We're usually content with a single restaurant launch, but the new year has granted us two. Chefs Keba Parker and Sharron Barshishat confirmed their respective spots intend to open in the not-so-distant future. As soon as 30 days, give or take a dealbreaking permit. You restauranteurs know how it goes. Acting as both chef and owner has its share of benefits and headaches.
Forkers who aren't as familiar with either cuisine are in luck, as a reminder of their delicious concepts is definitely in order. Let's start with our local luxe lonchera done good.
Keba's spot is the former home of both Cafe Chiarini and Ketri. Sitting on the corner of 3rd and Olive, A Bite Cafe's cozy courtyard almost makes one forget they are blocks from courthouses and jury duty. Offering morning and afternoon bites, his hot breakfasts feature a cheesy hashbrown waffle, comprised of shredded cheddar and potato, poached egg and mango habanero sour cream. Lunchtime bites revolve around pulled pork and stacked burgers. Vegans can rejoice, as Keba's coconut curry risotto with blackberry gastrique never left. New England chowda, Caesar greens and grilled cheese love are always available. We are eyeing a cubano nuevo and his herb-crusted, blue fin tuna salad, topped with Pecorino Toscano, cured olives and tomatoes.
If you've been following the paninoteca, you'll know that Sharron Barshishat's journey was a long one. From the downstairs of his residence at City Place, to a borrowed lonchera to a great deal of resistance from the city, we are almost as relieved as he is that his labor is coming to fruition. For both chefs, the opportunity to work in a much larger, functioning kitchen means the possibilities are endless compared to their prior spaces. Per Sharron, "Paninoteca Maggio is first and foremost a panini shop. In our new location, we stay true to what we stand for, as a small and very focused, authentic Italian eatery." Their new location is literally around the corner from Little Sparrow, off Main Street and 3rd.
The biggest change to his menu is a selection of freshly prepared pasta dishes. Sharron's signature espresso service (featuring his exclusive to Orange County, Segafredo brand) will be back to welcome early risers at 6 a.m., alongside pastries and to-go meals. Bonus: 5-minute parking stalls right outside, plus curbside coffee service. Don't you fret about those paninis– the Amalfi and Toscana are definitely returning.
Once doors are open, you bet your ass we'll be reporting back with food porn. Stay tuned.
You can follow A Bite Truck (soon to be Cafe) at www.abitetruck.com. Keep informed with Paninoteca Maggio at www.paninotecamaggio.com. We suggest monitoring their Facebook and Instagram accounts for updated information.