The Food Biz: European flair

Sardinia, French Riviera open in West End corridor

Two high-profile spots from veteran restaurateurs drawn to Nashville from bigger cities have opened their doors along the West End corridor.

Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante opened Feb. 13 in a striking space off West End, across from Centennial Park. Riviera Provincial Grill opened last week on Hayes Street, in a renovated bungalow behind West End’s Hutton Hotel in Midtown.

As I reported in July, Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante is the second location of a popular Italian restaurant and wine bar in Miami Beach.

Sardinia co-owners Tony Gallo (general manager) and Pietro Vardeu (chef) have staked out a 7,000-square- foot space at the Park View Towers, just off West End and Elliston Place. (It’s the same building that houses Kobe Steaks.)

They tout fresh touches on the Sardinia menu like mozzarella and burrata (a buttery fresh cheese) made in house. Meat and seafood entrees are grilled in a wood-burning oven. The Sardinia team also emphasizes the wine program, offering wines by the glass, the bottle and the relatively new (to Nashville) quartino-size portion — it’s a carafe that is a quarter-liter of wine, around 8 ounces or roughly one-and-a-half glasses.

Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante is at 210 25th Ave. N. The phone number is 320-9147. The hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

Meanwhile, Riviera Provincial Grill opened last week on Hayes Street, in the building that formerly housed Vito’s, and before that, DaVinci’s Pizza. It’s the project of Jacques Hourtal, a native of France, and his American-born son, Phillip. Both are classically trained chefs, and Jacques Hourtal has owned several popular restaurants in the Atlanta area.

The menu focuses on “French comfort food,” in a neighborhood bistro atmosphere. The menu focuses on the cuisine of Southern France, with a bit of Italian influence. (In his youth, Jacques Hourtal spent time with relatives in the Piedmont region of Italy.) Lunch looks especially affordable, with sandwiches and entrees in the $7.50 to $12 range.

Riviera Provincial Grill is at 1812 Hayes St. The phone number is 835- 2912. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday. Hours: lunch 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner 5 to 9 p.m. (Sun- day hours will be added later this year.)

• A prelude to news from Encore: The downtown condominium tower already has chef Deb Paquette’s spot Etch operating in its ground floor, and now a second, separate restaurant is in the works for the Encore building (at Third Avenue South and Demonbreun Street, about a block from the upcoming Music City Center).

There are no official details yet, but we hear the name of the new restaurant is The Farm House — in honor of its farm-to-table approach — and the chef is Trey Cioccia. We’ll keep you posted when we know more. It seems like anticipation for the Music City Center opening in May keeps spawning more restaurant projects every week.

• Several of Nashville’s chefs got major recognition last week with the announcement of this year’s semifinals for the James Beard Foundation awards.

Perhaps the most unexpected (but gratifying) nod was for chef Hal Holden-Bache’s Lockeland Table, which was one of 29 nominees in the nationwide category of Best New Restaurant. Another Tennessee restaurant, Hog & Hominy in Memphis, also got a nod in this category.

Three Nashville chefs were nominated in the regional category of Best Chef Southeast: Tandy Wilson of City House, Tyler Brown of Capitol Grill and Margot McCormack of the venerable Margot Cafe & Bar.

Four other Tennesseans made the cut: Joseph Lenn of The Barn at Blackberry Farm in Walland, Daniel Lindley of St. John’s in Chattanooga, and Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman of Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen in Memphis.

The next round of finalists will be announced in March, and the James Beard awards gala is set for May in New York.