Category Archives: Italian food

Bocconcini lives again at Bocco Deli

Nathan Toubia closed his delicious Bocconcini Italian Eatery at 4811 E. Central in August, and it was a sad day for fans of Italian food.

But some of Bocconcini’s recipes are being revived at Toubia’s other surviving restaurant — Bocco Deli at 3010 E. Central.

That restaurant is a lunch-only place, but on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, Toubia is opening it up for dinner, serving many of his Bocconcini favorites.

Each weekend, he plans to set a multi-course menu, with two choices for each course. The courses will be sold a la carte, so diners can pick and choose what they want.  Last week, Toubia included on the menu Bocconcini’s famous frico appetizer, which features fried cheese filled with leeks, potatoes and sausage. Other choices included potato leek ravioli and pork and mushroom ragu. This weekend, he plans to include butternut squash ravioli.

Toubia will skip this Thursday becuase of Halloween but will serve dinner on Friday and Saturday. Each week, the dinner will start at 6:30 p.m., and he’s requiring reservations.

To make one, call 316-558-8412 and leave a message. Watch for the menus on Bocco Deli’s Facebook page.

Luciano’s is expanding, adding deli

Luciano Mottola

Luciano’s, a popular Italian restaurant at 216 W. Main St. in Mulvane, is growing.

Owner Luciano Mottola broke ground a few weeks ago on a remodeling that will result in more seating, a new covered patio and a deli selling items such as pastas, desserts and specialty mozzarella, prosciutto and mortadella imported from Italy.

The deli is going where the open kitchen is now, and a new, larger kitchen will be added behind it. Customers still will be able to see into the kitchen.

He’s also adding a gelato machine and an espresso machine. Mottola hopes to have a grand re-opening in December to show off the expansion.

In the meantime, the restaurant is operating as normal around the construction. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays but is closed on Tuesdays.

For more information, call 316-777-0045.

Nathan Toubia closes Bocconcini Italian Eatery

It’s a sad day for fans of pillowy ravioli and pork saltimbocca.

Nathan Toubia has closed is Bocconcini Italian Eatery at 4811 E. Central. He plans to keep his Bocco Deli open at 3010 E. Central and focus his energy there.

Toubia, the son of Latour founder Antoine Toubia, opened Bocconcini in August of 2011, and it was instantly popular with foodies. 

On Labor Day weekend of last year, Toubia suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle accident. Since then, he said, he’s struggled personally and financially.

In June, Toubia cut out his weekday lunch hours. Though business had picked back up recently, he still had to make the hard decision, he said.

“I hate to see it go, but also, for me personally, I need to be balanced,” he said. “I think it’s bette r to cut ties and focus more on the deli.”

Bravos changes name, avoids lawsuit

Bravos, the delicious downtown Italian restaurant I reviewed earlier this year, isn’t Bravos any more.

The restaurant was notified recently that it was being sued by big Italian chain Bravo Cucina Italiana because it was using a name that was already taken.

Rather than going to battle with a corporate giant, said Lita Zendeli, daughter of owner Kas Zendeli, the restaurant agreed to change its name, and the lawsuit was dropped.

The new name is Pasta Piazza Italian Restaurant, a name suggested by a loyal customer. The Zendelis are working on changing signage and labeling on the menus and expects to have the name transition complete within a month.

The restaurant also is changing its hours. Customers had requested that the restaurant open on Sundays, particularly with Music Theatre of Wichita season underway, so now, Pasta Piazza will be open on Sundays and closed on Mondays. The new hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 am. to 8 p.m. Sundays.

For more information, call 316-440-3359.

Celeb chef Josh Marks at Ciao tonight, Thursday

First Fabio. Now this?

Another celebrity chef is making a stop in Wichita this week. Josh Marks, who finished second on the third season of Fox’s show “MasterChef, is in town right now and cooking at Ciao Italian Kitchen, 1720 N. Webb Road.

Marks, a 7-footer who played basketball in college, will be at a meet-and-greet from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight at the restaurant. Then, on Thursday, he’ll cook a four-course fundraising dinner that costs $70 a person. Spots are still available for that dinner and can be claimed by calling 316-613-2426 .

The restaurant will only be serving the four-course meal from 7 to 9 p.m. It will raise money for the Make a Sound project, a suicide-prevention program that Marks supports.

A sneak peek at Siena Tuscan Steakhouse

Every time I’ve driven past the under-construction Ambassador Hotel at Douglas and Broadway over the past few months, I’ve wondered what’s going on behind the paper in the windows.

This afternoon, Marshall Roth, the executive chef at the hotel’s Siena Tuscan Steakhouse, offered to show me.

He gave me a tour first of the 14th floor “Rock Star” suite (amazing), followed by a look at some of the more standard guest rooms plus the hotel’s new banquet and meeting rooms.

Chef Marshall Roth tests out a just-installed banquette in the bar of the about-to-open Siena Tuscan Steakhouse inside the Ambassador Hotel.

