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By Eric E. Harrison

This article was published March 14, 2013 at 2:10 a.m.

— In case you missed the big news earlier this week, we can now answer the No. 1 question we get on the area restaurant scene: “When is Bruno’s Little Italy going to reopen?” And the answer is August, in downtown Little Rock, on the ground floor of the new Mann on Main office-lofts-retail complex at 310 Main Street.

You will recall that the restaurant, then in its fourth location in the Colonnade Shopping Center, 315 N. Bowman Road, closed in October 2011. The Bruno family has been in search of a good fit since, and got one from the downtown project developers, which includes Moses Tucker Real Estate, whose principals, Jimmy Moses and Rett Tucker, have been long-long-longtime Bruno’s patrons and who may have wanted the place open even more than the family, if that’s possible. Vince Bruno, son of founder Jimmy Bruno, who was the chef and last remaining Bruno on the premises when the restaurant closed, will return as chef-owner; his brother Gio will be his business partner.

The 3,000-square-foot restaurant in the three-story Mann Annex Building (part of the former Blass Department Store) will seat 70 inside and 30 on the patio. And yes, it will have a pizza window, through which diners can watch the pizza makers toss the dough; some Bruno’s patrons will remember it was a prime feature in previous locations on Roosevelt Road and Old Forge Drive, butnot on Bowman, where the kitchen design didn’t permit it.

The dinner menu will closely resemble, with a few changes, the most recent one from Bowman Road, with Neapolitan-style pizza, handmade pasta dishes and a selection of chicken, veal and seafood entrees, all based on nearly seven-decade-old family recipes. The lunch menu is still under construction, but you might,if you ate lunch at Roosevelt or Old Forge, remember the Italian sandwiches that Vince Bruno hopes he’ll be able to bring back.

The new Bruno’s will be open for lunch and dinner, hours to be announced, but they’re expecting to have a 4-5 p.m. semi-“happy hour” before officially opening for dinner for commuters to pick to-go orders. Parking will be available either on the street or in a 415-space deck being built on the back side of the building.

Austin, Texas-based Chuy’s Restaurants is making a big splash with its official announcement earlier this week that it will open its first Arkansas Chuy’s Fine Tex Mex (it’s pronounced CHEW-ies) restaurant May 7 in the Chenal Marketplace, 16001 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock. (Nobody is mentioning, however, that we broke the news in this very column Jan. 31.) In a news release, local owner-operator Dayne Kelleynotes that unlike most chains, each Chuy’s is unique, but patrons can expect “an eclectic decor complete with an Elvis Shrine.” The menu promises “quality Tex-Mex cuisine …authentic family recipes from south Texas, New Mexico and Mexican border towns, [including] Stuffed Chile Rellenos, Chicka-Chicka-Boom-Boom Enchiladas and Chuy’s famous “Big As Yo’ Face Burritos.” Chuy’s also promises to partner with a local charity, to be announced in April. In the meanwhile, check out the website,, or the Facebook page, ChuysLittleRock.

And the second west Little Rock Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes opened Monday at 10825 Kanis Road, just west of Shackleford Road. (The first one opened several months ago on Cantrell Road at Taylor Loop.) Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. The phone number is (501) 313-4905.

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:

Weekend, Pages 40 on 03/14/2013

Print Headline: TRANSITIONS


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