James Beard nominations, new Kitty's, Wasabi, Boathouse, Jacob's Kitchen, Wild Olive 

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James Beard Nominations

The semifinalists were announced last Friday for the James Beard Awards, and Charleston has a respectable showing. Trattoria Lucca is in the running for Best New Restaurant, and Aaron Deal of Tristan and Sean Brock of McCrady's are both nominated in the nationwide category of Rising Star Chef. Charleston Grill showed up in the Outstanding Service category, and a handful of logical names — Mika Lata, Ken Vedrinksi, Bob Waggoner, and Sean Brock — made it to the Best Chef: Southeast semifinals. None of these guys are new to the dance, but we wonder how Waggoner's departure from Charleston Grill will effect his nomination. Five finalists for each category will be announced in March, and winners will be awarded their prizes in May at a gala event in NYC. —Stephanie Barna

From Kitty to Castro?

Kitty's Fine Foods has only been gone a few weeks, but its space is already being taken over. The old restaurant on 1137 Morrison Drive, up near the neck of the peninsula, will be reopening under new ownership sometime soon (predicted date: mid-March). According to our source involved in the new operation, specifics are still in flux, but the menu might reflect a Cuban theme. And for fans of Kitty's working class vibe, there's no need to be sad. It won't be changing too much. We'll keep you updated, and you can bet we'll be first in line when they open, since it's mere blocks away from the City Paper offices. —Hadley Lyman

Japanese Expansion

Another interesting trend to go along with the glut of Italian eateries: successful local restaurants expanding into regional chains. Both Tsunami and Wasabi have been busy moving into the 'burbs. Wasabi recently opened a new location in Summerville, which is much like the one downtown: sizzling hibachi cooked before your eyes, fresh sushi, and plenty of sake and Sapporo to go around. The only difference is it will be more of a family-style atmosphere — instead of the dance floor, they have more hibachi grills. Wasabi isn't the only Japanese restaurant growing. Tsunami's been working on the old Mama Fu's location in West Ashley for a while now. They've also announced a second Columbia location. Let the Japanese takeover begin. —Candice Summers

Open for Business

The Boathouse on Ellis Creek opened its doors, very close to schedule, last Friday. They were putting finishing touches on the place right up until the minute they started serving dinner. No doubt, they wanted to launch on V-day/SEWE weekend, since all the locals would be avoiding the madness downtown. They've completely transformed the exterior and have added a much-needed amenity — valet parking. As anyone who drove past the old Mimi's on a Sunday afternoon can attest, the parking along Harbor View can be treacherous. —Stephanie Barna

Jacob's Kitchen is open too

Another new restaurant opened on Tuesday — Jacob's Kitchen in the I'On village. The restaurant is attached to the brand new Inn at I'On, a beautiful little hotel that reflects the modern South vibe of the beloved Mt. Pleasant neighborhood. We attended the media preview dinner last week and got a taste of Jonathan Languell's menu, which featured duck egg rolls, corn chowder soup, lamb chops, and pecan bread pudding. It was all good, but we have a feeling that this is going to be a go-to place for breakfast. The morning menu is packed with pancakes, eggs, and more. —Stephanie Barna

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Don't Forget Wild Olive

Fred Neuville's Italian project on Johns Island, Wild Olive, has opened after a complete renovation of the old Live Oak Café space on Maybank Highway. Some of the dishes that immediately drew our attention on the new menu were the roasted pheasant with white wine, garlic, and cream atop fettucine ($18.95); roasted rack of lamb with gorgonzola mashed potatoes and escarole ($25.95); and the chestnut-encrusted grouper ($19.95). The menu's also stocked with classics like lasagna ($13.95), spaghetti and meatballs ($13.95), and various risotto dishes. Todd Mazurek has moved from Fat Hen to open the kitchen at Wild Olive as the executive chef. The restaurant is open daily for dinner. —Stephanie Barna


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