Tuesday, May 29, 2007

JoJo's Makes Top 10 Diners List

Bon Appetit magazine's June 2007 issue runs Roadfood authors Jane and Michael Stern's list of America's top 10 diners. Writes the Sterns, "Diners used to be thought of as greasy spoons with dubious night-owl clientele — a reputation earned a hundred years ago when the first ones were established in decommissioned trolley cars in rough urban areas of the Northeast. But when indoor plumbing was introduced in the 1930s, they cleaned up their act and became known as a source of good square meals. As American as apple pie, the diner is one of our country's unique contributions to the world's culinary culture. Here is our honor roll of 10 primo diners where the food is good, prices are low, and the atmosphere is blue-plate bliss: Avalon Diner, Houston; Becky's Diner, Portland, ME; Blue Benn Diner, Bennington, VT; Connelly's Goody Goody Diner, St. Louis; Dutch Kitchen, Frackville, PA; JoJo's, Pittsburgh; Mickey's Dining Car, St. Paul; O'Rourke's, Middletown, CT; Summerton Diner, Summerton, SC; Wasp's Snack Bar, Woodstock, VT.

IN THE NEWS: Pittsburgh Business Times reports, "The former COO of the world's largest pizza chain, Jerry Buss, sounds ready to plunge his fingers into some fresh dough. After a brief retirement, Buss, a 30-year veteran of Pizza Hut's executive ranks, and his family are relocating from Dallas to Pittsburgh where, in a single acquisition his Seven Fields-based Aurora Huts LLC became one of the largest pizza restaurant operators in the region. In late March, Aurora Huts bought 53 Pittsburgh-area Pizza Hut locations from Pizza Hut's corporate parent, which had been operating the restaurants for more than 20 years. Now, Buss has aggressive plans to establish the franchise as a family-run business, with his three children all playing leadership roles. A first order of business for the Buffalo, N.Y., native is to renovate and modernize the Pizza Hut locations." ... The Tribune-Review's Karin Welzel visits Rizzo's Malabar Inn Italian Restaurant (Route 119, Crabtree in Westmoreland County), while Mark Howser reviews Sharp Edge Bistro (510 Beaver St., Sewickley). pittsburghlive.com ... The Post-Gazette's Munch column stops by Cuzamil Restaurante Mexicano (2109 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill). post-gazette.com ... City Paper's Angelique Bamberg and Jason Roth review Seviche (930 Penn Ave., Downtown). pittsburghcitypaper.ws ... EatItAndLoveIt.com visits Bahama Breeze (6100 Robinson Center Drive) and Mexi-Casa (3001 West Liberty Ave). ... Blogger Pittsburgh Dish pittsburghdish.typepad.com reports that construction is due to begin soon for East Ohio Street's Bistro to Go, to be operated by local caterer Nikki Heckman.

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Monday, May 21, 2007

Dee's Cafe on Esquire List; Laforet Closing

Esquire magazine's second annual Best Bars of America list is out in the June 2007 issue. They include:

Lou's Pub & Package, Birmingham, Ala.; J Lounge, Golden Gopher, The Edison, The Broadway Bar, La Cita, Bordello, Redwood, and Bar 107, Los Angeles; Musso & Frank Grill, Hollywood, Calif.; The Polo Lounge, Beverly Hills; Beach Ball, Newport Beach, Calif.; Brennan's Pub, Marina Del Ray, Calif.; Bourbon & Branch, The Owl Tree, Vesuvio, and Zeitgeist, San Francisco; The Sportsman, Sonora, Calif.; Cruise Room, and El Chapultepec, Denver; Jimbo's, and Churchill's Pub, Miami; The Clermont Lounge, Atlanta; Lewers Lounge at the Halekulani Hotel, and La Mariana Sailing Club, Honolulu; The California Clipper, The Red Lion Pub, Bungalow, The Matchbox, Hideout, and Chipp Inn, Chicago; The Red Key, and Nicky Blaine's, Indianapolis; The Old Seelbach Bar, Louisville; The Chart Room, The Bar at Tujague's, Fritzel's European Jazz Pub, and Napoleon House, New Orleans; The Brewer's Art, and Shamrock Inn, Baltimore; B-Side Lounge, Cambridge, Mass.; No. 9 Park, Boston; Doyle's Cafe, Jamaica Plain, Mass.; The Bar at Seldom Blues, Detroit; Miller's Bar, Dearborn, Mich.; Bulldog NE, and Nye's Polonaise Room, Minneapolis; Half Time Rec, St. Paul; John D. McGurk's, St. Louis; Any bar on the Strip, Double Down Saloon, and Petrossian Bar, Las Vegas; Bemelmans Bar in the Carlyle Hotel, Little Branch, The Bar at Keens Steakhouse, Minetta Tavern, Jimmy's Corner, The Angel's Share, The Brooklyn Inn, The Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel, Flatiron Lounge, The Saloon, San Domenico Restaurant, Spuyten Duyvil, 21 Club, Grassroots Tavern, Bill's Gay 90s, Julius', and Pegu Club, New York City; Freddy's Bar & Backroom, Brooklyn; Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, Queens; Thomas Street Tavern, Charlotte, NC; Andyman's Treehouse, Columbus, Ohio; The Library Bar & Grill, Norman, Okla.; Friendly Lounge, The Grey Lodge, and Southwark, Philadelphia; Dee's Cafe, Pittsburgh; Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, and Robert's Western World, Nashville; La Tuna, San Antonio; Donn's Depot, Austin; The Inwood Lounge, Dallas; Shooting Star Saloon, Huntsville, Utah; Sambar, Zig Zag Cafe, and Fu Kun Wu, Seattle; Hawk 'n' Dove, and The Tune Inn, Washington, DC; Holler House, Milwaukee.

