Category Archives: Frankfort Ave., Clifton, Crescent Hill

By any name, Varanese is a winner

Varanese – named for chef John Varanese, who’s been chef at the Cardinal Club and the late, great Azalea – opened last month in the old Red Lounge on Frankfort Avenue. The space has been completely renovated, and the food recalls Azalea. Photo by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes

I was really excited when I heard about this new restaurant. Its name sounded like “Veronese.” Verona! The legendary home of Romeo and Juliet is one of my favorite cities anywhere, and Veronese food and wine rank among my favorite cuisines. If this new place was going to feature the delicious dishes of Northeastern Italy’s Veneto region, I would be a happy boy.

Duh. I wasn’t listening close enough. That’s VarAnese, not VerOnese. Never mind!

In fact, this new dining room – it opened Aug. 20 in the former Red Lounge – is named for its owner and chef, John Varanese; and that’s not a bad thing, not bad at all.
Continue reading By any name, Varanese is a winner

On wings of fire

Back Door wings are legendary. Have them mild, medium, hot or “Burner.” LEO Photo by Nicole Pullen.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Nine fine spots for wings)

The calendar says it’s September, and just about everybody in town is fired up for the Cards vs. Cats weekend. So where are the colorful leaves, that hint of wood smoke in the air and the crisp, hazy autumn afternoons that define “football weather”?

OK, so it’s a little early for that, with temperatures still hitting the 90s and few signs of autumn around. But one constant of the season remains: Whether you’re tailgating at the stadium or planning a hearty repast for an afternoon of football on TV, it’s hard to imagine a better football snack than a mess of spicy, crispy Buffalo-style chicken wings.
Continue reading On wings of fire

The quality factor: Three local gems

Caffe Classico
Caffé Classico stands out on Frankfort Avenue for its cool, sophisticated Euro-style atmosphere and excellent coffee and espresso drinks. Owner-chef Tommie Mudd recently introduced a full dinner menu. Photo by Nicole Pullen.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Caffé Classico dinner, Mojito brunch, Original Impellizzeri’s)

In a world where MBAs rule and where economic terms like “monetization” and “quarterly balance sheet” and even the blunt “bottom line” hold sway, it sometimes seems as if the simple concept of succeeding through high quality and honest service at a fair price has become old-fashioned and even a bit naive.

Happily for local food lovers and the restaurant-going public, though, these sweetly antiquated concepts remain alive and well among many of Louisville’s excellent local, un-chained restaurateurs.

We’ve stepped up to the dinner plate and had three home runs smacked directly at our taste buds in recent weeks. Continue reading The quality factor: Three local gems

Jarfi’s artful fare now at two centers

Wings To Go
Also featured this week: Wings To Go, a small chain spot in New Albany that makes a credible version of the original Buffalo chicken wing. Photo by Robin Garr

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Jarfi’s @ Mellwood; Wings To Go)

One of Louisville’s more striking dining venues has to be Jarfi’s Bistro, which makes stylish use of its space in the Kentucky Center, the big, black modern building on West Main Street that suffered the tragic loss of its useful subordinate clause “… for the Arts” in a marketing decision a while back.

Jarfi, born in Morocco but international in his culinary inspiration, presides over a broad bill of fare at his eponymous eatery, a comfortably upscale place that’s equally well suited for an indulgent, lingering dinner, a quick pre-theater repast, or even an artful plate of sushi.

And now he’s branching out, quietly opening another, much more casual venue in an attractive if lower-profile center for the arts. Regular Eat ‘N’ Blog correspondent KEVIN GIBSON picks up the beat from the new Jarfi’s @ Mellwood in the Mellwood Arts & Entertainment Center. Here’s Kevin’s report:
Continue reading Jarfi’s artful fare now at two centers

Pizza: The all-American snack?

Ready to fold and eat: Four sizzling NYC-style slices at Luigi’s. Photo by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Primo, Tony Boombozz, Luigi)

Pizza, as I’ve pointed out before, traces its roots to Italy, specifically to the seaport city of Naples in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. In the American melting pot, though, pizza has become as all-American a dish as, well, chow mein or sauerkraut.

From the American Northeast, where immigrant families still turn out a respectable variation on the Neapolitan original, pizza evolved as it moved across the nation in the postwar years. It gained a little here, lost a little there, and has gifted us with offshoots that range from the thick, casserole-like Chicago deep-dish pie to Wolfgang Puck’s California inventions with their wacky toppings of smoked salmon, sour cream and caviar.
Continue reading Pizza: The all-American snack?

Indulgent brunch at classy Volare

Shrimp and grits
Shrimp and grits: This Italian-accented variation on the Low Country standard is a brunch standby at Volare. Photo by Robin Garr

(Voice-Tribune, May 31, 2007)

It’s hard to believe that Volare has been around for only three years.

In those short years, this classy Italian dining room has shed its original Chicago-based connection; brought in the savvy Majid Ghavami as general manager, and hung on to Chef Dallas McGarrity, who cooks Italian as if he had a vowel on the end of his name (and hey, he does!)

With a recent expansion increasing the seating area and kitchen, there’s more of Volare to love than ever. It’s a personal favorite, my No. 1 choice among Louisville’s Italian restaurants for food, mood and service.
Continue reading Indulgent brunch at classy Volare