Power of Tower
If you can't get enough of Jeremiah Tower, then you'll be pleased to know he's opening yet another restaurant. This one is called J.T.'s, and, starting in February, it will occupy the space formerly filled by Stars Cafe (which moved around the corner and became much more brasserie-like — and expensive).

Tower is something of a conquistador among local celebrity chefs. He has colonized the area around the original Stars, and he has hoisted his flag in the wine country, at Stars Oakville Cafe.

But a march down the Peninsula has ended in grief. Tower's venture in Palo Alto still bears the name Stars, but Dish hears that Tower no longer has anything to do with it beyond licensing the name. Dish's in-the-know moles in the South Bay also say that service at the Palo Alto restaurant can be maddeningly slow.

As for J.T.'s, the mood “will be more intense and romantic than Stars or Stars Cafe,” Tower says. “The color scheme I have selected is red and gold.”

What about the food? “I plan to serve new, experimental dishes at J.T.'s,” Tower says, carefully avoiding use of the dread “interesting.” If you want “old favorites” (what could these be at a brand-new place?), you'll be able to get them, too.

Dine Line
Taking a page from 1-800-DENTIST, an outfit called the Camelot Guide Line offers tips and recommendations about the city's restaurants and clubs. Dial 777-3344, and you will connect to an automated menu that sorts restaurants by category (“romantic and elegant” and “for kids,” among others, though no “romantic for kids”) and food type.

Dish was curious about the vegetarian restaurants. It couldn't be … but yes! Their top recommendation is that weary warhorse Greens, with its bay view.

The “new and trendy” places are Rubicon, Cypress Club, and Moose's. Huh? The service's recommendations are “updated regularly” — once every few years or so, apparently.

Smashing Pumpkins
American images of the pumpkin are not glamorous. The big orange squash figures in Thanksgiving pies and breads no one wants to eat, and as the remains of shattered jack-o'-lanterns in the gutter the morning after Halloween.

But chef Sergio Giusti, of Firenze by Night in North Beach, uses pumpkin in his gnocchi, the Italian dumplings traditionally made with potato. Pumpkin behaves like potato in the chef's hands, Giusti says, but adds its distinctive sweet-nutty taste in addition to its smooth texture. Dish wonders what Giusti can rescue next? The fruitcake? The overcooked turkey? It's that time of year.

By Paul Reidinger

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