April 17, 2014

Aug 6, 201209:36 AMTable Talk

Small bites: Range update, Tragara overhaul

Aug 6, 2012 - 09:36 AM
Small bites: Range update, Tragara overhaul

Bryan Voltaggio photographed at Whitemore Farm for the May/June 2012 issue of Bethesda Magazine. Photo by Erick Gibson

Opening delays for Range, Bethesda jazz club

Range, celebrity chef Bryan Voltaggio’s much-anticipated restaurant that was supposed to open in mid-September at the Chevy Chase Pavilion, is now scheduled for a mid-November opening, according to Voltaggio’s publicist, Melissa McCart.

The whole shopping center is undergoing a $32 million renovation, so it’s no wonder that construction delays have come into play. I checked out the indoor mall recently, and most of it was impassable.

Come the pre-Thanksgiving holiday season, however, all the shops will launch simultaneously with a series of opening events, said McCart.

Even if the interior is finished sooner at Range, the staffing needs and training at the restaurant are so huge, that any extra time will be welcome, McCart added. The restaurant, located in the former Stein Mart space, will seat 275 diners, and include a coffee bar, in-house bakery, wine store and more. 

Also on the wait list: The opening of Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, originally slated for September, has also been pushed to November. The club will replace the art deco Bethesda Theatre at 7719 Wisconsin Avenue.  

Tragara to revamp menu

Following in the footsteps of Persimmon (see blog post, July 31), Tragara, the longtime Italian restaurant in Bethesda, is bringing its menu and décor down a notch.

“I see new restaurants doing well,” says owner Claude Amsellem. “They’re more casual.”

Unlike Persimmon, which closed for renovation, Tragara will remain open. And there will be no changes in the upstairs banquet room. “Bar Mitzvahs will stay the same,” said Amsellem. “The parties hold me…if not, I would not be here,” he added.

Menu prices in the dining room will be lowered, with no main courses over $25, and the pricey veal chop, osso buco and lobster dishes will be history. Pasta options will be under $10. 

In keeping with current trends, there will be more small plates—25 to 30 appetizers, said Amsellem. More informal items such as buffalo burgers will be added as well. The menu changes should be in place by September.

Tragara’s remodeling efforts will be undertaken slowly; the first item on the agenda will be to “get nice new tables,” and eliminate tablecloths, said Amsellem.

The efforts come in the aftermath of an offer Amsellem was entertaining to sell the restaurant. He mulled it over, and decided there would be “no deal.” 

“Eighteen years, I’m here,” says the 72-year-old restaurateur. “I’m going to be here for 25.”

Tragara Ristorante, 4935 Cordell Ave., 301-951-4935, www.tragara.com

Gator Ron’s gets going

Gator Ron’s, a new line of Bloody Mary mixes and barbecue and wing sauces that I first wrote about in the July-August issue of the magazine, are now available. 

The flavor-packed products celebrate the memory of Ron Griffith, a Bethesda resident who died in November 2011 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Griffith had been passionate about his sauces and drink mixes, which he hoped would someday become commercially produced; his wife Connie made his dream come true.

What’s more, 10 percent of the sales proceeds from Gator Ron’s will go to the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at John Hopkins. 

Gator Ron’s products are now available at the Chevy Chase Supermarket at 8531 Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase, the Grosvenor Market at 10401 Grosvenor Place in Rockville, and every other Sunday at the Bethesda Central Farm Market at Bethesda Elementary School (next availability will be Sunday, August 19).

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About This Blog

Welcome to Table Talk, the blog version of the column in Bethesda Magazine. Be one of the first to find out about new restaurants and food shops, and join in the lively discussion about first bites, snipes and recommendations.

Before becoming Food Editor of Bethesda Magazine, Carole Sugarman was an award-winning food reporter for The Washington Post for 20 years. She has also written for national food magazines and a food policy newsletter, as well as judged cookbook and cooking contests. She lives in Chevy Chase where she eats PB&J for lunch when she’s not working.

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