Restaurant Notes & Quotes: Pizza, Brunch and Dinners on the River

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Fiesta is done, but there is more to come on the food, wine and restaurant scene in San Antonio.

Fundraiser a Feast for ARTS San Antonio.

ARTS San Antonio Floating Feastival 2010 patrons Mary Martinez, Xitlalt Herrera – Salazar,Trudy Madan, Rocio Rosenstein and Carla Ruiz.

The 29th annual fundraiser for ARTS San Antonio is coming May 10-11. The Floating Feastival 2011 offers gourmet dining while cruising along the San Antonio River.  Chefs will create a multi-course progressive meal complete with wine, beer, and soft drinks for the boat ride, which will last anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours. .

Culinary partners include Achiote River Café and Bar, Boudro’s Texas Bistro on The River Walk, Luciano Ristorante, and Zocca Cuisine d’Italia.   Although not required, guests are encouraged to dress in colorful, casual clothes. Check-in is at 6 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt, 600 E. Market St. Cruise boats set off at 7 p.m. Individual tickets are $150, or you can reserve a 16-passenger boat for $2,200. Proceeds from this event support the arts and education programs of ARTS San Antonio.

Contact Lee at 210-226-2891; e-mail; or visit

Becker, Brasserie Pavil get together for Lavender Dinner

Spanish Lavender in bloom at Becker Vineyards.

On April 28, Brasserie Pavil hosts a five-course lavender dining experience, and each course is paired with a different wine from Becker Vineyards.

Chef Rene Bajeux’s menu is as follows: BlueBonnet Farm Arugula with Smoked Foie Gras Torchon Apricot Lavender Champagne Vinaigrette with Becker Viognier;  Bay of Fundy Wild Salmon, Shiitake Mushroom and Napa Cabbage, Tomatoes, Lavender Kieffer Lime Broth with Becker Chenin Blanc; Tea-smoked H Quail, Lavender Honey Glaze Roasted Corn and French Lentils with Becker Malbec; Broken Arrow Ranch Antelope Chop, Grilled Peaches, First of the Seasons Black Truffle, Porcini Risotto, Lavender Herbs de Provence Jus with Becker Reserve Cabernet; and Rosemary-infused Funnel Cake Cone, Lavender Gelato and Citrus Compote with Becker Late Harvest Clementine. 6:30 p.m.

Brasserie Pavil is at 1818 N. Loop 1604. Call 210-479-5000. Cost: $65.

Two new pizza restaurants open

Pepper and onion pizza at Big G's Pizzeria.

Big G’s Pizzeria is New York-style bliss at 7806 Callaghan Road at Torino Drive. The menu features wings, calzones, gyros and sandwiches, including a Philly cheesesteak, in addition to its generous slices. It is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and noon-10 p.m. Saturday. Call 210-384-8899.

Meanwhile, Deco Pizzeria, at the corner corner of Fredericksburg Road and Zarzamora, has refreshed the facade of what was once a filling station, then a series of Mexican restaurants. The fresh, pale green and white paint and “Deco” sign are on the building at 1815 Fredericksburg Road, in what is termed the city’s Deco District. Deco pizza? We’ll see.

A bacon- and brisket-infused Bloody Mary at Francesca's at Sunset.

Brunch at Francesca’s

The brunch at Francesca’s at Sunset is off to a delicious start — and the views out the famous windows are just about as lovely at breakfast time as they are at twilight.

We sampled several of the new brunch dishes at Francesca’s, which is in the Westin La Cantera. Many of the tastes were excellent, including a chilled, clear gazpacho served in a martini glass as well as a dish of Kobe beef rib and seared foie gras that was perfectly cooked and utterly rich. A beautiful lobster salad with grapefruit supremes and lightly dressed greens was a refreshing appetizer, while the eggs Benedict featured crab cakes rather than Canadian bacon, and a nice substitution it was.

A trio of Bloody Marys are well worth investigating if you’re in need of an eye-opener. One is made with bacon- and brisket-infused vodka, giving the drink real heft.

“Brunch is here to stay; it’s something we are going to build on,” said Isaac Cantu, one of the chefs on the staff. The kitchen staff for Sunday brunch was hand-picked from restaurants throughout the hotel.

Francesca’s at Sunset is in the Westin La Cantera, 16641 La Cantera Parkway. Call 210-558-6500.

Morton’s raises the bar on its wine and spirits program

Morton’s the Steakhouse is unveiling a range of new drink selections that include a variety of boutique and hard-to-find wines at value prices.

  • For the sports fan: Morton’s was announced as the Official Steakhouse of the PGA Tour. To celebrate, a new Above Par wine menu was created. Included are the first vintage wine from Jack Nicklaus’ reserve line, a 2008 Jack Nicklaus Private Reserve (Napa), as well as an Ernie Els Bordeaux Blend (Stellenbosch, South Africa) and Greg Norman Shiraz Reserve (Adelaide, Australia). Morton’s has also created a signature Double Cross Mortini, garnished with a Chilean baby pear skewered on a golf tee, with $1 of every Mortini donated to Birdies for the Brave, a non-profit organization that supports military home front groups that provide critical programs and services for wounded warriors and military families.
  • For the beer connoisseur: Beer enthusiasts can experience vintage beers and ultra-premium crafts, trappists and lambics, including Lindemans Raspberry Lambic (Belgium), Fuller’s 2010 Vintage Ale (England) and Paulaner Hefe Wiezen (Germany). The menu also features an Orval Trappist Ale (Belgium).

  • For the wine aficionado: Morton’s has expanded its wine by the glass menu. The lineup includes Mollydooker among others. Guests can also experience several fine wines only at Morton’s restaurants in the U.S., including Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon (Howell Mountain 2005) and Freemark Abbey Cabernet (Napa 2002).  St. Supery Moscato (Napa 2009) is another new addition for those who are looking to pair something a little sweeter with their main course or as an after dinner drink.

Also launched in March 2011 is Morton’s introduced first national sommelier team. It is composed of 12 Morton’s sommeliers from within the company.


Le Midi Bistro, 301 E. Houston St., has closed.

If you have restaurant news, e-mail Bonnie Walker at or John Griffin at

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