> It’s been a little more than a month since STEVEN CARAVELLI took over as executive chef at Araka, and he has wasted no time in putting his touch on the bill of fare. In addition to a four-course veggie tasting menu, Caravelli has also developed a five-course chef tasting menu, among other tweaks and changes. Check out the complete new menu at araka.com.
> Mount Pleasant Winery in Augusta, Mo., now has a sit-down restaurant to complement its fine wines. Appellation Cafe is open daily 11 a.m to 4 p.m, seats 30 inside (plus another 80 on the patio) and offers a menu featuring wraps, salads, burgers and sandwiches.
> Cheers to T.J. VYTLACIL, mixologist at Franco in Soulard, for taking third place in the Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition Aug. 28. He scored with his original Silver and Sand cocktail, a sublime scotch concoction.
> It took a little longer than expected, but the new Charlie Gitto’s finally opened Sept. 9 at 15525 Olive Blvd. in Chesterfield. It is the third in the Gitto’s stable. And a fifth Wasabi Sushi Bar has opened in Warson Woods at 9983 Manchester Road.
> Feeling altruistic? St. Louis-based nonprofit Three Avocados has begun selling coffee grown by folks in developing countries and reinvesting the profits in projects like water wells and schools in those countries. So far, Three Avocados coffee is available at area Dierbergs Markets and Eckert’s in Belleville, Ill., as well as online. More can be learned at threeavocados.org.
> In other charitable news, Morton’s The Steakhouse in Clayton is hosting a Bud Light Lime Power Hour Sept. 13 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The $10 door charge goes directly to Make-A-Wish of Missouri. And Tuesdays in September, select area restaurants are donating up to 30 percent of their day and/or evening sales to Nest, a nonprofit with the mission of empowering female artists and artisans worldwide. For participating restaurants, check buildanest.com/joinus.asp.
> JOE DELURGIO has added a restaurant component to his JVincent’s FoodEdge Catering Company. The carryout-only eatery, JVincent’s Pronto Pizza and Pasta, is at 3804 Louisiana Ave. and features fresh pasta, grilled Sicilian-style pizza, burgers, wings and a small vegetarian menu.
> Head to Highland, Ill., Oct. 9 and 10 for Dueling Desserts, part of the Art in The Park fair. Area chefs will hold demos and discuss their creations from noon until 2 p.m. each day. Attendees can vote for their favorites by donating change for a local food pantry. The list of participants reads like a who’s-who of dessert chefs, including CLAIRE ROBBERSON, Eclipse; BRIAN PELLETIER, of Kakao Chocolate; and SIMONE FAUER of the Ritz; STEFANI POLLACK of The Cupcake Project. For a full roster of chefs, go to highlandartscouncil.org
> Word has it that JONATHAN OLSON has stepped down as executive chef of Erato Wine Bar and Restaurant in Edwardsville, Ill.
> The Imo’s Pizza location at 7359 Forsyth Ave. has moved into new digs at 23 N. Bemiston Ave.