Monica's Aca Y Alla can be called a lot of things. But hell? Yet that's how owner Monica Greene describes it, as she attempts to compare the new soundproof room she plans to open in August in a former furniture store next to the restaurant. She calls the room Raziel, named after an archangel that legend has it was the keeper of God's secrets (he supposedly passed his book of secrets on to Adam and Eve after the pair fiddled with a snake and discovered to their horror that they were buck naked). "If you can imagine Monica's...being hell, the little room you're going to have to go through to enter there will be purgatory, and by the time you get to the other side, it's going to be heaven," Greene says. This could be the only culinary version of a near (or maybe full) death experience in Dallas, maybe the world. Raziel will be dressed in angelic white with a decidedly upscale demeanor, a spot to spiritually meditate on Monica's Aca Y Alla fare without the hellish Deep Ellum noise. It will be dead quiet. Which Greene herself hasn't been as of late. She's just opened Pegaso, a Mexican cafe and taqueria that serves breakfast and lunch and brunch and dinner--maybe. Greene says she's holding off on the dinner part until the Davis Building opens nearby (October) and she can gauge the viability of downtown as a solid dining destination (as well as secure a liquor license). Once that is nailed down, she plans to spread Pegaso across the metroplex, opening three more units within the next two years, the second of which she plans to open in February 2004, maybe in Grapevine, to serve all meals all the time. "I'm a greedy Mexican," she says. "I want to open seven days a week." What the hell?
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After a couple of bold but failed plays for the defunct Fishbowl and Star Canyon restaurants, Sfuzzi alumni Michael Costa and his Blue Water Restaurant Group (backed by broadband gadget mogul Mark Floyd) finally got a grip on a spot--one he's had before. Costa is slipping into the eccolo space on McKinney Avenue, which at one time was Toscana, a restaurant operated by the defunct Foodstar Restaurant Group. Costa was a key player in Foodstar before it listed. And he plans to split the space in two, opening a casual but hip wine bar on one side in August, followed by an Italian restaurant in September. "It will be half a step down from Toscana," he says of the menu price points. He also says he has contacted former Toscana chef and Suze owner Gilbert Garza for help on menu development.