Category Archives: Italian food

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!

Ambassador’s planned restaurant has a chef

Siena Tuscan Steakhouse, the upscale restaurant scheduled to open inside the new Ambassador Hotel at Douglas and Broadway when it opens at in December, has named an executive chef.

Marshall Röth, who most recently worked as executive chef at the Hawker Beechcraft Global Delivery Center, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has worked for famous chefs such as David Burke and Todd English.

He started his career at Burke’s Park Avenue Cafe in New York City and also has worked at the Regent Wall Street, at English’s Olives Aspen in the Aspen St. Regis Hotel, at the Palace Hotel in San Fransisco, at Hotel Phillips in Kansas City. He also founded Dog Nuvo in Kansas City with Harry Blasco.

He lives in Wichita.

The Ambassador Wichita will be a 14-story, 117-room luxury boutique hotel. Siena Tuscan Steakhouse will be a fine-dining restaurant featuring traditional dishes from the Tuscany region of Italy. The 2,400-square-foot restaurant will have floor-to-ceiling windows, seating for 100 and a 500-square-foot patio facing Douglas. It will be visible from the street and is expected to open at the same time the hotel does.

It will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, provide catering for events at the hotel and serve hotel guests as well as locals.

If Angelo’s happens, it will have parking, owners say

A waitress delivering plates of Angelo's goodness back in 1999

After I posted my story about Gina Fasciano-Hogan’s plans to try and reopen her family’s business — iconic Wichita Italian restaurant Angelo’s — in the former Barrier’s spot at Douglas and Oliver, the online comment-a-palooza began. (Of course it did.)

Some commenters claimed to be moved to joyful tears by the news. Many offered words of support. And several articulated one big concern: that the Barrier’s lot would not have adequate parking for the business.

I spoke with both Gina and her father, Jack Fasciano, this morning. If the deal for the space works out, the landlords have offered several possibilities, but all of them include more parking than the single strip that runs alongside the east side of the building, they said.

Fasciano-Hogan is planning a smaller restaurant that would seat between 36 and 40. It’s possible that the Barrier’s building would be split in half and the restaurant would use only part of it, leaving the other side open for a retail business.

It’s also possible, she said, that the back part of the building could be taken off, making room for more parking. The landlord also owns some duplexes on the property that sits to the south of the building, and some of those could be torn down to make way for parking.

Since it’s all still preliminary, Fasciano-Hogan said, nothing is for sure — except that there’d be enough parking for her customers. “That was one of our biggest concerns when we talked to them,” she said.

Angelo’s may reopen in old Barrier’s spot

Gina Fasciano-Hogan chats with a customer on the restaurant's final day in business in 2006.

Jack Fasciano’s daughter, Gina Fasciano-Hogan, is looking to reopen her family’s business, the once popular Angelo’s, in the former Barrier’s building at Douglas and Oliver in College Hill.

Fasciano-Hogan, who grew up working in the restaurant, has partnered up with friend Carrie New, and if everything works out, the restaurant could be reopened within six months, Jack Fasciano said.

The popular family-owned Italian restaurant, known for its pizza, lasagna and manicotti, closed the last location of the restaurant at 1930 S. Oliver in July 2006 after operating in Wichita for 46 years. Fasciano, the son of the restaurant’s founders, had run out of money and couldn’t keep the restaurant afloat. The bank froze his accounts just before he closed.

After the restaurant closed, Fasciano said, he went into a deep depression and said he didn’t leave the house for a couple of years. Then, people started asking him if he would make his famous pizzas and manicotti, which he’s been doing monthly out of his home for a growing list of about 45 friends.

He started thinking he should get the business going again and was looking for a partner when his daughter approached him. She’d been making cupcakes out of her home, mostly for the Blessed Sacrament community. Her children are now 9 and 13, and she told her father she was ready to revive the family business.

Fasciano-Hogan and New are taking entrepreneurship seminars at Wichita State University and are talking to investors. It’s still early in the process, but they have big plans for the building. Fasciano says he’d be involved, working at the restaurant and consulting.

“She’s really interested in getting it going,” Fasciano said of his daughter. “She’s really working hard at it.”

