A swoop of black granite countertops says it all. "This is the best kitchen we've ever had," Johnny Giavos raves of his new holdings on the Boulevard, "and it's the first one we've designed from scratch."
The place is Kitchen 64, a North Side addition to the Giavos chain (Sidewalk, Kuba Kuba, Three Monkeys) that opened last week, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.
The kitchen is a stainless wonder, with Kristen and Ted Perkinson at the helm and the legendary Stella Dikos adding character to the line, if not stealing the show. Her breads, desserts and signature dishes complement a full-range menu: a dozen salads, six variations on hot dogs (served cased, not skinless), as many burgers, a North Side special flat-iron steak, fish tacos, Greek nachos and pizzas. Beers and wines are selected from smaller domestic sources.
Giavos, his wife, Katrina, and Ernest von Ofenheim are owners. CeCe Wolfe is day manager, and Kenny Krushelniski is responsible for the blond maple booths and wall paneling that have lightened the look and feel of the former Zippy's at 3336 N. Boulevard.
Ed Trask murals, including one of Katrina and Johnny as children, link the place to others in the Giavos empire. They also show neighborhood scenes a nearby train trestle in one painting and men in uniform in another, homage to the building's past as a police station.
With indoor and outdoor seating, the green-speckled, lighted-from-beneath Avonite bar will serve two areas. A doggy park on a strip of grass at the back will appease dog owners. The Nacho Shack adjacent to the parking lot will become an ice-cream stand this summer, staffed by soccer-playing kids from the neighborhood, including at least one of the Giavoses' progeny.
It's not a diner, though the spinning dessert case hearkens to New Jersey roots; this is something more modern. And it is adamantly smoke-free, setting it apart from the other Giavos places and appealing to a more family-oriented crowd, at least by day.
Even the most die-hard Indian-food lovers are likely to find new dishes on the buffet table during Bombay Day, a luncheon feast at India Garden & Grill Monday, May 28, from noon till 3.
The event at 9550 Midlothian Turnpike has become an annual highlight for the local Indian community and others with a taste for the harder-to-find menu items, such as pani puri bread puffs stuffed with sprouts and chutney and dipped in a hot-and-sour sauce and dal dhokli, dahi wada, pooran poli and sev puri. Price is $14.95. Outdoor dining is available, and reservations are recommended at 320-5010.