Food & Drink : All you can eat

News and notes from the San Antonio food scene

This week, SA has two new restaurants to counterbalance the sad news that Massimo’s Ristorante e Bar has closed (not to mention that the restaurateur recently opened Sage Ristorante e Bar, 401 S. Alamo. See story page 36).

Chris Erck has announced the opening of Flip Burgers in his old Cementville space, 1730 Jones Maltsberger, next to the Quarry Market.

Under the guidance of Peggy Chavera, former manager at the also-former Buck’s Landing, Flip’s menu is almost entirely without pretension — a sandwich of seared, sushi-grade tuna embellished with pickled ginger and wasabi mayo is the only haute offering. Otherwise, it’s burgers all the way, including the “BEST beanburger in SA,” plus nachos, chalupas, and fries. Shakes come in the holy trinity of flavors: chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla (OK, it’s Mexican vanilla). Beer, wine, and margaritas complete the liquid-refreshment list. We haven’t checked out the décor, but the menu’s retro graphics suggest Pop Art, in a ’70s orange-and-brown kinda way.

And then, on the Northside, there’s the new Luciano’s. Jesse Perez, who’s been cookin’ up a spicy storm at Westin La Cantera’s Francesca’s at Sunset, came up in the shadow of Southwestern guru Mark Miller — and he’s been so successful, Miller recently offered him control of the Coyote Café’s Santa Fe kitchen.

Looking for more front-of-the-house experience, Perez has opted instead to throw his molé-stained towel in with La Cantera’s food and beverage director Joe Buonincontri and the Centofanti family (of Luciano’s) to open a new restaurant at the former Gladys on the Strand, 11255 Huebner.

With a tentative opening date of mid-June, this “top-tier” Luciano’s will be Italian in essence — the Italian of truffled polenta and veal chops, not red sauce and spaghetti — with flavors of Spain and Texas, and certainly a chile or two. Look for sparks, however, not sugo.

- Ron Bechtol