Taco Break

Sometimes after searing acres of foie gras, you have to take a break and stuff a taco. Just ask George Papadopoulos. The much-lauded opening chef for millionaire Scott Ginsburg's Voltaire restaurant has just landed back in Dallas after an eight-month sojourn in New York City and Philadelphia to ink a deal with M Crowd and Restaurant Life chief Mico Rodriguez. The deal calls for Papadopoulos to consult on the operations of the M Crowd's 13 Mi Cocina restaurants. What does that mean? It means the former high-end dinner house chef will evaluate menus, train, analyze costs and help plan Taco Diner expansion. "I work for Mico right now. Whatever he says I do," Papadopolous demurs. Yet he still harbors the dream of opening his own restaurant. "Every chef wants his own restaurant. Or two or three or whatever," he admits. But for now, he seems content with the simplicity of his professional life. "I just take orders from Mico," he says.

After selling his Bistro K (soon to open as New York Bagel Café), the antsy Avner Samuel has landed at Lombardi Mare as executive chef. According to Samuel's spokesman (ya gotta get one sooner or later) Bill Armstrong, Samuel may radically alter the Lombardi Mare menu to reflect his style. He may also open a new restaurant soon. Then again, he may not...Oceanaire, a shrimp of a seafood restaurant chain out of Minneapolis, plans to open an extension in the Galleria the first of October, says Oceanaire President Terry Ryan. "Think of us as a power steak house with a seafood center," Ryan says. And while this may sound like a weird sort of meatloaf piñata, Ryan just means Oceanaire is dark and clubby and arms diners with bibs and crab crackers instead of sharp knives. At least I think that's what he means. Like a lot of restaurant companies striving to hold down costs and bolster management commitment, Oceanaire incorporates local partners to fill slots such as chef and general manager. The chef slot in Dallas will be filled by Brian Dietz, former executive chef at Newport's Seafood who has had stints at The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Café Pacific and Nicholini's Seafood Grill. With restaurants in Seattle, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., the Galleria installation will bring Oceanaire's holdings to four...Billed as Dallas' first paninoteca or Italian sandwich bar, Urbano Paninoteca, the offspring of former Sfuzzi (and Lombardi Mare) manager Mitch Kauffman, has opened off McKinney Avenue. The menu, created with input from former Sfuzzi chef Javier Perez, features an array of sandwiches, salads and breakfast items. Dinner will be offered in the coming weeks after Kauffman secures an Urbano liquor license, which should help wash down all that mortadella and sun-dried tomato pesto.