We finished the tour at the almost-complete restaurant, where workers were busy putting together bar tables, rolling in new banquette seating and unpacking dishes in the shiny and sparkly kitchen. The dining room is classy and comfortable, with a black/red/grey color scheme. It seats 60, and the bar has another 35 seats.

The plates, bowls, platters and more were the most exciting part for Roth, who said that opening the boxes was like Christmas for him. He spent weeks choosing exactly the right silverware and German made-dishware he wanted. The ones he chose, he said, will give guests a feeling of quality and luxury as soon as they sit down.

Chairs waiting to find their spots inside Siena Tuscan Steakhouse.

He also let me peruse the menu he’s working on, which won’t be set until he does final-stage recipe testing and VIP tastings during the next several weeks. At the moment, it contains several interesting dishes, such as a panzanella salad, first-course pasta dishes such as mushroom risotto, several steaks, a pork osso bucco dish, a seafood stew known as cioppino, and “duck fat fries,” which are French fries cooked in duck fat.

Chef Roth’s beloved German clay dishes, which just arrived.

The restaurant will have a “soft opening” after Christmas, which is for invited guests. Then, it’ll be used as part of the hotel’s grand opening New Year’s Eve event. It should be open for regular service to the public on Jan. 1, Roth said.

Siena Tuscan Steakhouse will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. I’ll update you as construction gets closer to complete.

Westside Ciao’s delay is Sandy’s fault

Initially, owners of Ciao Italian Kitchen – the Italian restaurant whose first location opened last October at 1720 N. Webb — hoped to have the westside counterpart opened by this coming Monday.

But because of Hurricane Sandy, the delivery of some key equipment the restaurant needs has been delayed, a manager said. The new projected opening date is Nov. 19.

The second Ciao is going into the space vacated when Tommy’s closed in April. It had recently been updated, with new carpet and more, so the restaurant didn’t need much remodeling.

The new Ciao will be open for lunch and dinner will offer the same menu as the eastside Ciao. It specializes in large portions of pasta dishes plus pizza, stromboli and more.

I’ll keep you updated on the opening.

Nathan Toubia on the mend, back at work

It’s been more than six weeks since the Labor Day weekend motorcycle accident that seriously injured Bocconcini Italian Eatery chef and owner Nathan Toubia and his manager/friend Abby Brookshire.

Both are on the mend, and Nathan — who broke both ankles, crushed his pelvis, and fractured his legs in the accident — is back on his feet. Though he’s on crutches and moving slowly, he’s been able to return to the restaurant in a limited capacity. He expedited service last weekend, and he’ll also be helping with prep work at Sunday’s wine dinner at Bocconcini. (You can see the menu below.)

I ran into Nathan at Dillons last night, and he looked good. He won’t be able to put weight on his right leg until early November but says he has “every intention of showing my face as long as the pain is tolerable.”

Abby, meanwhile, also is making progress, according to a Facebook page set up and maintained by her family called “Love for Abby.” She’s also back on her feet and has returned home to Texas with her family to continue her rehab.

Bocconcini’s next wine dinner is at 6 p.m. Sunday and costs $65 a person. Nathan has created a fabulous fall menu that includes lamb shank, apple crumble and something called “wedding pillow ravioli.” Keep reading for the menu. Reservations can be made by calling 316-613-2523.

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A new Italian restaurant for downtown

Bravos opened late last week at 217 E. Douglas.

Downtown workers and dwellers can now partake in Italian feasts with relative ease.

Bravos opened Thursday in the space at 217 E. Douglas, which has been occupied in recent years by a long string of restaurants, including Holy land Mediterranean Grill, Onyx Bistro and DK Kitchen.

Owner Kas Zendeli recently closed his Bravo’s Italiani in Valley Center. He previously owned Italian Bistro, which was open for just a few months last year at Market Centre, First and Market downtown.

The menu includes pastas, pizzas, hot subs, chicken dishes and more. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Zendeli is working on getting a liquor license but it could take several weeks. Once he gets it, Bravos will offer wine and beer. Daily lunch specials will be offered soon, too.

For more information, call 316-440-3359.

An update on Angelo’s planned reopening

Jack Fasciano with one of his amazing pizza

Several readers have written me lately to ask about the progress on the reopening of Angelo’s, the onetime popular Italian restaurant that closed in 2006

In June, Jack Fasciano, son of the restaurants founders, revealed that his daughter, Gina Fasciano-Hogan, planned to reopen the business in the former Barrier’s building at Douglas and Oliver in College Hill.

I called Gina this week for an update, and… there really isn’t one, she said.

The plans are still in the works, she said, and it still looks like they’ll get the Barrier’s building. Nothing has been signed yet, though, and Fasciano-Hogan said the process has all taken much longer than she thought it would.

I’ll update you when there are developments.

Also, I hesitate to share this with you out of fear you will die of envy, but a couple of months ago, I was able to talk Jack Fasciano out of one of the Angelo’s pizzas he now makes at home for friends. I shared it with co-workers, and it was just as good as we remember.

The secret, I think, is the homemade sausage that comes raw on the frozen pizza. As the pie cooks, the sausage juices absorb into the crust, and the results…. Mama Mia!