Lincoln Road is a fertile ground for rumors, but I gotta tell you, few have panned out. First there was the story that Red Lobster was replacing South Beach Brasserie. Uh-uh. Then I heard Cheesecake Factory was coming to haunt the Road. Still no final word on that little tidbit -- no one's talking. Finally a whiff of what looked like good news: The Caffe Abbracci people were taking over the vacant gay bar West End. Wrong again, says Nino Pernetti, Abbracci's owner. Pernetti, who at one time ran three restaurants in the Gables (including the highly regarded Caffe Baci), notes that he'd rather "own one [restaurant] and be good. It's tough to maintain the quality otherwise." Personal credo (or learning from experience) hasn't stopped Pernetti from branching out, however. He just opened an antiques store called Fiorelli on Aragon Avenue. Culinary antiques? Nah, he admits. "Everyone wants something new for the kitchen." Too true, sadly. Meanwhile both South Beach Brasserie and West End could use an infusion of the new. Neither one looks as if it's about to reopen anytime soon.
Meanwhile Red Square, which was beginning to look as abandoned as the Siberian steppe, has received a much-needed infusion of the new: During a press bonanza this past week, executive chef Frank Copestick unveiled his most recent menu. Less Russian, more fusion (yes, you read correctly, because there is such a dearth of expensive fusion in town as is ...) is the consensus, with dishes such as deboned snapper stuffed with crabmeat and sautéed spinach or lobster fettuccine taking prominence over erstwhile Georgian fried chicken. Because really, when you think about it, there's so little fusion on the Beach and in Miami these days.
Copestick beats to the culinary punch some of the more interesting prospective eateries on South Beach, given that this season's openings appear to be on Miami time (read: late) in getting their savory acts together. But Caviarteria, which could be a grand place to imbibe the bubbly and feast on fish eggs at the intersection of Fifteenth Street and Ocean Drive, looks to be on the verge of opening only a few weeks past its December launch date (hey, that's almost timely!). At least the phone number is finally in the information directory, which gives me hope that I'll be spending my paycheck there pretty soon. Cameron Diaz's hullabalooed Bambú has a sign in its freshly caulked window advertising for staff; I think my husband is thinking of giving up neurology for dishwashing, just to get a glimpse of her. I don't know what's going on with the Billboard's restaurants on Collins Avenue, though, also touted to open in the fall. Has executive chef Johnny Vinczencz left the building?
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Where's Johnny V.? Report sightings to Kavetchnik@aol.com.