Starting this Thursday, hungry Winooski-ites will be able to sup on "creaky chicken," fatty-tuna "toro" sashimi, and prawns with honeyed walnuts. That's the day Asian Bistro of Williston expands into its second, Spinner Place locale. "We're going to be open seven days a week and serve lunch and dinner every day," says co-owner Jerry Jiang. He adds that old hands will find no surprises at the new location: It will be "pretty much the same."
But for now, thirsty patrons will have to stick with soft drinks and Molson Excel rather than opting for the restaurant's headier "plum yumm" or "Tokyo tea" beverages: The eatery has not yet received a liquor license. "We expect to have that in two or three weeks," Jiang says. "We'll have our grand opening then."
Is Jiang concerned about fierce competition from the likes of Tiny Thai, Pho Dang Vietnamese Café and the forthcoming offshoot of Bangkok Bistro, which will slide into the spot across the street vacated by the Blue Star Café? Nope: He hopes a high tide will float all boats, sushi and otherwise. "It's a pretty good thing," Jiang opines. "More restaurants bring more people to the area."
At the newly opened Pastabilities on Route 2 in Williston, patrons can watch Dan Roscioli roll, extrude and cut pasta dough or whip up a pizza to order. What they can't do is count on a place to sit. "We've been calling it a restaurant, but it's mostly a retail factory store kind of thing," explains Nicole Roscioli, who co-owns the shop - located in the old Da'Vine Gourmet spot - with her husband.
Though their establishment does boast a table, the early-thirties couple expect the bulk of their orders will be to-go. They'll cater to folks who want to take a hot pizza with 'em or buy one to throw in the oven at home - a slightly cheaper, tax-free option, Nicole explains.
Since the Rosciolis don't yet have a stovetop, the fresh pasta will be strictly DIY for now. The current selection is limited to the likes of linguine, fettuccine and ravioli, but eventually the noodles will come in a wider variety of shapes. Flavors include tomato, garlic pepper, and fresh spinach - the latter studded with verdant leaf bits.
According to Nicole, Dan has the restaurant biz in his blood: His family owned an Italian eatery in Massachusetts for generations. "When he wanted to leave his job, he was kind of brainstorming, and this is what we ended up doing based on our experience and our skills," she says.
Although pie wasn't part of the duo's original plan, the Da'Vine Gourmet's pizza setup matched with their pasta focus. The Rosciolis are already selling parbaked pies at Shelburne Supermarket, Lantman's IGA in Hinesburg and Mac's Market in Stowe, and hope to add their pastas to the lineup soon.
In a recent New Yorker, an expert touted Denny's as the perfect hangover cure. It's anyone's guess whether "Moons Over My Hammy" at 4 a.m. will really ease the side effects of late-night clubbing, but any observer can see that the chain's late-night crowd tends to be a little . . . younger than the dinner-rush set. As in Generation Y, no-early-morning-commute young.
The corporate suits seem to have noticed, and they've instituted an upgrade to increase the chain's appeal to that hipper crowd. From 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., staffers decked out in jeans and tees instead of traditional uniforms will serve up alt-rock music and inexpensive menu items that aren't available during the day.
The change is already underway at Denny's Shelburne Road location. "We've switched the menu over, but we don't have the new uniforms yet," says General Manager Dennis DeSimone. Those will arrive in late June. As for the trendier music, he admits, "I don't know. I'm not up that late. It's supposed to switch automatically."
But regardless of whether the mini-burgers and "potachos" - nachos made with potato chips, sausage, bacon, peppers, onions and cheese - bring in new flocks of carb-starved night owls, DeSimone has complete confidence in the Vermont location's stability. "I think this is more for places that aren't doing as well," he guesses. "I don't think the menu affects us that much, because we're busy anyway."