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New sports pub has a solid game plan in Wake Forest

This is a post by N&O restaurant critic Greg Cox:

My Place (2108 S. Main St.; 919-761-5009; myplacewakeforest.com) brings a number of features which should guarantee it an eager welcome in Wake Forest.

For starters, the sports pub brings new life to a building that has stood vacant since Old Chicago closed several years ago. Unlike its national chain predecessor, My Place is owned by a partnership of locals looking to create a neighborhood gathering place.

Given the neighborhood, it isn’t surprising that My Place is family-friendly. A kids’ menu covers the spectrum from corn dog to pizza to chicken tenders for $5.99, including one side and a beverage.

The grownups’ menu pushes all the right buttons, too, with an eclectic offering that includes the usual sports pub fare as well as a few surprises such as Cajun pork rinds and the Green Eggs and Ham burger (with a fried green tomato, sunny side up egg and bacon).

A late night menu, served until 2 a.m. on Thursday-Saturday, is a good bet to keep the home team at home, sparing them weekend road trips to Raleigh.

My Place’s selection of 30 draft brews (including ten locals), and 50 bottled beers is, to my knowledge, the most extensive in Wake Forest. That should pretty much guarantee a win.

Send restaurant news to Greg at ggcox@bellsouth.net. Be sure to tune in to Greg's radio show at 11 a.m. Saturdays on WPTF.

Restaurant News: New sweet temptations in Durham and Morrisville

This is a post by N&O restaurant critic Greg Cox:

The Parlour, known to local food truck fans as the cute mini school bus that serves homemade ice cream, has opened a brick-and-mortar location in downtown Durham (117 Market St.; 919-564-7999; theparlourdurham.com). There are quite a few of those fans, evidently, as the shop sold out on Saturday. Owners Yani and Vanessa Mazuz took yesterday off to crank out more ice cream.

The shop should be back to normal hours this week (Tuesday-Sunday from noon to 10 pm.) With a rotating selection of flavors that includes the likes of ginger dulce de leche and brown sugar roasted apple - not to mention ice cream sandwiches and other confections - looks like the churns won't be slowing down anytime soon.

The wheels on the bus will continue to go round and round, too. Follow them on Twitter (@parlourdurham) for the mini bus schedule.

Meanwhile in Morrisville, Batterz Up (10123 Chapel Hill Road; 919-244-3354; batterzupsweets.com) has opened in the old Morrisville Café building. Owner/baker Abby Broadway has given the space a complete makeover with a cheery coat of pink paint and display cases full of sweet temptations. She specializes in cupcakes, but will also offer morning pastries and coffees from Red Rooster Coffee Roaster in Wake Forest.

Hours of operation appear to be still shaking out. The shop is closed today, and scheduled to be open this week Tuesday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1-5 p.m.

Send restaurant news to Greg at ggcox@bellsouth.net. Be sure to tune in to Greg's radio show at 11 a.m. Saturdays on WPTF.

With Raleigh restaurants, is beauty in the eye of the beholder?

I had a puzzling phone conversation with a reader today. He and his wife had done some drive-bys to see the exact locations of some well-regarded Raleigh restaurants. What he saw surprised him and during our conversation I was struck by how worlds apart I was from this man in terms of our evaluation of restaurants.

He specifically mentioned Poole's and Bida Manda. Where I see the charm in Poole's modern update of this former diner, he saw a "dump" and wondered why a James Beard finalist didn't pick a better restaurant location. Where I see the sleek Asian design of Bida Manda, he again failed to see any beauty.

As we were talking, he mentioned Bruno, a steakhouse near Wake Forest, as a restaurant aesthetic that he liked. He called it "charming." I've never eaten at Bruno so I don't know what it looks like. But Greg Cox gave it four stars so I know it is a worthy dining destination. (Go HERE to read Greg's review.)

I urged the gentleman to look beyond whether he likes the look of the place and taste the food. But I'm still scratching my head about this phone call.

