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Italian restaurant in the works on West Chippewa

The owner of Soho Burger Bar is turning a place across the street into an Italian restaurant.

Jay Manno said that the former City Tavern will become Frankie Primo’s + 39 before the end of November, if all goes well.

He expects to open with a menu of brick-oven pizzas, pastas, sandwiches and salads, joined by a few entrees. It will have about 50 table seats, 20 at the bar and 30 on the patio when appropriate.

With a kitchen expansion and cosmetic work inside, he’s hoping work can be done by mid-November. “It’s ambitious, to say the least,” he said.

The name is a play on his children’s first names plus the country code to phone Italy, he explained.

He’s gotten some feedback that the name is too long. “But nobody says ‘I’m going to Soho Burger Bar.’ They say ‘I’m going to Soho.’ Or ‘I’m going to Trattoria Aroma.’ They say ‘I’m going to Aroma.’ We’ll see what sticks,” Manno said.

The space, at 51 W. Chippewa St., is a meatball’s throw from Soho, at 64 W. Chippewa.

Cheektowaga rebirth: Elite Fine Dining, which replaces Friar’s Table at 301 Cleveland Drive, started serving about two weeks ago. Prime rib is no longer the house specialty, but there are plenty of steaks and fresh seafood on the menu. Phone: 831-8181.

Tonawanda dumplings: Chinese Dumpling House opened Monday at 1000 Ellicott Creek Road, Tonawanda.

Dumplings, buns and spring rolls are on the brief menu.

Owner Mei Lu is from Shanghai, and has other ladies working with her who hail from other cities in China, said Tom Herr, Mei’s husband. The opening menu is simple, but there are more varieties planned, he said.

There are three tables, with 12 seats, and Coke products, if you feel like eating there.

See the menu at (no “m”). Phone: 692-1972.

Vegetarian cafe serving: Grindhaus Cafe, 160 Allen St., has started serving its menu of all-vegetarian sandwiches and salads. As you might expect, there are many vegan choices as well, including a tempeh-and-tomato sandwich, and avocado-based chocolate mousse. Phone: 725-6300.

Ellicottville Italian: Ellicottville got a casual Italian restaurant from seasoned operators when Villaggio opened last week.

The 150-seat restaurant from Nick Pitillo and Jeff Cooke Jr. is located at 7 Monroe St., Ellicottville. Formerly the Barn, Villaggio is twice the size of Osteria 166, their original restaurant at 166 Franklin St. in downtown Buffalo.

The menu will start smaller than Osteria’s, Cooke said. Expect it to open with risotto sticks, antipasto board, tomahawk steak, chicken lasagna, bucatini carbonara, filet mignon sandwich with stuffed banana pepper, and more. Phone: 699-2199.

Carmine’s in Allentown?: Destroyed by fire on Transit Road, Carmine’s of Clarence might reopen in Allentown.

Carmine’s owner Michael Jacobbi is working on opening an Italian restaurant at 59 Allen St., where Presto closed last week, he said.

Jacobbi said he hasn’t determined what will happen at his original location, 4715 Transit Road, Clarence. The 45-year-old restaurant, opened by his father Vito, was destroyed by fire in July, the day the restaurant won the best seafood item award at Taste of Buffalo.

While the future of that site is not clear yet, he’s in the process of getting a liquor license for the 59 Allen St. space. His Buffalo plans hinge on whether he can obtain one. “I wouldn’t go ahead there without some kind of a bar,” he said.

“While it’s in the hands of the insurance people, I don’t want to be idle. I like where this place is, and want to see if it can work.”

Bambino closed: Bambino Bar & Kitchen, the Italian restaurant at 297 Franklin St., has closed its doors.

The restaurant’s Facebook page expressed gratitude to customers for over five years of business at the Theater District location.

“Make sure you keep an eye on the Facebook page for possibly a new location or try our sister restaurant on Hertel Ave., BOSS, Buffalo’s Original Steak and Seafood!” the page said. Bambino owner Michael Vaccaro opened BOSS, at Hertel and Starin avenues, in February 2014.

Bambino opened in May 2011 in a building owned by developer Mark Croce that was once a rooming house. Croce rehabbed the building and opened it in 2001 as the Brownstone Bistro, which in 2003 became the Brownstone Seafood House & Oyster Bar. That closed in 2007 and was replaced by Duo, which closed in 2009. The restaurant was vacant until 2011, when Vaccaro and his then-partner, chef Noel Morreale, opened it as Bambino. - Mary Kunz Goldman

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