Making the rounds of tables around town: round, oblong, rectangular and square.
Let’s start downtown, where Il Fornaio (600 Pine St.) is featuring the region of Umbria for two weeks. “The green heart of Italy,” they call it: terrific olive oil, porcini mushrooms, black truffles, lots of leafy vegetables.
Monsoon (615 19th Ave. E.) will ring in the Vietnamese New Year with food specials and festivities. Look for sticky rice wraps, a classic snack during the holiday period.
Bastille (5307 Ballard Ave. N.W.) is prepared to meet your mood, on Valentine’s Day or afterwards. Bar manager Erik Carlson has created distinctive cocktails, wine director James Lechner has carefully chosen a few unique bubblies and chef Jason Stoneburner has come up with a spectacular mollusk-centric menu.
Remember the song, “The Girl from Ipanema”? Remember the restaurant, Ipanema Grill? It was a rodizio-style Brazilian steakhouse in Harbor Steps, and now it’s back in Belltown as The Grill from Ipanema (2313 First Ave.). Marco Cazas-Beau is the owner, with longtime Belltown barman Alberto Meza heading up “Team Caipirinha,” in the space most recently occupied by two nightclubs, Twist and Mestizo.
Across the street, in the former Bisato space (2400 First Ave.), where Scott Carsberg produced his finely detailed, expertly crafted Italian plates, comes Michael Forte of Capitol Hill’s The Lookout Bar & Grill. No name yet, but Forte is no relation to Giuseppe Forte, the Italian gent who owns La Vita è Bella, just around the corner.
Look for Boulangerie Nantaise (2507 Fourth Ave.) to reopen shortly under new ownership. Jean-Yves Fouché tells me he’s sold a majority interest in the business to a well-known baker in France named Michel Galloyer, who owns a chain of bakeries called Le Grenier à Pain (literally, the “bread attic”). No name yet for the new café, but I suggest “Belltown Baguette.”
There’s a new chef at Henry & Oscar’s (2525 Fourth Ave.): Remi DuBois, who worked for Ritz Carleton, the Salish Lodge and Bis on Main. He replaces Phil Collins.
Brian Cartenuto, last seen in Seattle at Wallingford’s Cantinetta, has returned to town to cook at Local 360 (2234 First Ave.) in Belltown.
C.S. Finnegan’s (2604 First Ave.), an offshoot of West Seattle’s Celtic Swell, has shuttered.
And speaking of West Seattle: Jeff Fike, who’s been biding his time in the catering biz, is expected to reopen his beloved restaurant, Cassis, along Alki.
South Lake Union’s Cafe Venus (609 Eastlake Ave. E.) has closed.
Down in SODO, Urban Enoteca (4130 First Ave. S.) is no longer open for public tastings; it’s now a private-event venue.
In Pioneer Square: Coming soon is a new Italian spot called Tinello (314 Second Ave. S). One of the owners is David Hahne, the tall drink of water you might remember from Laurelhurst’s short-lived Enotria.
Also coming: Matt Dillon’s new Bar Sajor (323 Occidental Ave. S).
Al Calozzi, meanwhile, has left Pioneer Square for Rainier Square, where he’s still dishing up Philly cheesesteaks.
Meantime, two standout places you should keep in mind: Thai Curry Simple (Fifth Avenue South and South Jackson Street) and Il Corvo (Third Avenue and James Street).
In Ballard: After being closed for a couple of months for a complete remodel, Ray’s Boathouse at Shilshole (6049 Seaview Ave. N.W.) will open again by the time this hits the newsstand.
Coming to Greenwood: Perryn Wright of Cicchetti intends to open a restaurant of his own. No hard feelings; the folks on Eastlake gave him a big sendoff.
On Capitol Hill: Ethan Stowell’s empire-building continues apace. Next door to Anchovies & Olives is Bar Cotto (1515 15th Ave.), an Italian salumeria. Zack Chambers will run both places.
In citywide news
The Seattle Underground Market, which started with a flourish over the summer, is giving up the ghost. The organizer, a woman from Atlanta, expressed disappointment at the lack of support for her project, which she claimed was designed to bring wannabe chefs to the attention of the local food community.
But she never mastered the relatively simple business of sending e-mails to a large group of readers. And she never even attempted to get the proper health department permits for a business that serves food to the public.
On the other hand, the Mobile Food Rodeo will take place in early May, and there are plans for a mid-August Street Food Festival.
RONALD HOLDEN is a restaurant writer and consultant who blogs at Cornichon.org and Crosscut.com. To comment on this column, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.