in 2010 and, except for a brief and unsuccessful run as the Highliner, remained vacant. Now it’s poised to once again attract the art crowd from nearby Chelsea galleries. Freitag is serving diner classics along with her own creations. • The Pod 51 Hotel and Pop Burger teamed up to launch craft beer gastropub Pop @ Pod (230 E. 51st St.) in the hotel. Exec chef André Dudkiewicz, who worked at Oceana, heads the kitchen. • Once a cart and then a hot dog shop, Dogmatic (120 MacDougal St.) has become a full-fledged restaurant, with Nikki Cascone as consulting chef. She is proprietor of Red Hook Hospitality/Mothercheffer Productions and previously owned 24 Prince. Brad Blum of Blum Enterprises engineered the transformation. He knows something about transformations, having made the Olive Garden a national fast-food favorite. He also consults for the Leon Restaurants group in the U.K. • Richard L. King, former exec chef at Hundred Acres, wears the toque at The Heath (530 W. 27th St.), which opened in the McKittrick Hotel in December. It’s owned by Punchdrunk, the company behind the play, Sleep No More.

Steven Kolow, the co-founder of Boston Chicken, which became Boston Market, established SlowBones Modern BBQ (80 Burlington Mall Rd., Burlington) in December. He left the management of Boston Chicken in the early 1990s and since then has been involved in Internet-related businesses and real estate.

Fabio Trabocchi launched Fiola Mare (3050 K St. NW), which serves seafood inspired by memories of his childhood near Italy’s Adriatic coast. This is his third installment—he also owns Casa Luca and Fiola da Fabio Trabocchi.

Twin chef brothers, Nicola and Fabrizio Carro, and mixologist/partner Cristiano Vezzoli launched Via Verdi Cucina Rustica (6900 Biscayne Blvd., Miami). The Carro brothers will continue as exec chefs at Quattro. Vezzoli recently served as bar manager at Segafredo L’Originale. • Lure Fishbar arrived at Loews Miami Beach Hotel (1600 Collins Ave., Miami Beach), the first Miami outpost of the seafood spot from NYC owners John McDonald and Joshua Pickard along with chef/partner Josh Capon. The trio also run B&B Winepub and El Toro Blanco. Capon and exec chef Jeff Raider oversee the menu. Raider was most recently exec chef at NYC’s Patina Restaurant Group. • Italian designer and nightlife impresario Roberto Cavalli opened the two-story indoor/outdoor Cavalli Miami Restaurant & Lounge (150 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach). It is under the management of Karim Masri and Nicola Siervo of KNR Hospitality Group, while the toque was awarded to Stefano Mazzi, who previously served as exec chef at Ristorante Picolinos in Seattle.

A new chef, Trevor Moran, has arrived from—where else?—Copenhagen’s Noma, to take over the hot seat at The Catbird Seat. Moran was sous chef at Noma for four years. Co-founding chef Josh Habiger left last summer to work as culinary director on other projects, such as Pinewood Social for the Strategic Hospitality owners, while Erik Anderson stayed on until the end of the year before moving to Minneapolis, where he plans to open a restaurant.

Chefs Shaun Doty and Lance Gummere established a second Bantam + Biddy (1050 Crescent Ave.) in January. The duo also own Bantam + Biddy in Ansley Mall and Chick-a-Biddy in Atlantic Station. 7 The Hilton Atlanta’s restaurant, Nikolai’s Roof, underwent a $1 million renovation and reopened in January with a new menu from chef Stephanie Alderete. • Bluefin shuttered November 30, with Octopus Bar chefs Nhan Le and Angus Brown planning on moving into the space with their seafood restaurant and raw bar, Lusca (1829 Peachtree Rd. NE), this spring.

Owners Tristan Simon and Tim Headington of Dallas-based Consilient Hospitality launched AF+B (2869 Crockett St., Fort Worth) in January. Jeff Harris, who recently served as exec chef of Bolsa in Dallas, is in charge of the kitchen.

Sarah Koechling replaced Amanda Rockman as pastry chef at Balena (1633 N. Halsted, Lincoln Park) and The Bristol (2152 N. Damen, Bucktown), arriving from Patina in L.A. Rockman left to take on sweets duty at Nico Osteria (1015 N. Rush St.), the new spot established by Paul Kahan of One Off Hospitality Group. He brought in Erling Wu-Bower from his Avec to be the exec chef there. • Owners of the Hot Woks Cool Sushi restaurants, husband and wife David and Lois Lee, launched Asian Outpost (1315 S. Wabash), featuring rustic Asian dishes from family recipes as well as from chef Pheeraphat Phisuthiarpha, who has worked at their other spots. • Chefs Nathan Sears and Adam Hebert and consulting partner Paul Virant teamed up to open the 167 seat Radler (2375 N. Milwaukee Ave.). Radler—German for cyclist—is a contemporary version of a German beer hall, furnished with tables and stools built by Hebert’s father. Virant is chef/owner of Vie and Perennial Virant. Sears was previously at Vie. Hebert will head up the bar program, which will showcase local, German, and Austrian craft beers and wines. • Founder/creator Oscar Farinetti launched the first Eataly, an Italian mega market, in Turin, Italy, in 2007. In 2010, Farinetti, along with Mario Batali, Joe and Lidia Bastianich, and brothers Adam and Alex Saper opened an Eataly in NYC. Now the team has opened in Chicago at 43 E. Ohio St. The restaurants in the complex include La Piazza, Il Pesce, La Carne, Le Verdure, La Pizza & La Pasta, Baffo, La Birreria, and Vino Libero, each with its own specialty, plus several cafes and bakeries featuring coffee, pastries, and gelato. Among the marketplace zones, one offers an expansive array of olive oils.

