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New Restaurants Replace Old Favorites in Williston and Essex



Three Tomatoes Trattoria occupied the prime location next door to Williston's Majestic 10 Cinemas for a decade. Now burgers will replace pizza in the Maple Tree Place spot. Grazers is slated to open in late September or early October.

The restaurant is a collaboration of two restaurant groups: Sam, Peter and Paul Handy, the brothers behind Vermont Tap House; and Sam Handy's son, also named Sam, who owns Burlington's Scuffer Steak & Ale House with Pat Stewart and Don Johnson. "It's basically my concept," says the younger Handy. "I've had this in my head for a long time."

Sam Handy Jr. says Grazers will make burgers from beef, turkey, lamb and pork, as well as two veggie patties incorporating black beans and beets. They'll be paired with various fry options, including garlic-rosemary and truffle. Milkshakes are also part of the plan, but adult beverages get a major focus.

The restaurant's back wall is being transformed into a vodka bar that will serve "at least 30 martinis and cocktails," Handy says. That sophistication will be reflected on the appetizer menu, featuring cheese and charcuterie plates, fried artichokes, and hummus with mint salsa verde.

The young restaurateur has high hopes. Handy's long-term plans include expanding beyond the Williston location. "It's definitely something we're thinking about," he says. "We need to make sure we nail this first one."

The Belted Cow Bistro closed at the end of April, leaving Essex Junction residents wondering what could take its place. Tree Bertram, owner of El Gato Cantina in Burlington, missed the announcement. But she got a tip about the available space from two of her regular customers — the Belted Cow's former owners, John Delpha and Caitlin Bilodeau.

Turns out, Bertram had been hoping to expand into Essex. "Essex has a lot of families, and I think our price point will fit there," she says. The second El Gato will likely open in September, after Bertram and her crew have given the space a Mexican makeover.

Bertram says to expect a menu similar to that in Burlington, complete with authentic Mexican tacos and harder-to-find dishes such as posole and tamales. The weekly specials will also come to Essex — including popular Wednesday $5 margarita nights.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Entrées"