by Virginia B. Wood

Traveling down Duval Street in Hyde Park, people have been wondering what the hell has been impaled on top of the famous "fork in the road" in front of Hyde Park Bar & Grill. Local sculptor Dale Whistler has created a giant potato in honor of the 80 tons of potatoes that are cut into the famous Hyde Park battered french fries every year. Next time you're in for a french fry fix, congratulate owners Bick and Erica Brown on Hyde Park's 15th Anniversary. Other noteworthy news in the Hyde Park area is that Erica's mom, Concetta Mastroaianni has taken over Dolce Vita, giving the little gelateria at 4222 Duval just the Italian touch it has needed. A long-time restaurant professional, Concetta has recently relocated to Austin and is busy whipping up Dolce Vita's many flavors of gelati and sorbetti. She is also making her own cannoli and fresh zabaglione to order, and further plans include the addition of a humidor and a good cigar selection that can be enjoyed on the deck outside the shop. Erica Brown also reports that their long-rumored new venture, Manga, an Asian Diner is beginning construction in the old Dismukes Pharmacy location at Duval and 43rd. The name comes from manga, the Japanese serial comic book phenomenon, and the illustrated form of manga, known as anime, will run on video screens in the finished restaurant. Manga's menu will include
dim-sum, noodle dishes, stir-fries, soups and a large selection of salads, plus an extensive wine list especially chosen to compliment the various Asian dishes. Look for this intriguing new spot to open up after the first of the year... The challenge for health-conscious consumers dining in local restaurants just got easier with the publication of Dining Lite in Austin (self-published, $12.95). This pocket-sized guide book includes the calories, fat and sodium contents of selected dishes from more than 120 Austin restaurants and food manufacturers. The authors are Fran Werner, a behavioral counselor who specializes in weight management and nutrition education and Audrey Glazer, a businesswoman concerned about improving her family's health through nutrition. The authors interviewed restaurants and asked them to name some of their low-calorie, low-fat and low-sodium dishes. Restaurants are listed by category (Asian, BBQ, Italian, etc.) and approximate nutrition information appears with every dish. Many establishments expressed willingness to accommodate customer requests for such things as sauces or dressings on the side, no MSG or grilled rather than fried dishes. The new book is available in local bookstores, some fitness centers, and grocery stores... Local cooking schools are ready with great holiday entertaining ideas. Cooking with Marie-Claire (323-5832) offers a series entitled The Book, the Cook and the Vintner featuring menus from some of Marie-Claire's favorite new cookbooks with wines chosen to accompany them. Breed & Co Westlake (328-3960) has a Holiday Entertaining class with Niki Reynolds on Nov. 12 and an Evening of Modern Italian Cuisine with dynamic husband-and-wife chef duo Emmett and Lisa Fox on November 19. At Williams-Sonoma (338-4080), caterer Greg Petrosewicz will present a Do-Ahead Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov. 12 and an Elegant Holiday dinner the very next day. Call the numbers listed for reservations.

Send restaurant news, chef/menu changes, food events, or intriguing rumors to: "food-o-file," The Austin Chronicle, PO Box 49066, Austin, TX 78765.

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Virginia B. Wood, Sept. 18, 2015

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