The restaurant would be called Angelo’s and would serve all the old favorites. It’d also offer Italian pastries, take-and-bake pizza, pizza by-the-slice and quick prepared lunches. The restaurant would have patio dining, too.

Jack Fasciano’s parents, Angelo and Anna, got their start making pizzas out of the basement of their home in the late 1950s. Sicilian-born Angelo, who worked at Boeing, would sell the pizzas to co-workers. They became so popular that he opened a small restaurant on South Laura in 1960.

The family moved the restaurant to a building near Harry and Hillside in 1961, then moved to a location across the street in 1976.

Customers loved the distinct pizzas, the salads with the pickled eggplant, and the homey pasta dishes.

The restaurant grew in popularity and expanded. At one point, five Angelo’s were operating across the city. The family also had restaurants in Andover, Hutchinson and Tulsa. Anna Fasciano died of complications from diabetes in March 2004. Angelo died a year later, in March 2005.

Jack Fasciano said when the restaurant closed that he hoped to revive it some day, preferably as a neighborhood mom-and-pop spot. He described the College Hill location as “gold.”

Derby’s Olive Garden opens Monday

Maybe, just maybe, this will cut down on the eternal lines at the Wichita Olive Gardens.

Who am I kidding? No it won’t.

Derby’s new Olive Garden will open at 4 p.m. Monday at 1718 N. Rock Road.  It will serve dinner only during its first week and will be open from 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Jan. 12 and from 4 to 11 p.m. Jan. 13. Daily lunch service starts on Jan. 14.

For more information, call 316-788-1501.

Bella Vita expansion is complete

Lory Wooley, left, Crystal Prud Homme DeLodden and head chef Adrian Prud Homme DeLodden.

Bella Vita Bistro, the Italian restaurant that’s one of West street’s best-kept secrets, just finished an expansion that’s added a bar and 32 more seats.

Owner Lory Wooley, who along with her daughter, Crystal, and Crystal’s chef husband Adrian Prud Homme DeLodder, opened Bella Vita in early 2010, took over the space next door formerly occupied by a nail salon and spent the past six weeks feverishly remodeling it.

The expansion, which doubled the size of the restaurant to 2,400 square feet, will allow it to cut down on sometimes long weekend-night waits,

“We were turning too many people away,” Wooley said. “I hated to do that.”

The expansion also will give Bella Vita the ability to host small events such as business meetings and wedding rehearsal dinners.

In other Bella Vita news: The restaurant is putting on a special plated New Year’s Eve dinner, which will include five courses for $50 a person. It’s taking reservations now.

Bella Vita Bistro is at 120 N. West St. For more information, call 316-941-4500.

Now open: Ciao Italian Kitchen

I’m getting a lot of questions about Ciao Italian Kitchen, the new restaurant that opened a couple of weeks ago in the space at 1720 N. Webb Road left vacant by Press. (And Sabor before that. And Piztro’s before that.)

I spoke yesterday with owner Guillermo Perez-Munoz,who told me that the restaurant opened on Sept. 29. Ciao is still waiting on its liquor license but in the meantime is serving a menu filled with Italian comfort food dishes such as lasagna, chicken Marsala, gnocchi, pizza and more. You can see the full menu here. Warning: It’s huge.

Perez-Munoz has remodeled the interior a bit, he said, moving the bar and adding booths. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. You can reach the restaurant by calling 316-613-2426.

Can I be honest with you? With the opening of Bocconcini, Luca Italian Kitchen, Italian Bistro and now Ciao, I’m getting a little concerned about all the Italian food eating on my horizon, calorically speaking. It’s a tough job…

Question of the week: Wichita’s best pasta dish

This week, I’m reviewing Bocconcini Italian Eatery, a charming and popular new Italian restaurant at 4811 E. Central that offers a nice list of pasta dishes. (Though none of them are spaghetti and meatballs. In fact, red sauce is rare on Nathan Toubia’s menu.)

This week’s question: Which Wichita restaurant serves the very best pasta dish, and what is it?

Please describe your nominee in all its saucy detail in the comments section below.