Restaurateur Henry Gorino has put the kitchen of his newest restaurant in familiar hands.
Lennon Lewandowski will be the executive chef of JT's, the restaurant Gorino and partners plan to open next month in the mixed-use building at 905 Elmwood Ave.
Lewandowski was executive chef at Oliver's for years when Gorino and partners owned the Buffalo fine-dining restaurant. Lewandowski's tenure there ended in 2016, after the restaurant was sold.
At JT's, Lewandowski will be working with chef de cuisine Chris Smaldone, who has been the second-in-command at 800 Maple, Gorino said.
[READ: Andrew Galarneau's 2016 review of 800 Maple]
The restaurant could open in the third or fourth week of April, Gorino said. First, it must hire and train about 70 people. JT's will be open seven days a week for dinner, lunch and Sunday brunch, he said. "We're going to be busy."
Its dishes will include wood-fired pizza, but the restaurant will aim higher than Rocco's, the partners' pizza-centric place on Transit Road. It'll be "a little more cutting-edge," he said.
[READ: Wood-fired chicken wings stood out in 2015 review of Rocco's]
JT's is named after John Tronolone, a Gorino partner, Oliver's maître d' and history teacher who died in 2013.
The two-story restaurant, part of a four-story building that includes retail space and apartments, has room to hold up to 200, said Gorino. That includes more than 20 at the bar, the main dining room, a first-floor patio, and second-story space that can include balcony tables.
[RELATED: More about Tronolone's life in his obituary]
New Lucy Ethiopian open: Lucy Ethiopian, the city's first Ethiopian restaurant, has reopened in its new home in Riverside.
The address is 916 Tonawanda St., but the restaurant's unmarked entrance is around the corner on Crowley Avenue, facing Riverside Park. Inside, the larger dining room will hold twice as many customers as the former spot at Grant and Amherst streets.
It's a soft opening for now, with some construction remaining to create a traditional Ethiopian dining experience, said owner Abba Biya. A grand opening will be set for April.
[Don't get Ethiopian? Here's a primer for beginners to the cuisine, which melds Arabian and African cuisines]
In the meantime, Ethiopian vegan, vegetarian and meat dishes are on offer, as well as house-roasted Ethiopian coffee. For now, the hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon-8 p.m. Sunday. Closed Mondays. Phone: 597-2305.
Local Restaurant Week: If you're considering broadening your personal restaurant menu, consider Local Restaurant Week's spring season. Next week, more than 200 independently owned restaurants will try to make new fans with deals on meals for one or two diners.
The spring edition of the biannual promotion runs from March 20-26. Participating restaurants, ranging from pizzerias to white-tablecloth fine dining establishments, offer introductory specials priced at $20.17, $30.17 and $40.17.
Check out the list of restaurants and read about their offerings at localrestaurantweek.com.
New participants in Buffalo include Buffalo Riverworks, The Burning Buffalo, KO Bar & Grill and Hydraulic Hearth.
In Amherst: 12 Gates Brewing, Shenannigans Bar & Grill, Fuze Asian Grill, and Fuji Grill on Transit Road.
In Williamsville: MTK Prime, and Sun Cuisines.
Plus Chick-N-Pizza Works, Cheektowaga; Clay Handi (formerly Zaiqa), Kenmore; New York Beer Project, Lockport; Wine on Third, Niagara Falls; Eckl's, Orchard Park; and Don Juan Mexican Bar & Grill locations in West Seneca and Elma.
Send restaurant tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @BuffaloFood on Instagram and Twitter.