A month ago, I wrote about the two-restaurants-under-one-roof phenomenon, noting that a couple of these culinary twin bills (Mangia Bistro/Eat in Raleigh, and Girasole Trattoria/Gatehouse Tavern in Wake Forest) had coincidentally opened within weeks of each other.
Maybe it wasn't coincidence after all but the beginning of a trend.
The ink was barely dry on that column when rookie restaurateur Sean Shea announced that he had teamed up with veteran chef Gianni Cinelli to open yet another pair of restaurants with a common address.
That address, in Durham's historic West Village, was formerly the home of Tosca, an Italian restaurant that closed recently after nearly a decade.
Now it's home to two restaurants, and the address serves as the name for one of them. 604 West Morgan (680-6333; www.604westmorgan.com) offers an eclectic menu served in a white tablecloth setting (or, if the weather is fair, in the restaurant's landscaped courtyard). Johnson & Wales-trained chef Rob Sumber previously worked in upscale Italian restaurants in New York, but his current offering freely crosses borders ranging from French onion soup to cioppino to pecan grilled chicken with cornbread croutons to key lime pie.
Those seeking a more casual experience will find it in the erstwhile Tosca private dining room, where Cinelli's (416-4554; www.durhamcinellis.com) is now serving traditional Italian fare in a family-friendly setting.
The menu will be familiar to those who have eaten at Cinelli's restaurants elsewhere in the Triangle, including the Durham location that was closed in order to move to West Village. Though the new location is smaller than the old one, Gianni Cinelli still offers his full menu of pizzas (including the signature thin-crusted Grandma pizza), pastas and Italian subs.
Spreading the joy
With the recent openings of second area locations of these restaurants, good cheap eats have never been more convenient:
Buffalo Brothers (new location at 4025-101 Lake Boone Trail, Raleigh; 782-4949; www.buffbrothers.com)
The Food Factory (new location at 5430 Wade Park Blvd., Raleigh; 859-2688; www.thefoodfactory.com)
Mami Nora's (new location at 2401 Wake Forest Road, Raleigh; 834-8572 www.maminoras.com)
Piola (new location at 1101 Environ Way, Chapel Hill; 537-8488; www.piola.it)