We're mostly hostile to Dallas versions of Italian cuisine. It's all so...Stouffer's. But we had sappy soft spots for Rick Robbins of the slowly bled Eccolo and Kevin Ascolese, who turned fine Tuscan tricks at Mi Piaci and the euthanized Salve! He later found himself in the kitchen of Ferré Ristorante after opening chef Nicola Chessa decamped nearly three years ago. Now Ascolese has absconded. "I think he got a little tired of the kitchen for a while, and I think he just needed to have a break," says Ferré owner Patrick Colombo. The fatigue seems to have set in when Colombo and Ascolese, the latter still a limited partner in Ferré, began discussing the direction the restaurant needed to go in 2005. That vision thing tends to ruffle the discords. Paul Singhapong, chef at Colombo's Crú Wine Bar next door in the West Village, will grapple with the vacated stove until Colombo can locate a replacement who can strike just the right fennel pitch in the sausage.
Standard snafu: We erred when we described (November 25) chef Tim Byres' role in the newly reconstituted Standard as a salaried profit-sharing cook. Byres says he will be a full business partner with financial backer Mike Chen when the resuscitated restaurant opens in the former Stolik space in February. "It's still going to be Standard," he says. "It's still going to have that independent kind of owner-operated chef-driven situation like we had before." Byres says he and Chen will be merging their respective companies, a move that will bring Standard partner Carl Strelecki in as general manager, replacing Stolik GM Erika Ramelli, who has been shuffled over to Chen's restaurant Steel. Stolik Executive Chef Francisco Mendonca is out... Tia's Tex-Mex restaurant, a 23-unit Dallas chain with spots in Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Maryland and Virginia, has shut down its Richardson location on Spring Valley Road after its lease was lost. "It was an economic decision," said Tia's President Jerry Green in a prepared statement. "When we lost our lease, closing was the logical next step."... Drink this: Founded by a veterinarian in an Oakland, California, Prohibition-era speakeasy, Rosenblum Cellars has long been an apostate winery, dabbling in the vagaries of zinfandel. The 2002 Redwood Valley Zinfandel, Annettes Reserve ($28) is rich in dark berries, tobacco and hints of polyvinyl balloon goo--the stuff you squeeze from a tube and inflate with a straw. The 2002 Santa Barbara County Syrah, Fess Parker Vineyard ($22) is equally luscious with blackberry, raspberry and smoky pepper tethered to a little smoke. Grab both at www.rosenblumcellars.com.