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El Torito Grill to Reopen in September

August 05, 1993|ANNE MICHAUD | Anne Michaud is a staff writer for The Times Orange County Edition

The tragic explosion of a water heater on Sunday at El Torito Grill in Fashion Island will leave the restaurant's doors closed until about mid-September, said Lee Healy, a company spokeswoman. The explosion killed one person, injured five and destroyed several rooms inside the restaurant.

The restaurant's parent company, Restaurant Enterprises Group in Irvine, has set up counseling for the 25 employees who were there when the explosion occurred, Healy said. And they were meeting with the rest of the staff on Tuesday.

"It's been very painful," Healy said.

There was less damage to the building than was originally suspected. The dining and kitchen areas were largely untouched. "When I first saw it on TV," Healy said, "I thought we were going to have to raze the building and start over."

951 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach. (714) 640-2875.

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Randell's restaurant and jazz club changed its menu this week from mostly Italian dishes to mostly Creole. The reason for the change, said owner Randell Young, is that food critics liked the Creole dishes offered on the old menu better than the Italian items, and Creole cuisine is often lower in fat.

New appetizers include red beans, sausage and rice for $5.95 and Cajun crab cocktail (Dungeness crab tossed with corn, Bermuda onion and a Cajun mayonnaise) for $8.95.

Entrees include artichoke mustard chicken (grilled double breast of chicken topped with a Creole mustard sauce, rice and vegetables) for $15.95 and Natchitoches shrimp (shrimp marinated in lime and grilled, served with avocado salsa, rice and beans) for $17.95.

The menu will retain its five most popular pasta dishes and two other Italian entrees: grilled eggplant marinara and scampi ravioli.

3 Hutton Center Drive, Santa Ana. (714) 556-7700.

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Marcello Apollonio, who learned to cook in his native Italy, has been named new chef of Il Fornaio Cucina Italiana. Apollonio most recently worked as the chef of Prego restaurant in Irvine. He grew up in Southern Italy, where he worked as a teen-ager in family-owned restaurants. At age 18, he and a friend opened their own trattoria in Northern Italy.

The restaurant's former chef, Manuel Lira, will open the company's new restaurant in Sacramento.

18051 Von Karman Ave., Irvine. (714) 261-1444.

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The Princess Garden has expanded its menu to include a business lunch service along with its traditional dim sum. The business lunch is $30 for four people, and $16 for two. One four-person menu, for example, includes chicken cream corn soup, assorted dim sum, black pepper beef, Hawaiian fried rice and sauteed mixed vegetables. Lunch is served daily from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

11828 South St., Cerritos. (310) 809-1812.

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Dana Point's Heritage Brewing Company has unveiled a new menu--lighter and cheaper than the one before. "We've been doing pretty well with the beer side of it," said manager John Stoner. "We wanted to match the menu to the clientele."

The new menu features salads, pasta and sandwiches, as well as Mexican dishes and gourmet pizzas. Prices run from $4.25 to $6.50 for most items; pizzas start at $8.95.

Formerly the menu included stews and pot pies, Stoner said, and ran up to $14 for an entree.

24921 Dana Point Harbor Drive. (714) 240-2060.

Information for the Newsbites column can be Faxed to (714) 966-5663, or addressed to: Newsbites/OC Live!, The Times Orange County, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626. Or call (714) 966-7898.

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