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New life for former Nob Hill brasserie location

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A prominent restaurant space in Nob Hill that has been empty since the closure of Brasserie La Provence several years back will soon have a new tenant.

A banner outside the 3,300-square-foot location at 3001 Central NE proclaims the imminent opening of the “Safari Grill Nob Hill – Exotic and Local Cuisine.”

A similarly named eatery once did business at 3600 N.M. 528 near Ellison NW, where the offerings were African-Indian fusion with a hint of the Land of Enchantment, said co-owner/chef Bill Young.

Before that, Young operated a food truck called NY’s Grill.

“It’s a much more visible space with more seating” at the new site, said Young, who is shooting for a mid-April opening in a neighborhood with a decidedly urban buzz and lots of foot traffic.

The menu is based on food from Young’s native Tanzania, although the latest iteration of The Safari Grill gives many of the East African-inspired dishes a little New Mexico kick.

The distinctive meat-based dishes will see new life as tacos, burritos or wraps, Young said.

The Grill’s samosa – a triangular, stuffed pastry, will include beef, potatoes and green chile. Marinated and grilled chicken or beef skewers can be dipped in sauces that include red and green chile versions as well as tamarind chutney.

Joining Young in the new business venture is Dr. Bopanna Ballachanda, who operates several audiology clinics in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Mama mia! New Italian eatery

The dining area at Il Bosco Italian Kitchen, which will be open for lunch and dinner.

Il Bosco Italian Kitchen, which is described as from-scratch restaurant serving world-class cuisine and vino, has opened at the La Bella Vita Lifestyle Center, 10126 Coors NW.

Executive Chef Steven Peyer

The business, owned by Dawn Davide, has a fine-dining executive chef at the helm named Steven Peyer. His resume includes jobs at the River Café in London and that temple for foodies – Chez Panisse in Berkeley. He also worked at Café Lago in Seattle and opened Peter Lowell’s and Forchetta Bastoni in Sebastopol, Calif. As a chef, farmer and a proponent of the farm-to-table and slow food movements, Peyer plans to to tap into the bounty from local growers. All produce used for the dishes is organic and non-GMO.

Il Bosco – it means the forest, or loosely translated for Albuquerque, the bosque – is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and from 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner Thursday through Monday. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ILBOSCONM/.

Chock-full of beans

The newest coffee roasting company in Albuquerque has the advantage of having one of the region’s top coffee entrepreneurs at its helm.

Former New Mexico Piñon Coffee Co. President Allen Bassett is hard at work launching an enterprise called Sol Rio Coffee. Partnering with Allen in the new business is co-owner Jonathan Priest, the COO of Vitality Works, a manufacturer of herbal and “nutriceutical” supplements.

Bassett spent nearly a decade helping Piñon, a business operated by his family, expand its manufacturing base, grow its customer reach and make a move into standalone coffee shops. Drawing from Bassett’s experience as a coffee roaster and marketer, Sol Rio aims to provide customers some delicious beverages as it ramps up. “It’s going to be wholesale packaged organically grown coffee with natural flavors,” Bassett said of the product lineup.

The biggest investment so far is the roaster purchased from Verena Street Coffee in Iowa. The machine roasts 500 pounds of coffee per hour. Plans for the roastery at 815 Bellamah NW include a tasting and brewing area for customers, brokers and vendors.

On a side note, Bassett said it was important that the name of the business have a Southwestern flavor. “One day I was driving over the river, and the sun came out” and inspiration struck. So Sol Rio it was meant to be.

Steve Sinovic covers the retail, restaurant and hospitality beats for the Journal. He can be reached at ssinovic@abqjournal.com or by calling 505-823-3919.

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