Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Restaurant news: dim sum, Pizookies and Mediterranean food

FOOD ASIAN COOKING DINING CHINESE NOODLE BRUNCH LUNCH DAYTIME MEAL ORIENTALDim sum, anyone? The Golden Horse Chinese restaurant at 4313 N. Blackstone Avenue, near Ashlan started offering dim sum this week. The menu features everything from chicken feet with abalone sauce to mango pudding. Customers check off what they want on a menu with the little dumplings organized into columns by price.

People always seem to excitedly say “oh dim sum!” whenever it’s mentioned. In fact, it may be time to do a story just on dim sum. Any die-hard dim sum fans care to share why they like it much?

In other news, today is free Pizookie day at BJ’s restaurant. The dessert whose name stems from pizza and cookie (though who are we kidding, this is all cookie) and is served with ice cream is free, but there’s a catch. You need to download the restaurant’s app and use the dine-in order ahead feature to get the free chocolate chunk Pizookie.

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Pardini’s Cafe to close, reopen as new restaurant

pardinisPardini’s Cafe is closing — but it isn’t the end for the restaurant run by the Pardini family. The decades-old restaurant at 2257 W. Shaw Ave. will close Tuesday and undergo major remodeling. It will reopen in early 2015 as a different restaurant with a new name. That name hasn’t been chosen yet. Note that I’m talking about the restaurant here, not the catering business. That will continue as normal and its banquet halls in the same building will remain open.

After so many years in business, the family decided the cafe needed a change, said Jimmy Pardini, son of restaurateur Jim Pardini. Jimmy Pardini will be the chef at the new restaurant and will bring his Italian cooking background to the menu. Expect lots of pasta, wood-fired pizza, steak and other meat options. The new place will be open for lunch and dinner and probably brunch on weekends. It will add a bar too, which the restaurant doesn’t currently have. And it will look very different, with many of the booths ripped out and replaced with tables and a counter. You can read the message the restaurant wrote on its Facebook page about the changes here.

You still have a chance to go say goodbye to the old restaurant. And here’s the coolest part: The restaurant will donate 100% of its sales on Monday and Tuesday to the Boys & Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Swanky new wine bar opens in Tower

The new Cuvée Spirit & Wine Parlor looks more like something you’d stumble upon in San Francisco’s Union Square than in the Tower District. Swanky, I think, is the best word to describe it.

The new wine bar is at 1140 North Van Ness Ave., just south of Olive Avenue. The owners have put a lot of effort into making this spot look nothing like the Hungry Howie’s Pizza and the mixed-martial arts store it used to be.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but as for the experience, expect modern lounge music soft enough to hear yourself talk and waitresses clad in black, skin-tight clothing.

It’s definitely a different vibe from the more down-to-earth Pinot Wine Bar down the street on Olive Avenue. Different wines too: Where Pinot carries wines from all over the world, Cuvée serves only wines from California and France.

There’s food too, with small plates and appetizers ranging from sweet potato fries to plates of cheese and chocolate. Their wine and food menus are online here.

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Two new hot dog restaurants open

Fresno’s next big food trend? The hot dog, at least if two new hot dog restaurants are any indication.

  • California Hot Dogs — or Cal Dogs for short — opened last month in the Dewitt Building at 543 Pollasky Ave. in the former Salsa’s location. (Salsa’s moved down the street to 410 Clovis Ave.)

Cal Dogs combines hot dogs with California history, and even has a mascot — Gus the Gold Miner.

All 20-plus hot dogs are named after California history. There’s the Hidalgo dog, for example, a hot dog served with enchilada sauce and jack cheese, wrapped in a tortilla and topped with chilies. It’s named after the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War in 1848. The menu is at left. Click on it to make it bigger.

Cal Dogs is run by the Taliaferro family, who also run Serenity Funeral Services — no connection between the businesses other than family, they stress. The family is confident this restaurant concept will work because they’ve done it before. About 27 years ago the family ran a similar restaurant in the Bay Area. It was successful, but with babies at home they put aside the restaurant to focus on family — until now. Now those babies — Ross and Chris Taliaferro — are running the restaurant.

Is Bentley’s closing the demise of River View?


The news that Bentley’s is closing didn’t really surprise me. Joan had reported that the bistro closed and speculated about the future of the store.

Things seemed pretty shaky to me about a month ago when I visited Zen Spa, where I get my hair done, and realized only four stylists were left working there. It was kind of sad. I really noticed that foot traffic was way down in the center and there were a lot of empty parking spaces.

So, what happened? How did the RiverView shopping center go from the hot spot to this slow demise. Is it just the economy? With the former Flamenco restaurant space still vacant and Bentley’s getting out, it makes me wonder if the other stores and restaurants can make it. (I hear the Red Door may be out too? Anyone know for sure? The phone is disconnected.)

I brain-stormed today, trying to think what business could possibly fill the Bentley’s anchor spot in the center. All I can think of is Trader Joe’s, and I have a hard time believing they would add a third store in the area. It took what seemed like eons for the Clovis store to open. Anyone have a guess? Or a wish?

If I had to push for something different, maybe someone could open one of these restaurant/movie theater places.