Once again, Scott Howell is doing something he excels at: opening a restaurant. Depending how long you've lived in our area, you may remember that Howell, the chef-owner of Nana's (2514 University Drive, Durham, 493-8545, www.nanasdurham.com), was a member of the various teams that opened Pop's, The Q Shack (four locations, two of which remain) and Nana's Chophouse (which is no more). "I'm the design guy and the contractor guy," said Howell. "I like the building process."
He also likes running a restaurant, as he has done at Nana's since 1992. His new project is to convert the former gas station between Nana's and The Original Q Shack. In its new incarnation, the Rockwood Filling Station at 2512 University Drive will house a 60-seat casual restaurant, the centerpiece of which is a wood-burning oven. From it, Howell plans to serve Neapolitan-style pizzas made with simple ingredients and cooked at high heat "so they're a little black around the edges," as well as chicken wings roasted in big cast-iron pans. The other two menu staples will be salads and ice cream, and he will have a full bar and wines by the bottle and glass. Howell plans to open later this month.
Partners Steve Adams (proprietor) and Franz Propst (chef) have teamed up again to open The Ocean Grill (4300 N.W. Cary Parkway, Cary, 467-2260, www.theoceangrill.com) in the former Mamma Mia's space in the Preston Corners shopping center. The duo, who also opened The Peak City Grill & Bar in Apex, hopes to serve "the very freshest fish from our own coastal waters as well as from around the world." The menu also features steaks and a raw bar, as well as a full drink bar and wine list. The Ocean Grill is now open seven nights a week for dinner and for lunch Monday through Friday.
In a May 14 column on Triangle Restaurant Week (www.trirestaurantweek.com), a Raleigh-based effort to encourage diners to try new places, I listed the prices as $15 per person for dinner and $12 for lunch; the actual prices were $25 and $15. Argh, I'm sorry.
Despite my mistake, the idea of encouraging cross-Triangle dining was great, which is why I'm mentioning another effort: the 2008 Diamond Dinner Series, which begins this month at the Carolina Inn's CrossRoads Restaurant & Bar (211 Pittsboro St., Chapel Hill, 918-2777, www.carolinainn.com/dining.htm) on June 19.
Each month, executive chefs from five of the area's AAA Four Diamond award-winning restaurants will gather in one another's kitchens to prepare a meal. On June 19, Jimmy Reale of CrossRoads will be joined by Jason Cunningham of the Fairview at Washington Duke Inn (Durham), Oscar LaFuente of Herons (Cary), Adam Rose of Il Palio (Chapel Hill) and Daniel Schurr of Second Empire (Raleigh).
Each five-course dinner begins with an hors d'oeuvres reception at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $95 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Wine is included. For June 19 reservations, call CrossRoads. Future dinners will be held at Fairview July 17, Herons Aug. 21, Il Palio Sept. 18 and Second Empire Oct. 16.
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