• Steven Keith

First Watch reopens, but Abruzzi & Graziano’s remain closed

In local restaurant news, there have been a handful of unexpected closures lately that have many readers talking – and some worried – about the future of said places. For the most part, however, the shutdowns all seem temporary so far.

Herbed salmon with Brussels and mash from Ristorante Abruzzi
Herbed salmon with Brussels and mash from Ristorante Abruzzi

Graziano’s on Capitol Street was closed for nearly a month, briefly reopened at the end of March, then closed again a few days last week. But according to posts on the restaurant’s official Facebook page, they’re just taking care of some family issues and expect to fully reopen soon.


First Watch on Summers Street followed suit last week with a sudden message to customers saying they would be closed until further notice, but stressed the situation was a short-term one. Indeed it was, as the restaurant reopened two days later.


And finally, Ristorante Abruzzi at WV Power Park has been closed since the end of March when the chef left to pursue another opportunity. The Italian restaurant hasn’t reopened since, but its Facebook page says they are working on announcing some exciting changes soon.


Fingers crossed all three spots will make it through these bumps in the road.


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America’s Best Restaurants recently paid a visit to Charleston’s Hale House downtown and The Lookout Bar & Grill up at Eagle View, which are set to become the first West Virginia restaurants promoted on this national online roadshow.


To see what they had to say about these two local hangouts, and get details on watching both full episodes, check out the “America’s Best Restaurants” Facebook page.


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If you’re looking for a unique setting to enjoy nice food, wine and beer in pretty surroundings, don’t miss Capitol Market’s “Flowers After Hours” spring mixer from 5-8 p.m. this Saturday night.


The outdoor market will be in full bloom to help guests celebrate the arrival of spring with an evening of live music and merriment. The Wine Shop’s Ted Armbrecht will present a selection of wines and craft beers paired with heavy hors d’oeuvres from Soho’s and treats from other market vendors.


South Hills restaurant Lola’s is also pitching in for this fundraiser to benefit the non-profit Capitol Market by serving its famous sangria and food options at the event as well.


Live music will be provided by the Redline Band, offering a blend of smooth R&B and neo-soul with a punch of funk thrown in for good measure.


To purchase tickets or sponsor the event, visit bit.ly/3u6COnE. Tickets will also be available at the door.


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The two readers who asked for your help tracking down some of their favorite foods received just that thanks to many of you who responded in kind.


The local critical care nurse looking for the best Appalachian comfort food may want to head to Diehl’s Restaurant in Nitro, which received the most local love based on your votes. (Sissonville’s Topspot and Dwight’s in St. Albans were up there as well.) And the gentleman looking for the area’s best tamales should consider a trip to Tequila Grill along Rt. 60 between Huntington and Barboursville.


“I too am always in search of a good tamale and the best I’ve ever had were in Oklahoma City and Sedona, AZ,” wrote Kip Howell. “But the test I’ve had in the Charleston/Huntington area has been at Tequila Grill.”


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Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at wvfoodguy@aol.com.

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