Where's Bruce?

On a quest for the best

Nurse Betty
It's one of those archetypal stories we can't resist: A group of former apprentices, now grown to full manhood, band together to find their erstwhile mentor, thank him for his inspiration, and share their successes. In our own local adaptation, unfolding even as we speak, the former-students-on-a-quest include Steve Parris (Fulton Bar & Grill, 1835 Fulton Road), Pete Tsirambidis (Pete's Corner Grille, 4457 Broadview Road), Gary Thomas (Ohio City Pasta), and Paul Taylor (Cleveland Browns' Stadium), and together they are searching for former Pier W executive chef Bruce Malley, who motivated them all, in the early 1980s, to pursue their passion for food. Parris says the seekers have heard that Malley now owns a restaurant in Beaver Falls, outside Pittsburgh, and they have been trying to find a way to track him down. If anyone out there knows Malley's exact whereabouts, the group would love to hear from you. Contact Parris by e-mail at [email protected] if you can help.

Wining and dining . . . There still may be a spot or two available for next week's Wine Dinner at One Walnut (Walnut Avenue at East Ninth Street), Marlin Kaplan's urbane downtown dining room. The Monday, Sept. 11 event spotlights handcrafted wines from two top California growers, Monterey County's Robert Pecota Vineyard and Napa Valley's Robert Sinskey Vineyard. Among other delights, the seasonal six-course feast will pair Beluga caviar on toast points with Gruet Blanc Noir NV Sparkling Wine; lobster-and-corn chowder with 1998 Robert Sinskey Chardonnay; lamb shanks with 1996 Robert Sinskey Claret; and macerated fresh fruit, with shortbread and crème frâiche, with a 1998 Robert Pecota Moscato d'Andrea. Cost is an entirely reasonable $65 per person. The September event is the first in a series of wine dinners to be held at the fashionable restaurant; if you miss this one, the others are scheduled for October 9, November 13, and December 11. For reservations and more information, call 216-575-1111.

Destination Ciao . . .The talented staff at downtown's Ciao -- exec chef Michael Fadel, sous chef Nick De Cocco, pastry chef Michael Jacobs, and GM Tim Maguire -- have grown restive, after several years of serving mostly as an amenity for Playhouse Square theatergoers, and have decided to challenge some of the city's big dogs for Cleveland's "destination dining" dollars. To that end, Fadel's new fall menu -- debuting a little later this month -- is the former Italian eatery's most ambitious and contemporary one yet. Earthy yet sophisticated items like zesty Smoked Chicken, Oyster Mushroom, and Root Vegetable Crepes, in a rich tasso cream sauce; grilled rare yellowfin tuna on sweet and russet potato planks, with hot-and-sour cabbage and a floret of pickled ginger; and Veal Roulade, stuffed with wild mushroom duxelle and Manchego cheese, with a caramelized-onion demi-glace, absolutely burst with flavor. As for sweeties, pastry chef Jacobs whips up a killer pecan pie, as well as a fresh-peach-and-challah "French toast" with a maple-rum sauce and vanilla gelato that is simply delish. Ciao (1515 Euclid Avenue, 216-621-8777) is open for lunch and dinner; reservations are a good idea.

They really like you . . . Linden Tavern (19865 Detroit Road, Rocky River; 440-333-1609) marks its 11th anniversary all this week by turning prices back to 1989 levels. There's still time to enjoy $6.99 prime rib tonight; $2.99 peel-and-eat shrimp (Friday); 99-cent domestic beer (Saturday); and 49-cent pierogi (Sunday) at the Eglinski family's friendly little West Side tavern.

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