New Italian restaurant Albero Cafe about ready to go

IMG_0473I’ve been getting a frenzy of e-mails from College Hill-ians noticing that the new Albero Cafe, which is going into the former Bocconcini building at 4811 E. Central, is about to open.

This morning I stopped by and talked to Hassan Ballout, who said opening day for his Italian restaurant is still almost two weeks away. He hopes to have the restaurant ready to go the week of July 21.

Ballout, who worked for 10 years at nearby Bella Luna Cafe, has remodeled the space, adding new flooring, new tables and chairs and a fresh coat of paint. It looks and smells brand new, and it’s bright and open.

He also has his menu ready to go. It features flatbreads, salads, panini sandwiches and pasta dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs, Italian sausage penne and shrimp scampi. Entrees included grilled grouper, grilled salmon, strip steak, chicken Parmesan and eggplant Parmesan. The restaurant also will offer several Italian sodas and will have a liquor license.

Hours will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

I’ll let you know when Ballout settles on a firm opening date.

Wine and beer lovers: This is for you

Today, I’m launching a new feature on this blog that’s aimed at local fans of wine, beer and spirits.

It’s a new “page” where I’ll track local wine and beer tastings, charity events and more. (Look up there! Just to the left of my menu! Where it says “Wine and beer events.” Now click.)

I’ve started with some listings of events coming up over the next several months, and I’d like to add more features in the near future. A reader has already suggested that I have a section that lists bottle discounts at local restaurants. (Bella Luna, for example, offers half price bottles on Mondays and Wednesdays.)

Take a look and let me know what I’m missing.

Winner, winner, chicken fried steak dinner

Winner, winner, chicken fried steak dinner

Winner, winner, chicken fried steak dinner

Waayyyyyyyy back in December, the Eagle put on its annual holiday open house, and one of the prizes we gave away was the chance to accompany me on a restaurant review.

The winner waaayyyyyyy back in December was Jan Cummins (left), who has very patiently waited for seven months to collect her prize (courteously reminding me every few weeks). She finally did over the lunch hour today.

Jan brought her niece Stacy Schilling along, and the three of us had a fun time chit chatting and sampling the home cooking at a local restaurant.

The two were quite knowledgeable about Wichita restaurants and frequently dine at places such as Kwan Court, Granite City and Bella Luna.

You can find out where Jan, Stacy and I were eating when I publish the review next Friday.

SPEAKING OF WINNERS: Lori from the online team notified the five winners of the Taste of Wichita tickets this afternoon. Thanks to the 354 people who entered.