Bites: Roman feast; Bloomfield pop-up; Tic Toc time out; all's well at Alla Famiglia

Seduced by Sugo

Inspired by California's Thomas Keller, Chicago's Grant Achatz and Maryland's Bryan Voltaggio, Cory Rockwood and his culinary team will host this month's Lost Supper underground dinner Sept. 22 at a yet-to be-disclosed location Downtown. The $125, 12-course meal hinges on a Roman Empire theme. Chef Rockwood said the evening riffs on the spirit of molecular gastronomy, yet remains "accessible and fun. It's not too serious."

Among whimsical presentations is the course called Il Pesci e Mare e Anima, served on a roofing shingle. "The Fish, The Sea and The Soul" translates as a trio of baby octopus; head-on fried prawn; and sardines, greens, deep-fried parmesan and parmesan ice cream. Sugo also will make an appearance, on pork cheek meatballs, white beans and house-made ricotta.

As Fredrico Fellini's film "Roman Holiday" projects on a gossamer-fabric screen, diners will be served the first and second courses during a Negroni cocktail hour. A long table framed by the city skyline will host all 60 diners for remaining courses. Tickets can be purchased at Should it sell out, there is always next month's dinner, tentatively scheduled for Oct. 20.

Finding Fukuda

Since they have become commonplace, pop-up restaurants have allowed for chefs and aspirants to present a cuisine or creative venture to a gathering that's often smaller than a restaurant crowd and larger than a dinner party. Yet as the concept matures, its purpose has diversified, allowing potential restaurateurs to test-drive dishes and cocktails, or even to train staff. Pop-ups also plant seeds for a loyal following. This is particularly true in the case of Fukuda, the sushi restaurant slated for 4770 Liberty Ave. in Bloomfield.

Papered windows hide the interior buildout in progress, while sushi chef Matt Kemp and partner Hoon Kim stage a sushi bar out front nearly every day. The purpose? To feel out diners' response to sushi and sashimi dishes, which they can order a la carte or omakase. The restaurant, scheduled to open within the next couple weeks, is named after Mr. Kim's father who is Japanese.

Mr. Kim said navigating the space has been easier than expected, since its former life as Stagioni secured grandfathered permits for Fukuda. "The process of opening this restaurant has been very organic," said Mr. Kim. "We have found the right people who are focused on quality and traditional aspects of Japanese culture and cuisine. We have been very lucky."

Until the permanent location opens in the next couple of weeks, the duo has set for itself a near-full schedule outside the Bloomfield location from 1 to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and from 1 to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. They also make appearances at Food Truck Friday outside Bar Marco in the Strip District (from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. )as well as at Shadow Lounge in East Liberty on Sundays during Steelers games.

Tic Toc Time Out

A paint job and new lighting will serve Tic Toc Restaurant a face lift while the restaurant closes for the week. A stopover for ladies who lunch, their spouses and grandkids, the historic spot housed in Macy's Downtown will maintain its wall of clocks when it reopens to the public Monday, Sept. 18 at 11 a.m. Fans of dishes from a by-gone era will be pleased. The original menu remains for now.

Alla Famiglia Is Still Serving

Owner Jonathan Vlasic said he is fielding calls from confused patrons asking whether Alla Famiglia has closed. To clarify: Alla Famiglia is alive and well. The calls, he said, are in response to an Aug. 30 article in the Post-Gazette reporting the closure of sibling Emilia Romagna and Bar ER in the Strip District just months after opening. Taking reservations as you read, the restaurant has never closed nor will it anytime soon. Another sister restaurant, Arlecchino in McMurray, also is open and alive and well.

Melissa McCart:


Hot Topic