Is this a generational divide among diners? He seemed older than my 38 years, maybe close to 60. Is it based on a person's prior dining experience? He said he and his wife moved here from Boston. Are big city restaurants really that much different than what's here in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill? Or maybe some folks have very different ideas about what a restaurant experience should be? I'm as happy to eat off a food truck as dine at Lantern in Chapel Hill. Maybe others don't see dining that way. How can two people be so far apart on the beauty of a place?

What do you think?

Instant Analysis: Wake fans caught at crossroads

It was C.J. Harris’ final game at Wake Forest. It was almost certainly not Jeff Bzdelik’s. Both those circumstances left Demon Deacons fans with their tie-dye in a twist.

A group of disgruntled Wake fans raised enough money to buy a banner ad at the bottom of the Greensboro News & Record sports page Thursday -- apparently, on each of the four days of the tournament -- demanding coach Bzdelik’s firing.

That movement will surely only gather momentum after Thursday’s 75-62 loss to Maryland, the Demon Deacons’ seventh straight in the ACC tournament. (They haven’t won an ACC tournament game since 2007, when the late Skip Prosser was coaching.)

Pack throttles Wake, 81-66

RALEIGH N.C. State let a 16-point lead slip away at Wake Forest in January. C.J. Leslie wouldn't let that happen on Wednesday night, not in the Wolfpack's final home game of the season, not with the real season about to begin.

Leslie's 19 points and 10 rebounds helped N.C. State throttle Wake Forest 81-66 for the Pack's sixth win in seven games and third straight at home by double-digits. N.C. State (22-8, 11-6 ACC) closed out its home schedule with a 16-1 record, including an 8-1 mark in the ACC.

It was the final home game together for State's veteran quartet of Leslie, Richard Howell, Scott Wood and Lorenzo Brown. Howell and Wood were honored on Senior Night and then Leslie proceeded to do the heavy lifting.

Restaurant News: Vivo! comes to life in North Raleigh

This is a post by N&O restaurant critic Greg Cox:

Gianni Cinelli, one of the Cinelli brothers of local pizzeria fame, is back in action. And this time he's aiming higher.

Cinelli, whose latest venture (Gianni's in Wake Forest) has closed, has turned his attention to Vivo! (no website yet, but you can find it on Facebook), which he opened in late January in North Raleigh's Peachtree Market shopping center.

An emphasis on scratch preparation is reflected in everything from meatballs to lasagna noodles to fresh mozzarella, made daily. Pastas not made in house are imported from Italy, as are San Marzano tomatoes and cheeses bought by the wheel.

The menu focuses on regional Italian fare, from linguine Amatriciana (authentically prepared with guanciale) to gnocchi bianco in sage-butter-cream sauce to slow-roasted porchetta served with baby red potatoes.

"This time, I want to cook the foods I ate in Italy, before I came to America," Cinelli says. As a nod to market realities, he's also making a few Italian-American favorites - "chicken parm and such, the food a lot of people expect when they go to an Italian restaurant."

Naturally, being a Cinelli, he can't resist offering pizza, too.

Vivo! (7400 Six Forks Road, Raleigh; 919-845-6700) is open for lunch and dinner daily. To see their Facebook page, go HERE.

Send restaurant news to Greg at ggcox@bellsouth.net. Be sure to tune in to Greg's radio show at 11 a.m. Saturdays on WPTF.

Shrove Tuesday pancake suppers and Lenten fish frys on the horizon

Lent is just around the corner and so are Shrove Tuesday pancake suppers and Friday night fish fries.

