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The Food Guy: A heaping helping of restaurant news

With condolences still coming in over the loss of Moxxee and (as of this Friday) Happy Days Café, I have several more restaurant openings, closings and expansions to share.

Although the Firehouse Subs location at Southridge has shut its doors, a new Jersey Mike’s Subs will soon open across the road at Trace Fork next to Books-A-Million.

Also at Southridge, the new Rocas Mexican Grill where TGIFridays was looks like it’s getting closer to opening, a new (and very spacious, I might add) Starbucks has opened where Bob Evans used to be, and Red Fire Asian Grill has now become Osaka Japanese Steakhouse — but is no longer open for lunch during the week.

In other restaurant news, I was happy to learn that downtown Charleston’s Chow Thai has expanded its dining area by taking over an adjacent room at its Shrewsbury Street location and The Block is now open for dinner on Sundays until 9 p.m.

You’ve heard me complain often about the lack of downtown restaurants open on Sunday evenings, but there’s been some movement there of late. I recently wrote about Bricks & Barrels joining Black Sheep, Pies & Pints and Adelphia as places that are open that night, but didn’t realize The Block now does the same.

To see how those places are faring business-wise, I popped into all five of them (no kidding) this past Sunday night and they were all packed — with substantial waits at two of the five.

Note to other restaurants: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, people love to dine out on Sundays, too.

•••

Speaking of restaurant closings, I got quite a scare last week when a reader reached out to ask if one of my most beloved discoveries of the past few years — Bellissimo Pizza in Belle — had closed.“I totally enjoy reading your articles in the newspaper and often find new places we love from said articles,” Norma Morris wrote. “One that we have enjoyed many times is Bellissimo, which was awesome every time we visited! On our last trip, however, the doors were locked. Have you heard any news about them?”

It’s no exaggeration when I tell you my heart sank.

Thankfully, her latest visit was just a fluke and the restaurant is still open and thriving. I called this weekend to confirm they’re still in business, and there was so much noise in the background I could tell the place was hopping.

My heart soared once again.

You might remember the repeated love I’ve professed for this little place since discovering it a year ago — this week, actually. If you haven’t been yet, you really should check it out. And don’t leave without trying the Egyptian eggplant!

Bellissimo Pizza at 3433 W. Dupont Ave. in Belle is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday, 4:30-9:30 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Mondays. For more information, call 304-926-0332 or look up “BellissimoPizzaWV” on Facebook.

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Wow!Looks like many of you are just as passionate about Reubens as I am. When I told you I had a reader asking where he could get the best corned beef sandwich in town, you responded with lots of recommendations.

“Olive Tree in South Charleston has a great Reuben and a great pastrami sandwich,” Denise Giardina reported — which I agree with wholeheartedly — and Gene Coulson loves the corned beef sandwich at The Lucky Dill deli downtown, “plus you can throw an axe while you are there!”

I’ve done both, Gene — so much fun.

“Hey Food Guy, I saw a reader was looking for a corned beef sandwich,” Sam Lucas said. “Dairy Winkle on Campbell’s Creek recently added a classic Reuben sandwich that is on point!”

Gloria Boggess recommends a quick trip to Deli-Fresh on Greenbrier Street.

“Any sandwich is fresh here — corned beef, etc. — with great folks and great service.”

Other “best reuben” votes came in for Soho’s at Capitol Market and, a little further away, the Glen Ferris Inn on Route 60 in Fayette County.

Some restaurants themselves got in on the action, with new Bridge Road Bistro owner Sandy Call teasing their new Reuben with tender house-made corned beef.

“I challenge you to find a better one in the state!”

And regional Penn Station East Coast Subs owner Roger Kirkland shared his “admittedly biased opinion” for their fresh grilled Reuben.

How they slow-roast and hand-carve their proprietary corned beef, then place it next to sauerkraut right on the grille. How they slather thousand island dressing onto a fresh-baked French baguette, then pile the toppings on it. How the whole shebang then goes into the oven to bake all the flavors together into one “hot gooey taste treat.”

Is your mouth watering also, or is it just me?

And finally, Bridget Tierney added her two cents for The East End Pub’s Reuben, which she said is “made fresh-to-order with always-fresh homemade sauces and very hard to beat.”

If The East End Pub’s name sounds unfamiliar, it’s the new restaurant that has taken over where Capitol Grille Eathouse recently closed on Washington Street East past the Capitol. And it’s a new venture by some of the same folks who used to run B&D Gastropub in Kanawha City.

See, even more juicy restaurant news!

Steven Keith writes a weekly food column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or by e-mail at wvfoodguy@aol.com. You can also follow him on Facebook as “WV Food Guy” and on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest

as “WVFoodGuy”.

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Funerals Today, Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Armstead, David - Noon, Chapman Funeral Home, Winfield.

Crawford, Charles - 7:30 p.m., Andrews' residence, Belleaire at Devonshire, Scott Depot.

Duff, Catherine Ann - 11 a.m., Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

Jarrett, Shirley - 1 p.m., Mt. Juliet United Methodist Church, Belle.

Lawrentz, Deo Mansfried - 11 a.m., Koontz Cemetery, Clendenin.

McGraw, Judy Fay - 2 p.m., Jodie Missionary Baptist Church, Jodie.

Mullins, Alice Ellen (Blessing) - Noon, Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Staats, Anthony Vernon “Tony” - 1 p.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.