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The Food Guy: Restaurant roundup -- openings, closings and updates

In this week’s edition of Breaking Food News, one longtime restaurant closes, an anticipated new one opens, one of my favorites is expanding and we clarify that whole “Bistro at The Barge is now one restaurant” confusion — part of which I inadvertently caused.

Plus we talk jambalaya, pepperoni rolls and more. That’s a lot to get through, so let’s dig in.

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The biggest scoop, in my opinion, is this little nugget sent in by reader Dave Gurley: My beloved Bellissimo Pizza in Belle is opening a second location in St. Albans.

“You already know the food, you have been to the first location and you wrote of the experience in several columns,” he wrote, “so I hope I am the first to announce a coming attraction to you.”

He was.

“The three Elassal brothers have donated one brother to my end of the valley,” he explained. “Mohamed and Andrea will continue to serve great Mediterranean food to their guests in DuPont City, but brother Albul has taken over and completely revamped the old Red Line Diner on old Rt. 35 (now Rt. 817) near the St. Albans exit of I-64.”

Gurley told me he took a tour of the new location last week.

“I can attest to the very hard work he has done to change the diner from a basic burger joint with tiny tables and bar stools to a much more pleasing dining area. There’s a new pizza oven, the ability to make milkshakes and the list is long of all he has added to begin serving his style of food that so many of us enjoy.”

I can’t wait to see the new place open, and you can bet I’ll be one of the first in line. Stay tuned for more details.

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I hate to see any local restaurant close, but it was of little surprise when the East End’s Little India shut its doors last weekend. (Although a sign on the door says the place is closed for maintenance, the restaurant confirmed with me Saturday that the closing is permanent.)

Once a delicious hot spot for Indian cuisine, the place was never the same after a change of ownership, followed by a noticeable drop in quality, a few years back.

Fortunately, we have two other solid Indian options in town.

My fave is definitely Nawab Fine Indian Cuisine in Kanawha City, where B&D Gastropub and Murad’s used to be, plus there’s also a mainstay downtown that I know many of you love. Sitar of India is still going strong, having recently celebrated its 25th year in business.

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As one restaurant fades away, another emerges.

The Lookout Bar & Grill up at Eagle View opened over the weekend, replacing the former restaurants Tin Box BBQ and Adventures Bar & Grill that came before it.

On the menu are several selections you might expect at a bar and grill: burgers, pizzas, wings, nachos and a few fried goodies. There’s also a dish or two paying homage to the owners’ Ichiban and Bar 101 offerings: a couple of shrimp apps, a tuna poke bowl, maple-glazed salmon.

But then there a few “elevated” items that might surprise you: lamb lollipops with mint salsa verde, a kale and tuna salad, rosemary chicken, center-cut sirloin and a trio of pastas — Cajun chicken, fettuccine Alfredo, chicken Parmesan.

I’m already looking forward to a drink, lunch or dinner on that gorgeous, sweeping deck. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a full Food Guy review.

IF YOU GO: The Lookout Bar & Grill at Eagle View, located at 530 Silver Maple Ridge in Charleston, is open from 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 681-265-5011 or visit “The Lookout Bar & Grill” on Facebook.

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The news that Bistro at The Barge had combined its restaurants was welcome news to those who wanted to enjoy some of the boat’s upstairs fine-dining options on the waterfront dock below.

However, I inadvertently caused some grief by saying guests could now enjoy upscale creations and the usual burgers and fries on said patio. Reason being, the restaurant also revamped the downstairs menu as part of the change and there’s nary a burger to be had now.

But based on a review of both new menus this weekend, you won’t miss those burgers a bit.

To clarify, the enclosed upstairs dining room is still open Tuesday through Saturday evenings offering some of the area’s finest dining. (Even better, several exciting new items now grace that menu.)

The downstairs indoor/outdoor bar and waterfront deck now offer a new bar menu from noon to close those same days featuring a selection of mostly fried appetizers, pulled-pork barbecue, wraps featuring the same crispy Brussels sprout-topped salads from the dining room (to which you can add shrimp or chicken) and a trip of “rippers,” which are deep-fried hot dogs topped in various combinations.

“It’s a Jersey thing,” chuckled chef Marshall Hilton.

But each evening the deck splits into two dining sides — one still offering the more casual bar menu and the other serving fine-dining options from upstairs.

Make sense now?

You can still order off the casual bar menu downstairs for lunch or dinner, but you can also enjoy the Bistro’s upscale options either upstairs or on half of the deck downstairs starting at 5 p.m. each day.

Having said that, Hilton said if you have a group dining on the “fine” side and someone wants something off the other menu, they can certainly accommodate that.

Why the change? Simply put: survival.

“Although people have really embraced the Barge, we’ve had so many variables to deal with in terms of weather, flooding, seasonality, and having two separate kitchens and staffs,” he explained. “Restaurants that were here before didn’t adapt to those challenges and ended up not making it. We’re evolving so we can make it.”

Is it working?

“It’s going so well,” he said, “even better than we even expected.”

Hilton said it’s been much easier to manage one kitchen and staff, and the change also has succeeded in giving more exposure to the restaurant’s fine-dining, which he says is what they do best.

“There are still so many people in Charleston who don’t know about the food we’re putting out upstairs. This new format gave us the opportunity to change that and it’s really working. We’ve been busy upstairs and downstairs and see more and more repeat customers coming back for the upscale menu.”

I can see why. Both menus look amazing and I’ll be eating my way through them in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for the bite-by-bite details!

IF YOU GO: The Barge, located at 1414 MacCorkle Ave. SW in Charleston, is open from noon to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call 304-744-2628 or visit www.bargerestaurant.com.

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Finally, it’s been a busy few months on the food event front, not that I’m complaining.

This week I served as a celebrity chef at Sunday evening’s “Jazz & Jambalaya” cooking demo, dinner and concert to benefit African-American Philanthropy in Action, a Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation “giving circle” that funds community projects primarily on Charleston’s West Side.

And tomorrow, I’ll be down at Haddad Riverfront Park eating my weight in pepperoni rolls while judging this year’s “Rolls on the River” festival.

Featuring a host of vendors serving up West Virginia’s official state food — along with craft beer, live music, local artisans and children’s activities — the event runs from 5 to 8 p.m. and benefits Charleston Montessori School.

Tickets for the event are $35 for adults, which includes 10 pepperoni roll tickets and five 8-ounce beer tickets; $15 for non-drinkers, which subs the beers for two waters; and $5 for children 2-12, which includes five pepperoni roll tickets and one water. Children under 2 are free.

Tickets may be purchased at www.rollsontheriver.com. For more information about the event, call 304-348-6860 or visit “Rolls on the River 2019” on Facebook.

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”.

Funerals for Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Adkins, Denvil - 11 a.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.

Armstrong, Lola - 3 p.m., Old Pine Grove Cemetery, Sumerco.

Cottrell, H. Harvey - 2 p.m., Allen Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Hager, Doran - 1 p.m., Highland Memory Gardens, Godby.

Hedrick, Phyllis - Noon, Taylor-Vandale Funeral Home, Spencer.

Lane, Mary - 11 a.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Ludwig, Michael - 1 p.m., Epworth United Methodist Church, Ripley.

Morton, Laura - 1 p.m., Ida Baptist Church, Bentree.

Sodder, Elsie - Noon, St. Anthony’s Shrine Catholic Church, Boomer.

Stump, Ruth - 1 p.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation Inc., Grantsville.