Two Wichita restaurants say “We’re still here”

ZWL6W.SlMa.80Two Wichita restaurants are reminding longtime customers that they’re still in business. One is battling incorrect rumors. The other is battling inconvenient road construction.

Earlier this week, I heard from Ruben’s Mexican Grill owner Anita Acosta, whose husband and the restaurant’s namesake, Ruben, has been battling serious health problems since January. Anita has struggled to run the place by herself, she said, but has never considered closing. She became concerned when her landlord called recently and said he’d heard a rumor she planned to close.

That’s not the case, she said, and in fact, Ruben has been able to come back to work for a few hours at a time recently. The Acostas moved their Delano restaurant several blocks west on Douglas last year.

Meanwhile, DeFazio’s, the family-owned Italian restaurant at 2706 N. Amidon, also is reassuring customers that it’s still open. Roadwork that’s about to begin in front of the restaurant has caused its street sign to be removed, owners said.

But they’re working on getting new signage up that will point the easiest way to the restaurant, which will remain open throughout the project. Managers say they’ll keep customers posted on the progress of the construction via their Facebook page. 

When restaurants close on unexpected days

My Tho: Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

I spent weeks telling a friend how amazing the tacos were at Paleteria La Reyna, 2925 Arkansas Ave., and we made a date to go. We pulled up, hungry, on a Wednesday afternoon, only to find the parking lot empty.

Panicked, I ran to the door. The restaurant was closed. The chairs were on the tables. On a Wednesday. “OH NO!” I screamed. “They’ve gone out of business!!!”

But, no. The restaurant was simply closed. It’s closed every Wednesday, I learned.

Restaurants closing on unexpected days — which in my book is pretty much any day other than Sunday or Monday — have always thrown me. Inevitably, cravings for My Tho’s fabulous pho hit me on Tuesdays and Wednesdays — the very random days they are closed.

I’m printing a list of three restaurants with unusual closing hours in the paper on Friday, and the story already is generating discussion online, with several readers adding their two cents.

Here’s a list of strange closing days I have so far. Know of any others? Maybe we can help each other avoid Wednesday taco cravings.

1. My Tho, 500 E. Central, 316-262-5452: It never fails. A hankering for pho hits you on a Tuesday. But this popular purveyor of the delicious Vietnamese soup can’t help you on Tuesday – or on Wednesday, either. Those are the restaurant’s two days off. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays through Sundays.

2. Paleteria La Reyna, 2925 Arkansas, 316-831-9196: It’s usual for Mexican restaurants to close on Mondays. But this restaurant, known for its fabulous tacos and colorful Mexican ice cream counter, chooses to closes in the middle of the week – on Wednesday. Don’t worry. If you forget and show up anyway, Taqueria El Paisa is just a few blocks the other direction at 2227 Arkansas and an excellent choice, too. Paleteria La Reyna’s hours are 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

3. Garden Grill Cafe, 300 N Main St., 316-978-9213: You won’t want to plan to meet your friends for a fabulous vegetarian pizza on Saturdays at Garden Grill Cafe. It’s the only day of the week the cafe is closed, which chef/owner Miguel Larcher takes off for religions reasons. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.

4. DeFazio’s, 2706 N. Amidon: This popular Italian restaurant closes on Mondays and Tuesdays.

5. Ah-So, 855 S. Oliver St: The tiny Asian restaurant is closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Know of any others? Let me know in the comments section below.

New chefs Cooking at Bonnie’s Place

Bonnie Aieschliman regularly schedules local chefs to lead classes at her Cooking at Bonnie’s Place at 9747 E. 21st St., and she’s had several loyal teachers over the years, from Bocconcini’s Nathan Toubia to Carrabba’s Joe Parten.

Now, Bonnie has persuaded a new batch of chefs to come share their skills.

YaYa’s chef O.J. Moore will lead a cooking class at Cooking at Bonnie’s Place on Thursday.

The first class will be led on Thursday night by O.J. Moore, who took over last summer as executive chef at YaYa’s Euro Bistro, 8115 E. 21st St. N. 

He will be demonstrating how to make several of the dishes he’s recently added to the YaYa’s menu, including a pan-seared diver scallop with saffron orzo and lemon beurre blanc as will as a brined Yoder pork chop over spatzle.

Then, regular guest teacher Adrian Prud Homme DeLodder from Bella Vita Bistro at 120 N. West St. will do an Italian menu featuring seafood crepes at 6:30 p.m. on Monday.

And at 6:30 p.m. on  March 12, Pietro DeFazio, owner of DeFazio’s at 2706 N. Amidon, will show how to make dishes such as potato gnocchi and beef braciole.

Each of the classes cost $50 a person and includes food.

Visit Bonnie’s website or call 316-425-5224 to make a reservation.

Question of the week: Best WichItalian dish

Mickey Afsharpour with Capellini De Angelo at Marchello's.

This week, I’ve written my dining story about the Italian food renaissance that’s underway in Wichita. After a long period of losing our lasagna purveyors, we’re making a comeback. Luca Italian Eatery opened two weeks ago, and by the end of the summer, we’ll have Italian Bistro and Bocconcini as well.

It got me thinking about the delicious Italian dishes served now in Wichita in places such as Luciano’s, Sweet Basil, DeFazio’s, Marchello’s and more.

Which local Italian dish is your favorite? Tell me the specific dish and which restaurant it comes from.

Also, throw my nomination in the hat for Marchello’s melty, amazing lasagna.

Make your nomination in the comments section below.

Question of the week: Best family-owned restaurants

Family members of the late Connie Lopez, who still run Connie's Mexico Cafe at 2227 N. Broadway.

I’ve written over the years about several restaurants that are owned and run by members of a family. Some that come to mind: DeFazio’s, Bella Vita Bistro, Old Mill Tasty Shop, Connie’s Mexico Cafe, Saigon and La Galette, who’s 25th anniversary I wrote about this week.

What’s your favorite family-owned, family-run restaurant in Wichita?

Answer in the comments section below.

Farwell, Carino’s

In case you haven’t heard, Wichita has lost another restaurant. This time, it’s Johnny Carino’s, the Italian chain that opened in 2004 at 3213 N. Toben Road.

Don’t know where that is? Well, that was part of the problem, in my estimation. I had some pretty good meals at Carino’s in its early days, though in later visits, things seemed to have declined. But it was pretty difficult to get to the place. You could see it from K-96, but you had to find the right exit and the right twisty side-road to actually get into the parking lot. I have to believe the same problem did in neighboring Ted’s Montana Grill and Fritz Co. Grill (though another restaurant is now taking over that space.)

The exit of Johnny Carino’s, which closed on Wednesday, makes Wichita’s Italian restaurant pool even smaller, which might be good news for DeFazio’s, Marchello’s and Bella Vita Bistro.