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Williamstown Trendy Eatery To Fill Former Mezze

Andy McKeever

Restaurateurs Gill Rubenstein and David Aldecoa spoke to the Selectmen on Monday night with their attorney, Adams Filson.

 WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The owners of the new restaurant Hops and Vines, in the former Mezze building, said they are bringing the "city trendiness to the country friendliness."

The new Water Street restaurant received its liquor license Monday and the owners presented the Selectmen its idea of a mix between fine and casual dining.

"The idea is to renovate it into two sections. One side will be the hops — the causal side — and the other will be vines — the fine side," owner Gill Rubenstein said. "It's a trendy but friendly concept."

The owners are renovating the inside of the building with a new fireplace, tasting room and a partition to divide the two types of dining. But the real draw, they said, will be the outdoor beer garden.

Rubenstein said it will carry a "sizeable" beer list, on draft and in bottles, that will feature international and local micro brews and a large wine selection. Co-owner David Aldecoa said he is a certified sommelier.

The restaurant will feature seating on two outside porches with seating for up to 92 people as well as live music. It is expected to be open between May 16 and June 1. When the restaurant opens it will start with only dinners, opening at 5 p.m., but the owners said they would like to expand into brunch service, too. However, more serviceable parking would need to be created.

Foodwise, the owners have yet to decide exactly the angle. Rubenstein said they are leaning toward French-American food but it will depend on which chef they hire.

The owners said they both have extensive restaurant experience. Aldecoa said he got started when he opened a restaurant with his brother in Arizona more than a decade ago. He then worked at a resort casino in Las Vegas, where he first began working with Rubenstein. The two both moved to New York City and worked in various places there including the Essex House.

Aldecoa worked his way through the ranks on the food and beverage management side while Rubenstein's career is in financial consulting. Rubenstein said he worked with top chefs as a consultant in asset management.

"The capacity was more to make the chef's artistic side better on the financial side," Rubenstein said after presenting to the selectmen.

Rubenstein has opened other restaurants before, the most recent being Unwined in New York City.

Tags: Hops and Vines, Rubenstein, Aldecoa, Mezze      

High-End Italian Meets the Laid-Back Berkshires

Nichole Dupont

Fiori more than fills the empty void at the end of Railroad Street.

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The haunting of Railroad Street has come to an end, hopefully. The dark shell of Pearl's, which has stood empty for nearly two years, is now bustling with a stylish crowd and an impressive menu of new Italian classics.

Enter Fiori, which opened recently at the "bottom" of Railroad Street. Of course, I wanted to go in on opening day and do my little write-up then, but reviewing a restaurant when its first opens is, I feel, in bad form. So, last week when a friend suggested that we meet at the bar for a drink, my curiosity got the better of me.

"Of course, sounds great," I said, thinking that I was being rather gallant by steeling myself against ordering any food, because then I'd absolutely have to write a review.

When I arrived there, I was relieved to discover that my usual attire of jeans and black T-shirt was actually fine. In fact, the place was crawling with jeans and T-shirt folks (one was even wearing a baggy sweat shirt) just looking to eat some good food. But, again, I was not there to eat, just to sip a cocktail and watch everyone's dishes go sailing by leaving the delicious fumes behind to torture me.

Needless to say, the torture didn't last long. I tried sipping my Old-Fashioned with indifference, until my friend piped up.

Fiori is operated by brothers Alexander and Matthew Feldman at 47 Railroad St. Serving dinner daily beginning at 6; expected to open for lunch this summer. Find out more by calling 413-528-0351 or friend them on Facebook.

"You want to get some apps or something? I'm a little hungry."

And that was that. Before I knew it I was looking at a little bar menu (on very nice card stock, I might add) deciding on whether I wanted the cheese plate, the fries with garlic anchovy sauce or the duck liver pate over crispy bread. I finally settled on the pate and this curious little dish that sounded so intriguing I had to try it — anchovy-stuffed sage leaves fried with a panko breading. How could I not. My friend ordered the fries with the sauce and scallops from the dinner menu.

"I'm not trying to impress anyone tonight," she said.

We waited and chatted and enjoyed the general feeling of vibrancy around us. Once our pungent order came, it was all business. In fact, we didn't even try to carry on a conversation for the first 10 minutes. We just savored and sighed.

The pate, which is always an acquired taste, was the perfect mix of salt and the mild, irony tinge of all things liver-related. It was served on warm bread (spread for you) and that warmth seemed to allow the flavors of the pate to mix and soften. After taking a few bites of that farm-y deliciousness, it was time to move on to the anchovies. What struck me immediately was the breading. It was practically greaseless and when I bit into it, my mouth did not fill up with the oil that usually comes out of such a dish. In fact, the panko breading was just a formality compared to the explosion of sage on the palette. It seemed that the flavor would stop there, but the anchovy in the middle immediately dissolved the taste of the sage so that all that remained was a salty, herbal taste on the roof of the mouth.