Toast (23144 Woodward Ave., Ferndale) took on two new staff members this winter, Steve Matthews as chef and Kat Dowdall as manager. Matthews most recently served as the morning sous chef at Café Muse in Royal Oak, and Dowdall last worked at Toast Birmingham.

David Burke Group launched David Burke Kitchen (515 Hopkins Ave., Aspen) in February, appointing Matthew O’Neill exec chef. He last served as exec chef of Ajax Tavern, located in the Little Nell hotel.

Block 16 Hospitality recently opened three new restaurants, all supervised by Anthony Meidenbauer, Block16 Hospitality corporate exec chef/director of culinary operations. Haute Doggery started business in December in The Strip’s new open-air retail, dining, and entertainment district—The Linq (on The Strip, between Flamingo and The Quad). The Blind Pig Provisions & Lounge (Panorama Towers, 4525 Dean Martin Drive) opened its doors in February, and Flour & Barley Brick Oven Pizza, also located in The Linq, was scheduled to begin serving this month.

Exec chef/partner Ernesto Uchimura creates the menu at the second Plan Check Kitchen + Bar (351 N. Fairfax Ave. L.A.), which opened in December. He has been corporate exec chef/partner of Umami Burger since 2009. Cocktail chef Matthew Biancaniello previously worked at the Library Bar in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. • Matthew and Terces Engelhart, owners of the vegan Café Gratitude food chain, established their first Southern California restaurant, Gracias Madre (8905 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood) in January. Exec chef Chandra Gilbert, from the San Francisco branch, helms the kitchen, and Jason Eisner, who was last at Drago Centro, runs the bar program. • Marlo Tornel, owner of the Cactus Taqueria taco stands, transformed the Starlite Room into Star Lite Cantina (11411 Moorpark St., Studio City) in December, keeping its dive-like atmosphere. Since his new Cactus Taqueria is next door, customers can get their snacks very conveniently.

Owners Massimiliano Conti and Lorella Degan of the family-run Sardinian restaurant La Ciccia launched La Nebbia (1781 Church St., San Francisco), a wine bar and snack spot, in December. Along with Conti, Victor Harvey, last at Padrecito, and Valerio Martorelli, from Farina Focaccia & Cucina Italiana, run the kitchen. • Michael Morrison, who began his tenure as exec sous chef at Ame in the St. Regis San Francisco alongside co-owners chef Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani in 2005, then left Ame in 2007 to lead Loretta Keller’s group of restaurants, returned to Ame as exec chef in December. • Jeff Lyon, former bar manager at Range, and Phil West, Range’s chef/owner, launched Third Rail (628 20th St., San Francisco) in December. Featuring a bar designed with elements of Old World train stations and dockyards, Third Rail is the second member of the Range restaurant family, which is owned and co-operated by Cameron and Phil West. The Third Rail is co-owned by West and Lyon. • Sommelier/owners Sarah Trubnick and Carolyn Johnson opened The Barrel Room restaurant and wine bar (5330 College Ave., Oakland). Exec chef Sam Paulding joined the pair after working at Paulding & Company in Emeryville, and Esteban Brunello came on board after serving as the wine director at Oliveto Restaurant & Café.

Owner/master baker Dominique Geulin of the bakery/cafe St. Honoré Boulangerie opened a second outpost (3333 SE Division St.) in December, featuring nine taps, most of them artisan ciders. • Chef Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon (738 E. Burnside St.) and Little Bird Bistro (219 SW Sixth Ave.) appointed Nora Antene, who served as pastry chef of Little Bird Bistro, to take charge of the Le Pigeon dessert program, and welcomed pastry chef Lauren Fortgang back to Little Bird Bistro as head pastry chef. Her assistant is Amelia Lane, former pastry chef of Olympic Provisions. • Chef Chris DiMinno left Clyde Common restaurant in January not for another dining spot but for the events branch of Chris King Precision Components, the bike company known for its chef rides during Feast Portland. During the food fest, which benefits Oregon’s hungry, chef/cyclists lead bike tours from dining spot to dining spot. • Chef/owner Kevin Gibson and partner, sommelier Kurt Heilemann, established Davenport (2215 E. Burnside). Gibson was previously at Evoe, and Heilemann was gm/sommelier at Paley’s Place.