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TRANSITIONS

By Eric E. Harrison

This article was published March 29, 2012 at 3:05 a.m.

— Dona’s Little Italy was expected to open Wednesday (just after our press time) in the former Bruno’s Little Italy location, 315 N. Bowman Road, Little Rock. The menu features appetizers and salads; traditional Italian veal, chicken, seafood and pasta dishes; and pizzas, calzones and strombolis. Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. The telephone number is (501) 225-6168.

We’ve reported that the River Market Grocery in the River Market Ottenheimer Market Hall, 400 President Clinton Ave., was expanding into the space vacated by Milton’s Best Hot Dog Stand. We’ve recently learned that in that space they’ll be establishing the Garden Square Cafe, which will offer some of the vegetarian items that are available at the commonly owned 4Square across the street. River Market spokesman Diana Mc-Clung says there’s no tenant yet for the next-door space vacated by Pasta Jack’s.

And speaking of the River Market, chef Travis Meyer is tweaking the menu at his Cinco Entrees, based on a couple of months of seeing what’s working and what isn’t. He’ll be keeping his pork, fish and pasta entrees; his less frequently ordered Southern-fried, bone-in airline cut chicken quarter and cherrywood-smoked barbecued beef brisket will come off the menu but will still show up as daily specials. And he’s working on some kind of mac-and-cheese option to tantalize the hordes of school groups that show up in the River Market.

McClung also reports that the Crumbs Bake Shop next to Cinco Entrees, expected to open in the next couple of weeks, will be run by a local baker and not connected in any way with the mini-chain of the same name, which sells fancy cupcakes at locations in the New York area and in the tonier suburbs of Los Angeles. You can check that operation out at crumbs.com.

Eight U.S. Pizza branches in central Arkansas — Little Rock (Rodney Parham Road, Fair Park Boulevard, Heights and Hillcrest), Maumelle, North Little Rock (McCain Park Drive and Levy) and Sherwood — will donate 10 percent of all dinner food sales today to Our House, which helps homeless people find permanent housing.

One of our sharp-eyed readers spotted the lights burning at the former Masala Grill & Teahouse, in the Ashley Square Shopping Center, North Rodney Parham and Reservoir roads, and a peek through the window revealed new tables, booths and decor. If anybody has a handle on what’s moving in there, please let us know.

You may recall last week we reported that Little Rock’s first Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes outlet was expected to open in mid-May at 14810 Cantrell Road, which has been housing a Blue Coast Burrito location. With the help of a sharp-eyed colleague, we can now report that the lease ran out on the build-your-own burrito franchise and they’re in talks to move to Midtown. We’ll keep you posted.

Here’s the first scoop on April 8 Easter meals:

The Arkansas Queen Riverboat will offer an Easter Lunch Cruise on the Arkansas River — board at 100 Riverfront Park Drive at 12:30 p.m., cruise departs at 1 and returns at 3. The menu will be garden salad, choice of roasted pork tenderloin or Queen’s Chicken, scalloped potatoes, Southern-style green beans, whole-kernel corn, dinner rolls, “captain’s dessert,” tea, water and coffee (soda and alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase). Cost is $32.50, $18.95 for children 3-10 (plus tax), one child 10 and under free with each paying adult. Call (501) 372-5777 or visit arkansasqueen.com for mandatory reservations.

The Peabody Little Rock, West Markham and Louisiana streets, will offer its annual Easter Sunday Brunch, 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m., with salad, seafood, omelet and dessert stations; and entrees of seared chicken breast with marsala mushroom sauce, ovenroasted red snapper, roast prime rib of beef, honey-mustardglazed ham and roasted rack of lamb. Cost: $44.95 (including complimentary valet parking), $15.95 for children 6-11, free for children 5 and under. Make the required reservations by calling (501) 399-8062.

Evette Brady, owner-chef of Restaurant 1620, 1620 Market St., Little Rock, will once again be holding “Mrs. Evette’s Spring Theme Cooking Classes,” 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. April 10-11. Cost is $50, which will include lunch. Call (501) 221-1620.

Lee Richardson, executive chef at Ashley’s at the Capital Hotel, who was a semifinalist for the “Best Chef: South” in this year’s James Beard Foundation Awards, didn’t make the cut when the foundation announced the five finalists last week. Four of them, unsurprisingly, are from New Orleans — Justin Devillier, La Petite Grocery; John Harris, Lilette; Tory McPhail, Commander’s Palace; and Alon Shaya, Domenica; the fifth is Chris Hastings of the Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Ala.

And Main Street Rogers Inc., with support from the Rogers Convention and Visitors Bureau, is hosting the first “Dining in the District: Downtown Rogers Restaurant Week,” in which participating eateries will offer special two- or three-course, fixed-price menus (tax and gratuity not included), Sunday-April 7. The participants are Bread ’N’ Butter Bakery, Chicago Dog, Cook’s Natural Market, Rail Pizza Company, Rolando’s Nuevo Latino Restaurante, Susie Q Malt Shop and Wesner’s Grill. Call (479) 936-5487 or visit MainStreetRogers.com.

Has a restaurant opened — or closed — near you in the last week or so? Does your favorite eatery have a new menu? Is there a new chef in charge? Drop us a line. Call (501) 399-3667 or (501) 378-3513, or send a note to Restaurants, Weekend Section, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 121 E. Capitol Ave., Little Rock, Ark. 72201. Send e-mail to:

eharrison@arkansasonline.com

Weekend, Pages 34 on 03/29/2012

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