Spanish Eye

Peter Tarantino, who has been wandering around the Dallas restaurant scape (Flying Saucer, Caribbean Red, eccolo Ristorante and enoteca) since his Tarantino's restaurant near Fair Park succumbed to plumbing offal some 18 months ago, says he will be the first tenant to go into the Davis Building on Main Street. That circa 1926, 20-story structure is undergoing a $36 million renovation that will outfit it with lofts, retail space and, as it stands now, a Tarantino restaurant. In the ground floor of this codger of a skyscraper, Tarantino and his brother Patrick plan to create a Spanish restaurant called Cava (Spanish for "cellar"). "We're not trying to be a small little tapas bar with a two-page menu," Tarantino insists. "We're going all out." Which means the restaurant will feature a huge tapas bar with deli cases that will display cold foods such as wheels of cheese, Spanish olives, meats and a few dead fish. All out also means that Cava will have a hip subterranean lounge tucked in a vault once used for valuables when the building was headquarters for Republic National Bank. Tarantino says he has been making ends meet as of late by teaching beverage classes at the Art Institute of Dallas. So he's been throwing himself and his beverage know-how into the liquid part of Cava by gathering wines as well as sherries and ports from Spain and Portugal. "I've always been amazed that no one has ever tried to really go forth and provide just about everything you can from Spain," he says.

Contractor and metal sculptor Santiago Peña, who outfitted the interiors of Star Canyon and the defunct AquaKnox, has taken over the Routh Street building that most recently housed Enigma. Peña says he bought the building after Enigma operator Bob Bablu left the property that was once home to Routh Street Cafe. He plans to reopen it as Peña's, a restaurant serving Italian and Spanish cuisine...Alessio Franceschetti has severed his ties to eccolo Ristorante and enoteca, where he was front-of-the-house manager since the restaurant opened early last year. Franceschetti is currently doing a stint at The Loon on McKinney Avenue and says he will execute his next move in some six months...The still frenetically ambulant Steven Occhipinti, who was last seen as manager of restaurant operations at Voltaire, is back at Gershwin's, where he was front man late last year after the restaurant was taken over by chef Gaspar Stantic. Occhipinti didn't indicate where he might go next, but don't blink...The Melrose Hotel just announced that Doug Brown, who carved his reputation at Nana Grill in the Windham Anatole, is the hotel's new executive chef where he'll sling hash for the Landmark Restaurant and Library Bar. It also mentions that Brown is grunting for an M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Dallas. Maybe he needs something to fall back on.


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