"You've gotta try one of these," I said, pushing the basket of little fish to my friend. She dove in and had three while I took liberties with her saucy fries.

Don't be intimidated by Fiori's Manhattan, hipster-esque reputation (thanks to Pearl's). Although the high-end Italian cuisine gives pause, especially to local diners, it also encourages you to eat with your hands and savor every bite.

Tags: Fiori, Great Barrington      

New North Adams Restaurant Celebrates BBQ & Bourbon

Andy McKeever

 

Sandy Smith preps the food for a Wednesday opening. The restaurant will celebrate America's barbecue history.

Editor's Note, Dec. 29, 2011: RUB closed its doors in early December because the owners are separating. Gramercy Bistro at Mass MoCA remains open.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A new restaurant will open its doors Wednesday celebrating Americana through its bourbon and barbecue.

Rub: Bourbon and Barbecue is opening in the former Marshall Street storefront of Gramercy Bistro, which moved its operations onto the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts campus last year.

The menu will feature a variety of barbecue sauces and about 20 different bourbon whiskeys.

"I have a secret rub that's going on the product," owner Alexander "Sandy" Smith said on Friday. "It's all about celebrating Americana and barbecue is very American."

The menu will definitely be different from Smith's contemporary French cusine at Gramercy, with regular barbecue items from ribs to brisket to chicken splattered with the customer's pick of sauce. The styles of sauce vary in flavor depending on origin, such as Texas or Kansas. The food will be available for eat in or take out.

"We have a Texas sauce that has a very Mexican influence so it is a little spicier. The most popular would be the St. Louis or the Kansas City style," Smith said.

The restaurant will feature a bar but will specialize in bourbon whiskey. The whiskeys range in price and quality and some are distilled locally, Smith said.

The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Sunday. It will be closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Smith said he has only to hang a sign and artwork and then prepare the food prior to Wednesday's opening.

"People are scurrying around trying to get those last-minute details," he said. "I'm just going to open it and see what happens."

 

     

North Adams Sushi House Opens For Business

Andy McKeever

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Downtown now has its own sushi restaurant. 

The Sushi House opened with a full menu and bar Sunday at 45 Main St.

A grand opening event is yet to be planned but the restaurant is now welcoming customers.

Meng Wu Wang opened the restaurant to complement his China Buffet also on Main Street and just around the corner.
 
The site was the location for several years of Tangiers Boutique,  a gift shop and tanning salon that closed last year.
 
The restaurant will be open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 until 11 and Sundays from noon until 10:30 p.m.
 
 

 

Tags: North Adams, Sushi      

Gringos Reopens In Adams With Fanfare

Andy McKeever

Longtime North Adams eatery Gringos reopens on Park Street in Adams to reunite with former regulars.

ADAMS, Mass. — Gringos owner David Nicholas did not advertise that he was reopening at the former Firehouse Cafe on Park Street in hopes to have a quiet time to work out any kinks. That did not happen.

"It was the talk to the town for about six months and when we opened it was mobbed. Absolutely mobbed," he said.

Gringos, a longtime North Adams staple, was forced to close four years ago when the city sold the North Adams Plaza. When the Firehouse Cafe closed, Nicholas and his friend Burton Kirk, owner of the firehouse that once housed the Adams Ambulance, teamed up to reopen. Despite being closed for four years, Gringos was not forgotten.

Gringos Owner David Nicholas is confident that a new Park Street location will be a success.

"It's just been a great response. You see a huge amount of familiar faces that I used to see four years ago," Nicholas said. "Gringos didn't close because of a lack of business."

Only a small sign on the front windows announces that the cafe is now Gringos, yet word of mouth has led to a busy six weeks since it opened, Nicholas said. A larger sign is currently being made.

"I think it'll be successful. It'll make money," he said. "It's just been a great response."

The former Firehouse Cafe recently closed down because of a lack of business. Kirk was leasing it out but when the cafe closed, it seemed it would sit empty.

The building is filled with history and character, Nicholas said. It was built in 1890 and served as the town's first firehouse. The restaurant seats patrons where the trucks used to be. The only drawback, he said, is that it is smaller than the North Adams location.

The restaurant has a smaller but similar menu with mostly Mexican but also some American food. It is open Monday through Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m., and on Friday through Sunday, from 4 to 11 p.m.

Tags: Adams, Park Street, Gringos      
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