Side Dish

I Coulda Been a Contenda
Now that chef Bruce Hill is back from a jaunt to the Orient, there's been yet another shake-up at the Waterfront. Chef de cuisine Jon Nelson has been shown the door and sous-chef Mark Schoenfield has stepped up to bat. Bruce is working overtime to iron out the deep wrinkles. Who would the Falchis turn to if they were really in trouble?

Nelson has landed on both feet and is taking over the pots and pans at Oritalia. Brenda Buenviaje, who replaced Bruce Hill -- him again -- when the restaurant was on Fillmore Street, and built it into a destination above the Stockton Tunnel, is leaving by -- that dreaded phrase -- "mutual agreement." Meanwhile, Oritalia is expanding rapidly, with a new restaurant in Vancouver and another one opening this month in Portland.

Greasy Kid Stuff
Mr. Smooth slid into town yesterday with a visit to Le Colonial. You don't know Smooth? He's slicker than thou -- and he drinks Tropico, a new fruit-blend rum from Bacardi. A cross between Mr. Jenkins, 007, and Guido the Killer Pimp, Smoothie is the latest liquor mascot. Sheryl Crow and Sandra Bernhard, coincidentally eating in the Cosmo Alley dining room, were obviously unimpressed with the antics of the aforementioned Mr. Smooth -- and the herd of guys there in need of Smooth's expertise.

Life After Death
The Chronicle recap reviews last week, "Where to dine in North Beach," led off with an item on Adolfo's. Sunday's Chron matchmaking page featured an ad of the week -- WM seeking AF -- with the prize being ... dinner for two at Adolfo's restaurant and bar. Unfortunately, despite all this great press, the North Beach mainstay is shuttered and its telephone line disconnected. The space is being shopped around to prospective restaurateurs. Timing is everything -- in comedy and restaurants.

Hitched
Jon Guinea, omnipresent behind the rail at LuLu, and his lovely wife, Gabrielle, were married July 31 by Jon's partner in crime and mixology, Andre, who officiated. So the toothsome twosome are now both off the market, ladies, but they still have licenses to flirt.

Homeless
Just last month Harry trumpeted the new project Marc Valiani and his partner, Gary Kurtz, were cooking up in North Beach. They had the liquor license (the old one from Ernie's), the space, and a New Year's Eve opening date. Well, they still have the permits, but the four walls have come tumbling down. The building owners at 1717 Powell decided they didn't want to rent to a restaurant -- God knows why not -- and the boys are back on the street looking for a foundation on which to build their dream.

By Harry Coverte

Know something Harry doesn't? E-mail Coverte@aol.com and sweep the dirt out from under the rug.

 
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