Epicurean

New restaurant owners have cooking cred

CORRESPONDENTNovember 17, 2010 

It's time to fire up the GPS for a tour of new restaurants on the outskirts of the Triangle.

The first destination is Hillsborough, where the rib eyes, filets and New York strips began sizzling on the grill at Russell's Steakhouse (378 S. Churton St.; 241-4902; www.russellsteakhouse.com) this month. Besides steaks, which are aged a minimum of 21 days and cut in-house, the offering also includes London broil, beef tips in burgundy and a handful of nonbeef options.

The restaurant is the first for Shelia Swiger, who worked for nearly 30 years in area steakhouses. Located in the rustic log structure that formerly housed the old Occoneechee Steakhouse, Russell's kitchen and dining room got a thorough makeover. It's still a casual place.

Next stop is Wake Forest, where Joseph Leli serves up traditional and contemporary Italian fare at New Moon Café (2101 S. Main St.; 554-3160; newmooncafenc.com ). The menu offers a range of possibilities, from pesto salmon salad to veal piccata to whole wheat fettuccine with zucchini and roasted tomato sauce. Joseph's Best, a gastronomic Italian flag of shrimp, pesto and red clam sauce, is among dishes that will be familiar to those who recall Leli as the original owner/chef of Babymoon Café in Morrisville.

Just down the road in Rolesville, you may find yourself making sure you haven't taken a wrong turn and wound up in Calabash. That Southern-fried seafood aroma is coming from the fryers of Fitzgerald's Seafood (308 Southtown Circle; 562-3474; fitzgeraldseafoodrestaurant.com ), where flounder, trout, catfish, shrimp, scallops and oysters are among the options you can order in any combination. The restaurant gets its name - and its culinary cred - from owner John Fitzgerald Hankins, who was born

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