International Cafe: According to owner Mohamed Gumati, his (excellent and long-missed) hummus-and-gyro shop will be reopening between Lakota and Main Squeeze sometime the week of June 7.
The Pasta Factory: Columbia’s familiar outpost for middlebrow Italian food has reopened on West Broadway. The location – essentially tucked into a Wal-Mart parking lot – doesn’t inspire, but the handsome bar and familiar decor are tasteful and well-done, rarities on that side of town. The food, for better or worse, will be familiar as well. Ravioli lurk somewhere beneath an ocean of sauce; chicken parmigiana is badly overcooked. On the flip side, the mostaccioli con salsiccia is as good as ever – though served a few thousand degrees hotter than necessary – and the Factory Salad is light and zesty (and reminds us of the Deb’s Garlic at Murry’s and Pogolino’s in Festus). The beer selection (New Belgium Somersault, Schlafly APA, a wittbier) is a winner as well.
Bleu Restaurant & Wine Bar: I stopped in for lunch the other day when they were running a “Comfort Food for Joplin” fundraiser. Chicken and dumplings, mac ‘n cheese and (especially) duck confit shepherd’s pie were all outstanding. One place that probably deserves a more elevated position on your radar screen than it gets.
Red and Moe’s: There’s enough about Red and Moe to keep an army of haters busy. The crust is too crackery, the menu too weird and the prices too high. It’s a love it/hate it kind of place, but I’m in the former camp. Their spring menu is focused, largely locally-sourced and excellent; I especially like the blistered radish salad and garlic chive and arugula pizza. I hear the trout salad is excellent as well. Fresh pasta hanging in the kitchen is always a good sign. Try them for lunch when you can get a half pizza, half salad for $11.