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A shot of Sambuca

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When Massimo Albano and his partners, Fausto Albano and Stephen Dimassimo, were looking for a location for the casual counterpart to their successful East Rochester Italian eatery, Lemoncello, they didn't have to look farther than across the street. After renovating the space to create more of a gastropub atmosphere, while using similar textures to their flagship restaurant, they opened Sambuca Bar and Grill (146 West Commercial Street) last December.

The new restaurant is a split off for their pizza business and allows them to serve lunch, which they couldn't do at Lemoncello. "People were scared of the linen table cloths at Lemoncello," Massimo says, "even though we are a casual restaurant. Some people just want pizza and a burger." Pizza Chef Luca Isopi is from Abruzzo, Italy, and is creating Neapolitan-style pizza out of the restaurant's stone oven. The Lemoncello pizza ($16) is topped with white garlic parmesan sauce, sliced tomatoes, shredded mozzarella, prosciutto, and arugula, and drizzled with truffle oil.

"We really wanted to make the two restaurants different, to create a whole different vibe for each of them," Massimo says. Menu items like the veggie burger ($11), an 8-ounce portabella mushroom, served with American cheese, tomatoes, and onions, and the meatloaf ($12), served with smashed potatoes and an onion and mushroom gravy, deviate from the traditional Italian menu of Lemoncello.

The bar has 12 rotating taps, featuring many local breweries, and its spirit options include local distillers as well. Mondays are "bring your own bottle of wine," and happy hour is every day from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sidewalk seating will be available when the weather gets warmer.

Sambuca Bar and Grill is located at 146 West Commercial Street, East Rochester, and is open Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday, noon to 10:00 p.m. 348-9714; sambucabargrill.com.

Quick bites

There's a lot of hate for Valentine's Day, but one positive from the Hallmark Holiday are the creative menus it inspires. Below are some of the Valentine's foodie events happening in town — bring your partner, bring a friend, or take a cue from Donna Meagle and Tom Haverford from "Parks and Recreation" and "treat yo self."

Joe Bean Coffee Roasters (1344 University Avenue) will serve a Three Sisters Valentine's Brunch on Sunday, February 12. The menu was inspired by a visit to the Iroquois Corn Project facility in Ganondagan, New York, and will feature a main course made with white corn, winter squash, lentil beans, eggs, and McCann's Brautwurst along with two additional courses. Seatings are at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and reservations are $23 per person with a wine and cider pairing available for an additional $9. Make a reservation in person, or online at joebeanroasters.com.

The Daily Refresher (293 Alexander Street) will host "Moon Over Manhattan: A Dinner and Cocktail Pairing" from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 14. Chef Adam Peterson and Head Bartender Matthew Pawloski will celebrate the city that never sleeps with a five-course meal and cocktail pairing. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased through eventbrite.com.

The Cub Room (739 South Clinton Avenue) will feature a Chef's Valentine's Day Dinner with a tasting menu that includes a glass of bubbly. All menu items will be available a la carte as well. Entrée choices include Sea Scallops, Game Hen, Pork Tenderloin, and Prime Sirloin Steak. $50 per person. Call 363-5694 to make a reservation.

The Red Fern (283 Oxford Street) will host a Valentine's Day Vegan Prix Fixe Dinner that includes four courses for $42 per person. There will be $25 wine bottle specials and a complimentary sparkling wine or kombucha toast included. Seatings will be offered from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. All selections are vegan with an optional gluten-free preparation. Call 563-7633 to make a reservation or email info@redfernrochester.com.

Rochester chef and Hell's Kitchen finalist Kimberly Roth will be a special guest chef for a five-course food and beer pairing at the Rohrbach Brewing Company's Railroad Street Beer Hall (97 Railroad Street) on Tuesday, February 21, at 6 p.m. Guests will have a chance to meet and chat with Roth. Tickets are $60 per person and space is limited. Purchase tickets at rohrbachs.com.

Openings

Doc Holliday's American Whiskey Bar and Grille has opened at 7 Lawrence Street.

Closings

Half Moon Creative Salads (2900 Monroe Avenue) has closed.

Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to food@rochester-citynews.com.

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