IN THE NEWS: Pittsburgh Business Times reports, "Laforêt, long one of Pittsburgh's best restaurants, is closing in July (July 14). Owners Michael and Robert Uricchio have sold the Highland Park restaurant to Joseph Tambellini, the executive chef at Franco's Trattoria in Dormont, who expects to reopen the restaurant as a new Italian concept. For more than 10 years, Laforet garnered a strong reputation for its contemporary French cuisine. It was named the city's best restaurant by Pittsburgh magazine and was recognized by national publications Gourmet and Wine Spectator." ... The Post-Gazette also weighs in on Laforet's impending shuttering and announces dining critic Elizabeth Downer's departure from the beat to concentrate on her wine column. ... The Munch column visits Remedy (5121 Butler St., Lawrenceville). post-gazette.com ... Karin Welzel of the Tribune-Review pittsburghlive.com reviews Casbah Mediterranean Kitchen & Wine Bar (229 S. Highland Ave. in Shadyside), while Michael Machosky visits McFadden's Restaurant and Saloon (211 North Shore Drive, North Side) and Sally A. Quinn stops by Mojo Bistro (172 Lincoln Ave., Bellevue) .

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Monday, May 14, 2007

America's Best Restaurant Cities

"Today ... most major cities in the U.S. have the kind of gastronomic diversity and regionality that is rich in every department, and even if you’ve visited recently, you can be sure that next time you go, there’ll be more new and enticing restaurants than you could possibly visit," writes Donald Burnam in a recent ForbesTraveler.com piece, "America's Best Restaurant Cities." "It’s getting hard not to have a great meal anywhere in the U.S.." Burnam continues.

Forbes' Top 10 Restaurant Cities:
1. New York City
2. Chicago
3. San Francisco
4. Los Angeles
5. New Orleans
6. Houston
7. Washington, D.C.
8. Atlanta
9. Boston
10. Las Vegas

Rankings were based on: Overall number of restaurants above the fast food level; Number of fine dining restaurants with national and international standing; Solid representation of regional American food; A wide segment of second-tier restaurants that would include seafood, steakhouses, and independently chef-owned restaurants; Breadth and depth of ethnic restaurants, especially if the city has neighborhood such as a Chinatown; A significant number of neigborhood restaurants where the locals tend to eat out regularly; A well-traveled clientele that regards eating out in that city one of the real pleasures of going there.

IN THE NEWS: The Post-Gazette's Elizabeth Downer looks at BYOB restaurants Orchids and Cafe Zinho. ... The paper The Munch column visits Little Tokyo (636 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon) and reports that Eric Fisher of Jimmy G's in Sharpsburg is the winner of the Simon SuperChef trophy and title of "Simon SuperChef Pittsburgh." post-gazette.com ... The Tribune-Review stops by Sushi Too, 5432 Walnut St. in Shadyside. pittsburghlive.com ... Pittsburgh City Paper gives two stars to Pho Kim 88, 4100 Library Road (Route 88) in Castle Shannon. pittsburghcitypaper.ws ... Blogger Eatitandloveit.com reviews D’s Six Packs and Dogs (4320 Northern Pike in Monroeville) and Fajita Grill (5865 Ellsworth Ave. in Pittsburgh).
Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Primanti Brothers Honored at Beard Awards

Chicago's Frontera Grill won Outstanding Restaurant of the Year and Michel Richard of Michel Richard Citronelle in Washington, D.C. was named Outstanding Chef at the 2007 James Beard Foundation Awards Ceremony. Hosted by CBS Early Show anchor Hannah Storm, the Beard Awards were held May 7 at Avery Fisher Hall in New York's Lincoln Center. More than 60 awards were presented by the country's pre-eminent nonprofit culinary organization, in its 20th anniversary celebration, and more than 1,600 industry leaders attended the ceremony. Other top awards went to: New York's L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, named Best New Restaurant; Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Yountville, Ca.) received the award for Outstanding Restaurateur; and David Chang (Momofuku Noodle Bar, New York) received the Rising Star Chef of the Year award. Celebrity and culinary superstar attendees included Stephanie March, Ted Allen, Katie Lee Joel, Martha Stewart, Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Thomas Keller, Jose Andres, Tom Colicchio, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Padma Lakshmi, and Marcus Samuelsson. The Foundation's Media Awards took place at a separate event at the Hudson Theatre at Millennium Broadway Hotel on May 6. All Award winners received a bronze medallion etched with the image of the late James Beard, the esteemed chef, cookbook author, and food journalist. There are no cash awards. Established in 1990, the James Beard Foundation Awards recognizes outstanding achievement within the fine food and beverage industry in North America. For full awards results, please visit http://www.jamesbeard.org.

