We're taking a look this week at the whirlwind of changes this summer in the Ithaca restaurant scene. Ithaca always has restaurants come and go, but it's been a stormy few weeks!
We gave you a quick heads-up last month that Lucatelli's Ristorante was closing after nearly thirty years, and we can now share the news of what's next in that spot -- Bella Vita, "Modern Italian Cuisine," coming soon in that Old Elmira Road location.
Kyushu was Ithaca's first hibachi steakhouse.Kyushu Hibachi and Sushi Bar in Ithaca's northeast, one of the original tenants of the shopping plaza that features a Tops supermarket and Applebee's, closed last month as well.
When it opened, Kyushu was one of just two or three Japanese eateries in Ithaca, meaning if you wanted Japanese food, you probably had to drive somewhere, and it might as well be there. Today, there are three or four Japanese eateries downtown alone, with five or six more around town, and unless it happens to be convenient, you probably won't pick the one that's not the shiniest new option or right by your neighborhood.
Another casualty of the plethora of Asian eateries in town is Thai Cuisine. This pioneer in the Ithaca Thai food arena had a terrific Sunday dim sum brunch and some of the best Thai food around, but it must have become harder and harder to compete with four or five other Thai eateries within a mile or two, especially after Taste of Thai Express moved in just a block away with "good enough" and much less expensive (if less varied) fare.
Also in the southwest, they're not open yet, but we're looking forward to Fat Jack's BBQ in the former Elmira Road home of Garcia's Mexican Restaurant and the long-lamented Ralph's Ribs.
Two of the area's three Friendly's restaurants have now closed. The one inside the Shops at Ithaca Mall, next to the food court, closed a while back, and the one in Ithaca's southwest closed at the end of July when this area's franchiser sold its locations to the Friendly's corporation. Fans of Friendly's breakfasts or ice cream can still visit their Cayuga Mall location in Ithaca's northeast.
We're going to miss the taquitos at Mexeo.And our favorite locavore Tex-Mex spot, Mexeo, in Collegetown, closed last week "until further notice." Sebastian's coffee outlet Cafeo, right up the street, is still open and selling awesome Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches at lunchtime, and we're still hoping that Mexeo, which started several years ago as Xeo's Cafe, still has another incarnation yet to be revealed.
But right around the corner, The Gates, a new bar and music venue that opened last fall in the former downstairs home of The Chariot, has just started serving a pub menu of wings, fries, burgers, and sandwiches, including vegan and gluten-free fare, evenings until 10pm.
Have we missed any other comings or goings? Let us know in the comments here, or find 14850 Dining on Facebook or Twitter.