Bird Braining

The loon is known for its forlorn calls and deep plunges into lake water in search of fish. The Loon is known for acrid tobacco mist, punchy drinks, pizzas and boob-tube-flicker lighting. It's also known for Alessio Franceschetti--or will be. Franceschetti is set to scupper his lengthy The Loon Bar & Grill stint to set up a trattoria: Alessio's Restaurant. "The time is right," Franceschetti says. "Dallas is moving real fast." Alessio's will reside on Bryan Street, one block from Jimmy's Food Store, in the space that once held the Vietnamese restaurant Pho Kim. At 70 seats, the restaurant will serve pizza, pasta, veal and sandwiches plus champagne brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Franceschetti has been traipsing across the Dallas landscape for decades, making prominent appearances at the defunct Eccolo on McKinney Avenue, Sambuca and Pomodoro/ Arcodoro after shuttering his restaurant Alessio's in 1999 after a 16-year run. Of course "loon" has other meanings. Keep those drinks punchy.

Amuse. This is the next venture for wunderchef Doug Brown as he moves beyond his Beyond the Box downtown gourmet market and take-out post. The former Nana, Melrose Hotel and Eatzi's chef is slipping Amuse near the Southside on Lamar lofts and retail complex. But first, let's get Beyond. In April, Brown plans to string a Beyond the Box tendril in the Premier Club fitness center near Mockingbird Station after an extensive redesign, essentially knocking out The Restaurant at Premier Club. "We're going to do a little grab-and-go in there," he says. But this is after Amuse, which opens this week. Brown has burrowed in the defunct Southside Grill, creating a 70-seat American bistro/bar featuring a "funky aluminum lounge" on the patio, 40 wines under $40 and an entertainment module starring an improbable cast: a DJ. Star Canyon vet Jose Vargas is chef de cuisine. Brown also plans to install a Beyond the Box market in the complex--at some point. "They're chomping at us to get one going," Brown says. "But we're only human."...This is torrid: James Slaughter is reopening Firehouse, the circa 1996 Lower Greenville restaurant that scorched its stripes plying global cuisine with blistering seasonings. Slaughter shut the place down two years ago with the intention of remodeling. Didn't happen. But the rescue includes original Firehouse chef Bruno Mella, who once had his own Deep Ellum spot called Mel's on Main (we once suffered a culinary calamity there) after he worked cuisine at Champagne and Gold Bar downtown. The Firehouse mission is to employ potent spices in place of creams and other fats to broaden flavors and, one presumes, put a dent in the national obesity statistics. Burn on.


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