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Elusive Moose Debuts in Waitsfield; Italian Comes to Johnson

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Waitsfield’s Elusive Moose Pub & Eatery isn’t so shy anymore. After more than a week of soft-opening meals, it will open officially this Thursday or Friday, says Ginger Locke, who owns the restaurant with husband Martin.

And, Ginger Locke continues, the Mad River Valley is greeting the restaurant with open arms. “It’s insane, but it’s all good-insane, so I’m not complaining,” she says. The pub side of the two-sided eatery serves dinner from Tuesday through Sunday. The café offers breakfast and lunch Thursday through Sunday.

Executive chef Chris Harmon, a longtime cook at the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel in New Hampshire, created the menu, which Locke describes as “casual food with a twist.” Locke says the most popular dish so far is a kurobuta pork shank braised in apple cider and served over grits. The house-ground short-rib-and-brisket burger “is kicking butt,” she adds. So are salads, including one made with curly endive, smoked salmon and dill in a mustard vinaigrette.

Locke says it’s important to her to keep prices low. The burger is $9, while a big breakfast including eggs, choice of meat, toast and home fries rings up at $6.50.

A big change hit Johnson this week. On January 21, Chris Ferguson and girlfriend Allison Tafuri, formerly of the Brewster River Pub & Brewery, purchased the Hub Pizzeria & Pub. The pair reopened the spot on Tuesday evening as Downtown Pizzeria & Pub.

Ferguson says his goal is to return the restaurant to the status of a destination for comfort food and live music that it enjoyed when he was manager under original owner Ernie Borsellino.

Downtown Pizzeria is even using Borsellino’s crust recipe. New Jersey native Ferguson says it’s important to him to have Italian food in the area that meets his standards. With the pizza now perfected, including an expanded range of toppings, he’s especially proud of the homemade chicken and eggplant Parmigiana.

All that’s left now is to establish a following. Live music on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays shouldn’t hurt, nor should Tuesday’s $2 slices, and $3 beers from Switchback Brewing Company.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Hot Entreés"