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New eats: Toast Paninoteca and The Mint



Toast Paninoteca (345 W. Main St., Durham, 683-2183, is now open in the Five Points neighborhood downtown. In addition to serving locally sourced food on grilled bread (enough said, right?), owners Billy and Kelli Cotter are teaching us lovely Italian words: A paninoteca is an authentic Italian sandwich shop. Toast serves panini (hot grilled sandwiches on rustic Italian bread, made down the street at the Rue Cler bakery); tramezzini (cold sandwiches on crustless white bread); bruschetta (hearty grilled bread, topped, enjoyed with a knife and fork); and crostini (small toasted bread, topped, enjoyed in two or three bites). Green salad, homemade soups and dolce (dessert) also offered. Toast is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Citrus (100 Westgreen Drive, Chapel Hill, 933-0623, is now open for dinner Thursday and Friday evenings from 5 to 9. Open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week since late 2006, Citrus extended its hours due to customer demand, says co-owner Tom Meier.

Co-owner and executive chef Marc Lucero has brought Citrus' "eclectic American" aesthetic (chorizo con huevos, a cordon bleu omelette, apple-pecan pancakes) to the dinner menu, which features handmade salmon cakes, green chile baby back ribs and a rotating pasta of the day.

In Raleigh, the Fayetteville Street renaissance continues with The Mint (219 Fayetteville St., 821-0011,, which opened in January. The restaurant seats 85 in the main dining room, plus 64 outside. Upstairs is The M-Bar, featuring after-dinner drinks and a jazz trio.

The Mint's cuisine is "contemporary fine Southern with global influences" according to its Web site. Executive Chef Jeremy Clayman (who has experience at Charleston's Peninsula Grille, Charleston Chops and the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville) has created a menu that includes a rare seared tuna served with Carolina gold rice, soy pearl onion, snow pea and horseradish crème; seared organic chicken with sage gnocchi, chicken confit, truffled broccoli and honey thyme glaze; and oven-roasted duck breast with parsnip, watercress, pear and gorgonzola. Clayman says there won't be a signature dish at The Mint, but rather a menu that evolves daily to offer the restaurant's patrons a variety of tastes and themes.

Also in Raleigh, David Mao, chef-owner of the Duck & Dumpling (222 S. Blount St., 838-0085,, has created a menu for customers who want to eat in the bar. In effect since Feb. 1, the menu features small plates in the $6-$8 range, including Chinatown roast pork noodles (egg noodles topped with chasui pork and baby bok choy in a ginger-orange soy reduction), Malaysian roti flatbread served with chicken-potato yellow curry, and a shrimp tempura summer roll—shrimp, asparagus and Boston bibb lettuce in a rice wrapper, served with soy honey dipping sauce and roasted sesame seeds.

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