Beard Award highlights are:

AMERICA'S CLASSICS: Primanti Brothers, Demetrios Patrinos, Pittsburgh, Pa.; The Pickwick, Christopher Wisocki, Duluth, Minn.; Doe's Eat Place, The Signa Family, Greenville, Miss.; Aunt Carrie's, Elsie Foy, Narragansett, R.I.; I

Brookville Hotel, Mark and Connie Martin, Abilene, Kan.; Weaver D's, Dexter Weaver, Athens, Ga.

BEST CHEF, GREAT LAKES: Grant Achatz, Alinea, Chicago

BEST CHEF, MID-ATLANTIC: R.J. Cooper, III, Vidalia, Washington, DC

BEST CHEF, MIDWEST: Celina Tio, The American Restaurant, Kansas City, Mo.

BEST CHEF, NEW YORK CITY: David Waltuck, Chanterelle, New York, NY

BEST CHEF, NORTHEAST: Frank McClelland, L'Espalier, Boston

BEST CHEF, NORTHWEST: John Sundstrom, Lark, Seattle

BEST CHEF, PACIFIC: Traci Des Jardins, Jardinière, San Francisco

BEST CHEF, SOUTH: Donald Link, Herbsaint, New Orleans

BEST CHEF, SOUTHEAST: Scott Peacock, Watershed, Decatur, Ga.

BEST CHEF, SOUTHWEST: Nobuo Fukuda, Sea Saw, Scottsdale, Ariz.

BEST NEW RESTAURANT: L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Chef-Owner: Joël Robuchon, New York, NY

OUTSTANDING CHEF: Michel Richard, Michel Richard Citronelle, Washington, DC

OUTSTANDING PASTRY CHEF: Michael Laskonis, Le Bernardin, New York, NY

OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT: Frontera Grill, chef-owner: Rick and Deann Bayless, Chicago

OUTSTANDING RESTAURATEUR: Thomas Keller, The French Laundry, Yountville, Calif.

OUTSTANDING SERVICE: Rick Tramonto, Gale Gand, and Richard Melman, Tru, Chicago

OUTSTANDING WINE AND SPIRITS PROFESSIONAL: Paul Draper, Ridge Vineyards, Cupertino, Calif.

OUTSTANDING WINE SERVICE: Mark Slater, Michel Richard Citronelle, Washington, DC

RISING STAR CHEF OF THE YEAR: David Chang, Momofuku Noodle Bar, New York, NY



IN THE NEWS: After years of advertising on local cable television and months of establishing franchise operators, Sonic has committed to its first Pittsburgh-area location, Pittsburgh Business Times reports. The Oklahoma-based drive-through restaurant chain announced that it will open at the Village at Pittsburgh Mills in Frazer Township. ... The paper also reports that the smoking ban in Allegheny County bars and restaurants has been snuffed again, at least temporarily. A state appellate court on May 1 issued a stay on the smoking ban, Allegheny County Solicitor Michael Wojcik said. The ban on smoking took effect at midnight April 30 when Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Michael A. Della Vecchia declined to extend an injunction he issued in January that delayed its implementation. But Commonwealth Court Judge James Gardner Collins effectively overruled Della Vecchia when he granted a request for a temporary injunction. Wojcik said the injunction request was filed by an attorney for Mitchell's Restaurant and Bar and the Smithfield Cafe, the restaurants that filed the original suit. The stay will be in place indefinitely, Wojcik said. ... Post-Gazette critic Elizabeth Downer awards three stars in her review of Seviche, 930 Penn Ave. in the Cultural District, while the Munch column visits Famous Dave's barbecue ... The Post-Gazette's Torsten Ove writes a worthy obituary of Josephine Giaramita, the owner of La Tavola Italiana (The Italian Table) restaurant on Mount Washington. ... Luis Fabregas of the Tribune-Review critiques downtown's Original Fish Market, 1000 Penn Avenue, at the Westin Convention Center Hotel -- as does Pittsburgh magazine -- while the Tribune-Review's Michael Machosky reviews Orchids International Vegetarian Restaurant, 4519 Centre Ave. in Oakland ... Pittsburgh City Paper considers Sewickley Speakeasy, 17 Ohio River Blvd. in Sewickley.

Compiled by Pat Embry, WhereTheLocalsEat.com