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Chef Forgione Heads for the Country

Larry Forgione, owner-chef of New York’s An American Place (and one of the participants, incidently, in next weekend’s Food and Wine festival at Universal Studios), has a new restaurant project in the works--a country inn in the town of Rampopo, some 23 miles north of midtown Manhattan. It’s the latest “Americana” move by Forgione, one of the nation’s best-known chefs, who almost single-handedly began the trend back to basic American food.

The restaurant will be called the Smith House Farm, for good historical reasons: the building it will occupy was originally constructed as an establishment called the Smith House Tavern in 1709, and functioned as such until the late 18th Century. Since that time, it has been a private residence. The structure’s current owners, NBC-TV president Pierson Mapes and his wife, Pat, (the property has been in the Mapes family since the 1850s) are Forgione’s partners in the restaurant.

“The food will be similar to what I cook at An American Place,” Forgione says, “but it will be a bit more country oriented. I don’t want it to seem like just a displaced New York City restaurant.” The Smith House Farm will open late next spring. There might eventually be a small, all-suite hotel nearby, Forgione adds, in an old hunting lodge on the same estate.

Forgione’s long-awaited and much-publicized restaurant for Morgan’s Hotel back in Manhattan is now definitely a no-go, but he is serving as in-house food consultant for the hotel itself and for two other Gotham hostelries under the same ownership--the Century Paramount and the soon-to-reopen Royalton.

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ALICE’S RESTAURANTS: As has been previously reported in The Times, high rents are forcing the landmark Alice’s Restaurant, on the land-bound end of Malibu Pier, to give up its berth there later this year. Alice’s proprietor, Bob Yuro, and his longtime partner, Peter Palazzo, together with the restaurant’s talented chef, Andre Guerrero (also now a partner in the establishment’s operating company), recently confirmed that Alice’s will open anew in early April in the just-completed Pacific Sunset Building on the corner of, well, Sunset Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway. Meanwhile, the Yuro-Palazzo-Guerrero partnership will open two more restaurants--a casual California/Italian place in Reseda called Brio, tentatively due next week; and an as-yet unnamed restaurant in Marina del Rey that will probably, but not definitely, be Asian in flavor.

OTHER NEW RESTAURANTS: There’s big news for food lovers in the South Bay area: Susumu Fukui, the superb French-trained, Japanese-born chef who headed the kitchen at La Petite Chaya in Hollywood throughout its all-too-brief existence, just launched a new place in Torrance called Symphonie. After asking rhetorically in promotional material for the restaurant, “What does it matter whether we call (the food at Symphonie) nouvelle or classical, California or Franco-Japonaise?” Fukui then calls it something else altogether: “Cuisine Inventive.” . . . Meanwhile, in Pasadena, Roger Crawford, proprietor of the Ritz Grill, opened “Pasadena’s first authentic European deli/bakery,” Elaine’s by name, near the Ritz in the Tanner Market Complex. Crawford will open two more operations in the complex in October--a nightclub and banquet facility called Premiere and an Italian restaurant dubbed Pappagallo. . . . And the Wendy’s chain has signed a franchise agreement with Aytemiz Petrol Industry & Commerce Inc. (yikes!), to open eight Wendy’s units in Turkey.


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