What's cooking/capsule reviews 

What's cooking:Bottini's in Harrison; Capers; Poncho's.

 Bottini’s Restaurant, a fine-dining spot in downtown Harrison, was profiled in the November issue of Southern Living. The magazine noted some of the restaurant’s daring entrees, such as lobster francese, a 16-ounce lobster tail sautéed in a white wine sauce.
Nicholas Bottini, the chef and owner, said, “I’m pretty proud of [the Southern Living article]. They talked to me last April. ” The restaurant has been on the Harrison square for four years.
“I’m pretty happy here,” the owner says. “We draw from Branson [Mo.], Mountain Home and Springfield [Mo.]. I have a bank vault from the 1920s and table inside the bank vault that we use for people wanting that special occasion. We’ve had four proposals made in the bank vault. It’s very unique for Harrison.”
Besides the Southern Living piece, Bottini’s recently received a three-diamond award from AAA.
Bottini says his beef comes from Colorado, and fresh fish is flown in weekly (such as salmon and red snapper). He also specializes in original Northern and Southern Italian pasta dishes. Bottini’s also has a Sunday brunch ranging from eggs Benedict and Belgium waffles to steak au poivre. Bottini recommends reservations, especially on the weekends.
The restaurant is at 816 N. Main St. The phone number is 870-743-9873. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday for lunch; 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday for dinner, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

 Capers, the casual fine-dining restaurant on Highway 10 owned by the folks who also run Cajun’s Wharf, has opened the Market at Capers in a building connected to the eatery. The store offers gourmet cheeses, jams, salads, appetizers and prepared Capers meals that can be finished at home. The market opened Oct. 31. For more information, call 868-7600.

 A public hearing will be held at City Hall at 5 p.m. Nov. 10 to determine if Poncho’s Villa can stay open at night at its new location and, in essence, whether owner Nancy Johnson will stay open at all. She says she can’t stay in business if she has to close at 6:30 p.m., which some neighbors of her location at Tyler and Woodlawn in the Hillcrest neighborhood want her to do. The site is zoned for a restaurant. Current closing time is 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. (It also serves lunch. The Times reviewed the plate lunch and Tex-Mex restaurant in our Sept. 15 issue.)

Capsule reviews:

VINO’S We like several of the in-house brews here, love the hot, bubbly, rich and tomatoey sausage calzones, and the pizza’s a pleasant change of pace from a lot of the others around town. It’s all those pleasing aspects that help us not mind — how do we put this nicely — a bit of funkiness about the ancient building, maybe brought on by the next door beer vats, maybe by a pre-Katrina New Orleans attitude. At night, as you know, it rocks, especially for the younger, heavier-music-loving, tattooed and earrings-through-the-lips crowd. On a recent lunch visit, our first in a while, we dined on a delicious deluxe sandwich (ham, pepperoni, cheese, bell pepper, black olives, topped with a delightful dressing). We went with the half sandwich, bag of chips, and a small salad that was loaded with cheese, black olives and a tasty creamy Italian. Don’t tell the boss, but we complemented it all with a pint of Vino’s own delicious Firehouse pale ale. Companion decided the whole deluxe sandwich sounded good enough, despite our urging to try a calzone, and pronounced it terrific. Two of us dined at lunch for $12, including the brew. When you arrive, you order at the cash register, pay after ordering and take a funny plastic framed picture (ours was of Christ of the Ozarks) to your table so the wait staff can find you with your food. 923 W. Seventh St. Beer and wine. CC $-$$ 375-8466 LD daily.

FAYRAYS Smack in the heart of a bustling city square straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting sits a surprisingly hip restaurant. Its black-and-white color scheme, the mural of a stylized urban skyline and an ambitious menu (escargot as a lunch appetizer) are quite a departure from Middle America surroundings in the land of the Oil and Brine Museum. It’s a fine place, with good food, friendly service and a two-fisted burger with crispy fries for those not ready for snapper almandine, veal marsala or asiago-stuffed olives, to name a few items from a menu that spans a spectrum from meatloaf and chicken-fried steak to ravioli in Creole crab sauce. We dined alone (great company) on soup (humdrum chicken and artichoke; we suspect the always-available roasted red pepper is better, judging by how many people around us were ordering it), Maurice salad (a tangy blend of romaine lettuce, Caesar-style dressing, spicy olives and minced turkey) and a silky cup of creme brulee. Not exactly a blue-plate special, but it was a civilized way to pass a Friday lunch in one of the state’s most engaging downtowns. We could have had a top-shelf martini, too, but we had driving to do. It’s a private club but membership is free. 110 E. Elm St. Full bar. CC. $$ 870-863-4000. LD Mon.-Fri.


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