Restaurant News & Reviews

Cameron Village gets new eateries

Cameron Village, whose dining options had gotten a little anemic with the closings of Nelsons, The Grape and Café Cyclo, has gotten a double shot in the culinary arm. Cameron Bar and Grill (2018 Clark St.; 755-2231; www.cameronbargrill.com) is owned by the De Martino family, who also own Café Tiramisu and North Ridge Pub in North Raleigh. Rodolfo De Martino, who is managing the family's newest venture, describes it as "a grown-up alternative to Village Draft House" (a popular pub in the same shopping center).

The menu lives up to that description with dishes including bacon-wrapped scallops, Granny Smith apple and walnut salad, chicken Florentine with shrimp, and filet mignon topped with blue cheese butter (available in 4-ounce and 8-ounce versions). A separate section of the menu is dedicated to the homemade meatballs, eggplant Parmesan and other Italian fare that is the foundation of a family reputation dating to 1973, when patriarch Paul De Martino opened Piccolo Mondo. Sandwiches and traditional pub fare are also offered, as is a children's menu.

The owners have given the dining room (formerly the Figs Market space) an understated traditional look with a mahogany bar and wainscoting, and sepia-toned photographic murals of vintage cars and local scenery. The mood is quietly inviting and subtly masculine in a way that evokes pubs of a bygone era.

Cameron Hospitality Group, owner of Fosters American Grille (521 Daniels St.; 821-5969; www.fostersamericangrille.com), has rolled back the clock in a different way. It has brought an erstwhile restaurant and popular late night spot in the Village back to life. According to principal partner John Powers, many of the favorite dishes at the old Foster's (crab dip, house-made potato chips, shrimp and grits, and Southwest chicken pasta, to name a few) have been revived for the new menu. What's more, these dishes are being offered at the same prices as in 2004, when the original Foster's closed.

The dropped apostrophe in its name isn't the only difference between then new Fosters and the old one, however. Chef Brian Florence has put his imprint on the menu with dishes such as Aztec chicken salad, Bangkok beef sandwich and bourbon buttered salmon. And the decor, inherited from the previous tenant (the short-lived Nelsons, also owned by Cameron Hospitality Group) with only minor changes, is considerably glitzier than returning Foster's faithful will recall. Fosters American Grille is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. (with a late night menu in effect after 10 p.m.).

On a sad note, 1705 Prime has closed in North Raleigh. Owner Dean Ogan plans to use the building as a catering facility.

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