If you drove past the shuttered Italian Market this weekend and feared the worst in this era of frequent restaurant closings, don't panic yet. As of today, the doors are open again, with new management at the helm and a new sign on the way.
Cafe Coco owner Chuck Cinneli recently took over from co-owner Ernesto Schiratti, who had been operating the business alone since business partner Ken Petersen and chef Lee Guidry pulled out in January. Cinneli is in the process of reconfiguring and renaming the store, which reopened today as Cafe Coco's Italian Market & Kitchen.
Chef Paul Nadeau, who most recently worked at Past Perfect downtown, is taking over the kitchen, where he will introduce a new menu of pastas, pizzas and paninis, many of which will be familiar to fans of the 24-hour Cafe Coco on Louise Street.
Long a gathering place for the Amerigo Vespucci Society, whose Italophile members recreated the mother country on the bocce ball courts out back, the reinvented Italian Market will not have the bocce courts. The real estate has been annexed for parking by the neighboring union building. Cinneli said he will move the patio dining to the front of the market. The market will continue to sell imported groceries. Wine, beer and liquor licenses are in the works.
Meanwhile, former Italian Market don Ken Petersen is concentrating on his automotive business, working as a consultant to Ultimate Tire & Car Care as he contemplates his next restaurant venture. Guidry, a former intern of Emeril Lagasse's who breathed culinary life into the Italian Market when he arrived in early 2007, has been working at The Bound'ry for the last month.
Located at 411 51st Ave. N. (Phone: 783-0114), Cafe Coco's Italian Market & Kitchen serves lunch and dinner daily. As always, if you get there before we do, please report back on Bites.