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Bite Me

Kevin Taylor says au revoir to Nicois.

At an even newer kid on the block, Vega (410 East Seventh Avenue), chef Sean Yontz (who left Zenith and Kevin Taylor to become chef at Tamayo before striking out on his own last fall) has an impressive-sounding five-course chef's menu ($48, $75 with wine) currently featuring such New American treats as Spanish mackerel tartare and veal sweetbreads "pozole." Vega also does a vegetarian tasting menu that heats things up with a Yukon Gold and cascabel chile gnocci followed by four more meat-free courses, all for the bargain price of $38 ($65 if you want wine to wash it down).

In addition to seatings at its chef's table, Adega (1700 Wynkoop Street) has introduced a tasting menu featuring white Alba, Oregon and Umbrian Black, and French Périgord truffles -- with a different four-star fungus in each course. Head chef Bryan Moscatello's lineup includes a golden potato soup with Oregon black truffle foam, as well as a butter-braised stew of rabbit and asparagus with the pricey and rare French Périgord. The price is steep at $170 per person (including wine), but truffles can run up to $1,400 a pound.

At Barolo Grill (3030 East Sixth Avenue), the chef's special changes weekly. For example, fifty bucks might get you cured salmon carpaccio followed by a dried-apricot salad, a pasta course of butternut ravioli in a sage-brown-butter sauce, then pheasant cassoulet and dessert; for $80, owner Blair Taylor will pair each course with a wine from Barolo's cellar. And the Il Fornaio group (1631 Wazee Street and 8000 East Belleview Avenue in Greenwood Village) is now in its eighth year of Festa Regionale, during which the chain highlights a different region of Italy. Through January 19, it's Trentino-Alto Adige, in the far north, reflected in such regional dishes as salsiccia e polenta -- Italian sausage with grilled polenta, mushrooms, parmesan and Fontina cheeses -- and ossobuco di maiale, a braised pork shank served with mashed potatoes and dandelion greens.


Leftovers: Just in time for the new year, Marczyk's Fine Foods (770 East 17th Avenue) has expanded, with a separate wine room featuring reds, whites and in-betweens handpicked and arranged by course -- as in beef, fish, dessert, etc. The 5th Avenue Chocolatier is now open at 220 Steele Street, and the Royal Hilltop, a non-smoking British pub, recently opened at 18581 East Hampden Avenue in Aurora. With tables and stools imported from England, a full bar and a menu featuring all those meat-and-potatoes Brit-food faves like fish and chips, bangers and mash, steak and ale, the Hilltop is the perfect place to hide from your cardiologist or personal trainer. They'll probably be over at Las Delicias, anyway: The homegrown chain (the original outpost is still serving up great green chile at 439 East 19th Avenue) went completely smoke-free on January 1.

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