under new owners
Downtown Italian restaurant Caffé Milano is under new ownership.
Italian transplants Carlo and Laura Borella, who opened the eatery at 46 W. Congress St. 15 years ago, sold it to fellow Italians Alfredo and Fulvia Steffenone on Dec. 1.
Carlo Borella said he and his wife decided to sell the restaurant so that they could “take a break” after years of working up to 16 hours a day. Borella ran the front of the house while his wife was the chef.
“We were pioneers of downtown. … We have believed in downtown for 15 years. We just need a break,” he said.
The couple will leave in January for a three-month trek through Asia and will spend next summer in their native Italy. Borella said they may decide to get back into Tucson’s restaurant market in a couple of years.
The Steffenones, meanwhile, will gradually expand Caffé Milano’s menu in the coming months. The restaurant is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and serves dinner from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.
Kitchen set to open
Ryan Clark’s new venture, Agustín Kitchen, will open Tuesday at the Mercado San Agustín, 100 S. Avenida del Convento.
The restaurant is the rebirth of the short-lived French restaurant Agustín Brasserie, which closed last June.
Clark, a two-time Tucson Iron Chef who made a name for himself at Lodge on the Desert, said Agustín Kitchen has no true French accents. Instead, it is focusing on a menu he described as “new American” that places an emphasis on local products and foods.
Dinner entrees run $14 to $24, and lunch starts at $10.
Agustín Kitchen will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, when brunch will be served. On Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant hosts happy hour from 9 p.m. to close.
Arts group adds reason to savor the region
Tucson will host the inaugural Savor Southern Arizona Food and Wine Festival on Feb. 1 at the Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way.
It promises to marry the region’s vibrant restaurants with its emerging wine industry. Some of the region’s finest chefs representing as many as 40 restaurants will show off their culinary excellence alongside craft brewers, food artisans and vintners.
Among the restaurants already signed up to participate is Acacia Real Food + Cocktails, Brushfire BBQ, Café Botanica, Fini’s Landing, Tavolino and Agustín Kitchen.
Tickets are $65 in advance at saaca.org or by calling 797-3959. It’s $75 on the day of the event, and the price includes food and wine tastings.
The festival is sponsored by the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance.
Brushfire tops off ’cue
with ice cream
The owners of the Brushfire BBQ Co. are expanding into ice cream.
Ben Rine and Jared Wren are turning the private party room at their east-side location, 7080 E. 22nd St., into an ice creamery that will offer 24 flavors, made in-house and served in sundae, cone, malt and milkshake forms.
Standards like chocolate and vanilla will be available, but also unique options.
The Brushfire crew has been testing a variety of homemade concoctions, including a hazelnut with chunks of chocolate-covered graham crackers and marshmallows and an ice cream that comes with thin slices of pork belly.
“We are getting inventive,” said Rine, who opened the second Brushfire in October 2011. The original location, 2745 N. Campbell Ave., opened in 2007.
Rine said the ice cream concept was conceived on a whim but will hopefully prove fruitful.
Crews have been working on the 1,600-square-foot space, connected to the restaurant’s main dining area, for the last three months.
Rine said that they hope to have ice creamery open shortly after Christmas.
The Brushfire BBQ side will remain open in the meantime.
Follow the progress at facebook.com/brushfirebbq