Wood-fired pizza is a sure-bet specialty that keeps on coming in Richmond, competition be damned. The newest case in point, Flames 231, is named after a train that got trapped in the collapse of the Church Hill tunnel, not far from the smartly restored warehouse where the business opened in mid-September. Flames 231 may have tragic roots, but with Italian wines and a range of pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and even veal panini, the future seems more hopeful for owner Danny Taormina, who also opened Brunetti's Express in Mechanicsville in June. Lunch at Flames 231 is served Monday through Saturday, with dinner and bar nightly. 423 N. 18th St. 977-1300.
Baja departure: At Baja Bean Co., one of the Fan's busiest patios, the gig is up after 12 years. The landmark corner building is getting a facelift and the space is being marketed to prospective tenants, while Baja the business (with siblings at Station 2 in Richmond and other Bajas in Charlottesville and Staunton) looks at properties near Virginia Commonwealth University to keep the local watering hole open. (More on the "Save Baja" effort in "Punch Drunk," page 42.)
Chef roulette: Philip Denny, the award-winning chef with "foie gras" tattooed on his knuckles, moves from the former Six Burner to another food-lover's destination, Aziza's on Main.
Grits optional: Tastebuds, one of the North Side's intimate go-to spots for seasonal fare, now serves Sunday brunch from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Choices include wild mushroom bread pudding with poached egg; butternut squash, apple and bacon crepe; pork adobo over root-vegetable hash with fried egg; and potato cakes with smoked salmon. Sandwiches, sliders and sides round out the menu, with most items about $10. 4019 MacArthur Ave. 261-6544. tastebudsamericanbistro.com.
Fair to midway: Even if fried Twinkies are yesterday's news, the State Fair of Virginia has food on the brain, and plenty of opportunities to learn to grow and taste it. Producers of peanuts, honey, pumpkins and all sorts of locally grown produce and livestock are showcased Sept. 28 through Oct. 7 at Meadow Event Park in Doswell. statefairva.org.
Supper club: Chef Carly Herring of C'est Le Vin is the test pilot for a new monthly supper club started by Melissa Krumbein, owner of Kitchen Thyme. Local chefs will present menus that give them a chance to stretch. For the first, Sept. 30, Herring presents a four-course, fine-dining brunch with seatings at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. The cost is $45, and includes an alcoholic beverage and tax. A cash bar will be open. Reserve with cash only at Kitchen Thyme, 7801 W. Broad St., or C'est Le Vin, 15 N. 17th St.
Full bird: It's a packed house most weekends in Carver's culinary attraction the Magpie — a gratifying response for chef and owners Owen Lane and his bride, Tiffany Gellner, who risked it all to open the place last year. Midweek business includes a chef's tasting menu on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, in four-, five- and six-course versions. See themagpierva.com for promotions that play to moviegoers, restaurant industry folks and those with inquisitive palates.
Adios pollo: Chicken Mania, the fragrant Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken joint, has closed for good — although owners say they may try another venture in Richmond in the coming months. A pizza restaurant plans to move into the building at 7524 Forest Hill Ave.
Hola Selosa: Mrs. Marshall's Carytown Café has a fresh lime-and-gray look and a new name: Selosa, a boutique deli. Not to fear: sandwich maker Wanda's still there, and so are the toothsome BLTs.
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