• With his aunt and uncle helping out in the kitchen, and with support from the rest of his restaurant family, Paul Mineo’s Trattoria opened in West Port Plaza Dec. 12. At age 43, after beating colon cancer, PAUL MINEO has returned to his passion: cooking classic, refined Italian food. He and his wife Bridgette spruced up the space where Marciano’s had been, bringing new light to the 160-seat, multi-level restaurant. (The Buzzettas, Paul’s aunt and uncle, will be opening their own Italian restaurant this year in Lafayette Square. Previously they ran Benedetto’s in Frontenac and Limoncello in Clayton.)

• Imagine a cake stand with toasted coconut-dusted cupcakes and lots of fresh lime wedges; that’s the presentation of the ‘Tropicale’ at Veruca. This new bakery at 1829 Sidney St. in Benton Park is located next to Niche, which is convenient since that restaurant’s pastry chef, MATHEW RICE, runs it. Scones, financiers, muffins, and other flour, sugar and butter delights are prepared lovingly by Rice and his apprentice, CAROL ANN WELSH. Back to the ‘Tropicale’…the toasted coconut cake has a lime curd core and passion fruit buttercream frosting. And you’ll want to keep the Veruca logo lapel pin attached to gift packs of four or more cupcakes.

• You’ll know you’re in the right place from the colorful prayer flags hanging around the room. The new location of our only Nepalese restaurant is now open at 4145 Manchester Ave. Four years ago, DEVI and CONNIE STATES opened Everest Cafe and Bar downtown. The new Everest boasts a four-page menu with cuisine from Korea and India newly added. The gracefully curved and pointed archway that divides the bar from the dining area is based on Buddhist and Tibetan worship sites called stupas—ensuring good karma along with the good food.

• The corporate lads at Fado Irish Pubs have chosen St. Louis for their third ‘small cottage.’ Tingin Irish Pub and Restaurant has just opened at 333 Washington Ave. With 16 draught beers, 11 each of Irish and Scotch whiskeys on the drink menu, general manager CRAIG WINNING is certain the comfort and camaraderie of raising a pint will bring out the Irish in everyone that comes to his pub. ROBERT KOEPER will be fixing the fish and chips, and the Tingin signature boxty entrees: meat-stuffed potato pancakes cooked crisp on a griddle.

• From Palermo with love… Sicilian chef GIANFRANCO MUNNA is going to recreate Italian specialties at the new Bartolino’s Osteria. After three and a half years running the restaurants at Shanty Creek ski resorts in Northern Michigan (including the highly regarded La Vigna Italian Bistro), Munna grew tired of commuting to St. Louis to see his wife and young family. So he accepted a job with the Saracino family of Bartolino’s fame to be executive chef at their new restaurant. Everything’s coming together in the new Drury Inn being built at Hampton and Highway 44, and by the end of January, Munna hopes to be serving specialties from all regions of his native land.

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