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Family Affair

Steaking a claim on Jim Sullivan's next project: Oscar's.

What's more, that fight theme is being taken to admirable extremes, with twelve flatscreens showing the hundred greatest fights of all times and personal flatscreens available to customers at their tables so they can watch whatever they like. "I love boxing," Sullivan told me. "I've been watching it since I was a kid. I thought about boxing professionally once."

You and me both, Jim. When I was a kid, I would watch all the great fights with my dad. My dad had thought about going pro himself for a while, and he even had dreams of me being the great Irish hope, until it became abundantly clear that I wasn't going to get any taller and was going to use my big neck and good chin and hard knuckles in places other than the ring.

"Look," Sullivan concluded. "This is a brand that I've been thinking about for a very long time. It's a very Rat Pack-feeling room, and it'll still have a kind of gentleman's-club feel."

"But no strippers," Leigh asserted when I wound up back on the phone with her. "None. Not even girls in stripper shoes."

I told Leigh that her father had told me that Guard would indeed be the executive chef at the new restaurant. She seemed unsurprised. "Well, it's a good thing he wrote a menu for the place, then, isn't it?" she said. "Just in case."

Cherry Creek shuffle: Word is out that the Hillstone Restaurant Group (which owns the Cherry Creek Grill, the Houston'sbrand, Gulfstream, Bandera and others) has purchased the Cherry Creek Dental Arts Building and plans to raze the place, replacing it with something that will include a brand-new restaurant. And that means that Greg Goldfogel will have to find a new home for Ristorante Amore, which has been in its current space at 2355 East Third Avenue since November 2003. But in the meantime, Goldfogel is adamant about one thing: "Let people know we're still in business. We're open, we're running, we're getting ready to launch the fall menu."

Although he says he's "actively looking for a new space," Goldfogel has a lease on the Third Avenue spot through June -- which means nine more months of business, three more seasonal changes.

"I've been looking around, obviously," he adds. "It's funny -- I looked at a space up in Highland, and immediately word got out that I'd taken it. Really, I'd looked at it for fifteen minutes."

Goldfogel has also made some staff changes recently. Anthony Sartorio was brought up from the ranks to wear the big hat, taking the place of former chef John Smilanic-Beneventi, who bailed for the coast. Sartorio brought Rufus Burdett up with him, and the two chefs are now working through the fall menu change and themselves wondering what will happen next summer.

"The way I look at it, I've either got to go bigger and take the food up a notch or get out of the business," Goldfogel explains. "I mean, twenty tables or fifty tables? How am I going to make the most money?"

Sound familiar? Everyone's got numbers on their minds this month. It's go-big-or-go-home time.

Leftovers:With all of the steakhouses in town, it must be hard to find a name for a new one. We already have too many Chop Houses and Steakhouses and Steak & Chop Houses, so when the folks taking on the former Bob's Steak and Chop House started searching for a new moniker, they wisely discarded the Clayton Lane Chop Houseoption and instead took a page from the Sullivan Group's naming protocol. So when the new restaurant opens at the end of the month, it will be known as Prime 121. Why? Because it's located at 121 Clayton Street and will (presumably) be serving USDA prime meat.

I don't write about upcoming charity events often -- if I did, I wouldn't have space to write about anything else -- but every now and then, a truly worthy cause comes along. Like this one: On Thursday, October 5, Frankand Jacqueline Bonanno will host a benefit dinner at Luca d'Italia (711 Grant Street) for the Children's Hospital neurology department.

The Bonannos spent most of May at Children's with their son Luca (for whom the restaurant was named). The kid was in for brain surgery to correct a cortical dysplasia that was causing him to have multiple epileptic seizures. For the most part, the Bonannos had stayed quiet about this, and Frank kept his restaurants up and running through the troubles. Now that it looks like Luca is doing better, though, the family has decided to give a little something back the only way they know how -- through food.

Frank is bringing in his buddy Tony Montuano, from Spiaggiain Chicago, and the two will put together a six-course Italian feast that is sure to be one of the best meals you'll have all year. Maybe ever. Seats at the event are $250 or $500 a chair. Luca only holds about fifty people, so if you're interested (and you should be -- if not for the cause, then for the lobster, the Crescenza-stuffed pasta, the roast guinea hen with black truffle sauce and whatever else Frank and Tony come up with for the night, not to mention the post-dinner auction where you can bid on "intimate dinners from top local chefs"), call now and reserve a place. I have no doubt that it will be worth every penny.

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