Here are two that popped up on my radar:

  • Wake Forest's Hope Lutheran Church will serve an all-you-can-eat pancakes and sausage dinner Tuesday night. The meal costs $7 for adults, $4 for children 4-13, and free for children 3 and under. The maximum cost for a family is $22.
    The church is at 3525 Rogers Road. For more information, call 919-554-0412 or hopelutheranwf.org.
  • The Knights of Columbus Council 7186 will serve fried fish Feb. 15, March 1 and March 15 at St. Mary Magdalene in Apex. The dinner is offered, dine-in or take-out, from 5:30 to 7:45 p.m. There is free babysitting while parents enjoy the meal. The church is at 625 Magdala Place. Diners can pre-order their meals online at www.lentfishfry.com.
  • St. Michael the Archangel Church in Cary is hosting its annual Lenten fish frys every Friday until March 22. Lunch is served 11 a.m.-1 p.m and dinner is served from 5-7 p.m. Both dine-in and take-out are available. The menu includes fried or baked fish, roasted potatoes, green beans, hush puppies, dessert and a choice of beverage. Childrens' meals include fish sticks, macaroni and cheese, hush puppies, dessert and a beverage. The prices are $8 for adults and $4 for children for lunch, and $10 for adults and $4 for children for dinner. Or you can order a family special for $28, which includes two adult meals or three or more children's meals.
    If you are a fan of polka, the Polka Plus Band will perform during the March 8 dinner service. The church is at 804 High House Rd., Cary. Call in a take-out order at 919-468-6126 or order online at spicecubed.com/fish.

And if you know of any more, please share them in the comments below!

Demon Deacons defeat foul-prone Wolfpack 86-84

WINSTON-SALEM — N.C. State didn't know who Devin Thomas was before Tuesday's game. The Wolfpack does now.

With 25 points and 14 rebounds, Thomas led Wake Forest to an improbable 86-84 win over No. 18 N.C. State on Tuesday at Joel Coliseum. It was the second straight road loss for the Wolfpack and the second straight time an opposing fan base rushed the court.

Thomas, a freshman forward, made sure the Wake (10-8, 3-3 ACC) fans could celebrate their first win over in-state ACC opponent under third-year coach Jeff Bzdelik.

Game preview: Duke vs. Wake Forest


ACC action opens up for Duke with a tilt against Wake Forest. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY

Duke vs. Wake Forest
When: 12:02 p.m.
Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham
TV/Radio: ESPNU/WKIX-102.9 FM
Motivation? Get back to winning conference games at home

Projected starting lineups:

No. 1 Duke (13-0)
G Quinn Cook, So., 11.1 ppg, 5.6 apg
G Seth Curry, Sr., 16.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg
G Rasheed Sulaimon, Fr., 11.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg
F Ryan Kelly, Sr., 12.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg
F Mason Plumlee, Sr., 18.8 ppg, 11.2 rpg

Wake Forest (7-5)
G Codi Miller-McIntyre, Fr., 8.5 ppg, 3.0 apg
G C.J. Harris, Sr., 14.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg
F Arnaud William Adala Moto, Fr., 4.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg
F Devin Thomas, Fr., 6.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg
F Traivs McKie, Jr., 14.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg

Player to watch:

Travis McKie, Wake Forest

Wake Forest barbecue sauce wins 1st place

Dimples BBQ Sauce, the creation of Wake Forest couple Rich and Jan Campana, placed first in the tomato mild contest at the National BBQ Festival's 2012 best of the best barbecue sauce competition in Douglas, GA.

The sauce also won reserve grand champion.

Jan Campana explained that she and her husband moved to the Triangle eight years ago from California and became immersed in North Carolina's barbecue culture. Her husband joined a competition barbecue team and started testing sauce recipes. After lots of positive feedback, Jan Campana, then a stay-at-home mom, decided to try to turn their sauce recipe into a business. Two years ago, Dimples BBQ Sauce was launched.

A 16-ounce jar costs $5 online at dimplesbbqsauce.com. The website also lists local retailers that carry the sauce.

We're giving away a jar of Dimples BBQ sauce, thanks to Jan and Rich Campana. To enter to win, leave a comment below this post before noon, Friday, Jan. 25. I'll choose a winner at random and the Campanas will send you the sauce. Good luck.

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