Pulp Dining

Though he won't reveal--on the record at least--the reasons for the fracture, Peter Tarantino has severed his ties with Anthony Bermea's Caribbean Red, where Tarantino was general manager, after just a few weeks. "I did my job. We did our stunt. And now I'm gone," he says with uncharacteristic succinctness. Tarantino adds that he's ready to break with the restaurant business entirely. Well, maybe not entirely. He's laying the groundwork for another new restaurant. Maybe being a restaurateur is in his blood, or in his name, or maybe he's just out of his mind. But his new venture, which he describes as a full-scale, 100 percent Spanish restaurant, will be called La Villa Tarantino. It will include a sushi-style tapas bar with tapas ingredients exhibited in refrigerated display cases. "But it's going to be more than just a few pieces of shrimp in some oil and a loaf of bread," he promises. Tarantino adds that he's going to attempt to pull every sausage and cheese available from Spain for his new restaurant. Tarantino describes his first restaurant, which was across from Fair Park, as an offbeat, low-budget, aggressive affair. He promises this new foray, which he expects to open in September 2001, will be bigger and flashier. "The first Tarantino's was Reservoir Dogs," he says, comparing it to filmmaker Quentin Tarantino's breakout flick. "The next Tarantino's is going to be Pulp Fiction." God help our palates.

Mixed hash: Mattito's owner Jeff Frankel has scaled back his ambitions a bit. After buying out his partners last February, Frankel shoved Mattito's and Ay Carumba into a new corporate umbrella called We8it Food Group. Frankel hoped to sow his restaurateuring wild oats by using Ay Carumba as a prototype for expansion, but labor and staffing problems dumped sand in Ay Carumba, located in the former Joshelé space in Plano, forcing him to shutter the restaurant last week. "The dollars and cents just didn't make sense," he says. "Plano is the toughest labor market we've ever operated in." So Frankel is putting most of his eggs into Mattito's, which recently moved from Oak Lawn to the former Routh Street Brewery location just off Cedar Springs. Frankel is even entertaining the idea of putting his Addison Mattito's restaurant on the block to allow him to focus on the Dallas location. Why is Frankel backing away from the ambitious plans he embraced just a few months ago? He gives a boilerplate answer often used by politicians: "I've changed my mind. I'm enjoying parenthood just a little bit more than I'm enjoying being a restaurateur."...Chris Ward, who is charging up The Restaurant Life, the M Crowd division nurturing The Mercury, Citizen, and Ellington's Chop House, has appointed onetime Star Canyon/AquaKnox general manager George Majdalani as the division's director of operations.

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Mark Stuertz
Contact: Mark Stuertz