Southern Heat, a cookbook by Anthony Lamas and Gwen Pratesi
“Southern Heat,” a cookbook by Anthony Lamas and Gwen Pratesi

“Heat” off the press: Anthony Lamas’ much anticipated cookbook, “Southern Heat: New Southern Cooking Latin Style,” is finally available for cooks eager for practical insight into Lamas’ cooking style and technique, as well as some stories about what drives the popular chef and co-owner of Seviche. Copies are available at Amazon, but you can get them signed at the restaurant, and quite possibly, a pic with the chef himself.

New book aside, Seviche is hosting a Southern BBQ Picnic this Sunday, Oct. 25, to celebrate its 10th year in business. John Apple of Pig Miracle will smoke meats on the patio, and Lamas will prepare side dishes from “Southern Heat.” Expect lots of adult beverage bargains, too. The buffet feast runs from 1-3 p.m. and costs $19 unless you’re a child 10 or younger. They get their grub on for free. Visit Seviche’s Facebook page for more details.

When will this Greek’s odyssey end? I know this is a shocker, but Greek restaurateur Maria Bell has moved again (as IL reported in Monday’s Business Briefing). Even though she told Business First in February that Chef Maria’s Bistro (107 W. Oak St.) was “what I’m predicting to retire from,” she closed up shop earlier this month and moved, chasing a siren song promising better prospects anywhere other than the place bearing her name on the door.

Maria Bell, Greek restaurateur. | Photo courtesy of Facebook
Maria Bell, Greek restaurateur | Courtesy of Facebook

According to her Facebook page, she’s returning to St. Matthews at 106 Fairfax Ave., the strip center shared by SuperChefs. If I’m not mistaken, that’s where her restaurant was last year, right?

If you’re like me, you not only lost count of the number of restaurant slots she’s filled and vacated in the 14 years she’s been in Louisville, you’ve lost interest in her constant rebranding of the same “authentic Greek food.”

Also if you’re like me, you found her charming and funny, which made it easy to cheer for this seemingly determined and self-driven businesswoman. But in such a hotly contested restaurant market, such constant moving around and renaming of her concept is, at the very least, odd and off-putting. It does little to build a loyal customer base and, I’d imagine, does even less to please landlords typically fond of five- and 10-year leases.

You had a good run, Sonny: Not sure how many reading this remember Lentini’s Italian Restaurant, but its founder, Sonny Lentini, died Oct. 18. He founded the restaurant in 1962 and operated it until 2000. Operators other than the family ran it until a few years ago, and now it’s home to Café Mimosa (1543 Bardstown Road).

No, it wasn’t my favorite Italian restaurant, but it was pretty good. It was the first place I ever had pizza (in 1969), and the last place I ever ordered lasagna out … for a high school dance in … geez … 1982? Plus, in that way such things happen in Louisville, the nation’s biggest small town, his son, Mike, was in my kindergarten class. Haven’t seen him since.

The restaurant built a good following despite operating in the heyday of formidable Italian standards like Casa, Mama and Ferd Grisanti’s. Lentini’s food wasn’t close to being as good as those, but the fact is it outlasted two of those three Grisanti establishments, as well as a punishing blow from the tornado of 1974.

WHAS-TV’s Doug Profitt penned a nice piece about his memories of the place.

BBC downtown launching Bluegrass “Cubed” series in November: As we mentioned last week, Bluegrass Brewing Co.’s downtown operation (300 W. Main St.) will launch what will become an extended series of food and beverage events dubbed Bluegrass Cubed (that’s cubed in the mathematical sense of the exponent “3,” which I don’t know how to form in MS Word). According to Sean Haggerty, chef of catering at BBC’s Four Roses Bourbon Barrel Loft, the event space on its top floor, the use of cubed relates to the three-way mashup of local food, local drink and local music. During this first dinner, set for Wednesday, Nov. 4, from 6-9 p.m., guests will enjoy a four-course farm-to-table dinner that includes a Four Roses bourbon flight and live bluegrass music.

BBC Four Roses Bourbon Barrel Loft. | Photo courtesy of BBC.
BBC Four Roses Bourbon Barrel Loft | Courtesy of BBC

“Farm-to-table is not a trend, it’s a movement,” said Haggerty. “We want to feature food and drink and music from this great state to highlight that movement and what it means.”

The meal will include bites like Sheltowee Farms wild mushroom bruschetta, Marksbury Farms lamb chops with bourbon-mint glaze, and bourbon-laced bread pudding made from Nancy’s Bagel Grounds bagels.

Tastes of Four Roses bourbons will include a flight of its Yellow, Small Batch, Single Barrel and its fruity and fiery 2015 Limited Release Small Batch. Four Roses’ new master distiller, Brent Elliott, will be on hand to discuss the bourbon. (If you’re a bourbon geek, come make time just to meet him.)

Cost is $60 per person (plus tax and gratuity). To make reservations, call 562-0007.

Costumes, cocktails and chef collaborations at Over the 9: I’m not sure whether the Halloween plans for Over the 9 are freaky or classy or both, but it’s safe to say no one else is putting on an event anything like this in town (at least that I’ve seen). On Saturday, Oct. 31, the small plates restaurant (at 120 S. 10th St.) is hosting a four-chef, five-course collaboration dinner (two from LocalsOnly, two from After Midnight, the one-off dinners done by Over the 9) in the restaurant’s upstairs event space. Food alone is $55, but a paired-drinks-optional menu (always a good call, especially when have a designated driver) is offered for $25.

8UP's patio | Courtesy of 8UP
8UP’s patio | Courtesy of 8UP

One down for 8UP: 8UP Elevated Drinkery and Kitchen is celebrating its first year in  operation with a cocktail and appetizer party on Tuesday, Nov. 17, from 6-8 p.m. During those hours, you can drop by (sounds like the perfect after-work stop if you’re downtown) for complimentary snacks (pizzas from the wood-fired oven, among them), cupcakes and cocktails including the Clover Club (Bombay Sapphire Gin, lemon juice, raspberry syrup, egg white, Aphrodite-Lustau Fino Sherry, St. Germaine, Orange Bitters), and one of my faves, the Cherokee Triangle (Copper & Kings brandy, Bulleit Bourbon, Aperol and pomegranate bitters).

If you haven’t been there, 8UP is located atop the Hilton Garden Inn at 350 W. Chestnut St.

Correction: The original version of this post mistakenly stated Lentini’s closed its doors after Ferd Grisanti’s; the former closed in 2007, the latter in 2008.

Steve Coomes
Steve Coomes is a restaurant veteran turned award-winning food, spirits and travel writer. In his 24-year career, he has edited and written for multiple national trade and consumer publications including Nation's Restaurant News and Southern Living. He is a feature writer for Louisville magazine, Edible Louisville & The Bluegrass and Food & Dining Magazine. The author of two books, "Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke," and the "Home Distiller's Guide to Spirits," he also serves as a ghostwriter for multiple clients.