What'll fill the grill?

Okay, so we still didn’t have any luck reaching Jamie Darby, former owner/chef of the now-defunct Papagallo Grill in the Seminole Commons shopping center up on 29 North across from Forest Lakes. But we did reach the shopping center’s landlords, Dr. Anthony Valente and his wife Mary. According to the good doctor, “a sit-down family Italian place” has expressed interest in the space, and he hopes to have a deal inked in the next week or so.
Though Valente declined to give us details on what’s going into the space, we heard through the grapevine that Pizza Bella, the gourmet pizzeria in the Mill Creek Shopping Center on 20 South was the interested party.
And sure enough, a quick call to Pizza Bella was all the confirmation we needed.
“It’s not quite a done deal,” says Willie Manning, co-owner of Pizza Bella, “but it’s a very good possibility.
Manning and his mother, Christine, have owned the restaurant since it opened in August 1999. The duo is in the middle of negotiations for the second spot right now, he says, and they believe they are the only party being considered at the moment.
If all goes well, as they expect, the new place will most likely be called Pizza Bella North and could open as soon as July 1. The menu will be pretty much the same as the original Pizza Bella’s– about 50/50 gourmet pizza and Italian entrees– though there will be more focus on daily specials at the new location.
As for business down at Mill Creek, Manning says all is well. He’s added new selections for the spring and summer menu, including eggplant and seafood dishes.

In a pinch
Word hit the street a couple of weeks ago: the Corner’s getting another restaurant, this one on Elliewood Avenue, directly across from the Biltmore Grill and next door to Martha’s Café.
The Corner Restaurant and Bar (or CRAB, as it’ll be known) is the brainchild of four guys: Al Lundgren, Mike Norris, Anthony Freeman, and Jason Connelly. Freeman, who logged eight years restaurant experience at Virginia Beach, will run the CRAB, while the other three will stay out of the day-to-day operations.
Dish spoke with the anything-but-crabby Connelly last week to get the scuttlebutt on CRAB.
As you may have guessed, CRAB will serve… crabs! But that’s not all. Connelly says there will be a raw bar with oysters, clams, mussels, and shrimp, as well as non-seafood choices such as pasta, fried chicken, sandwiches, and salads.
Blue crabs, purchased directly from crabbing boats on the Bay, will be sold steamed or live to go. If you order a bushel, Connelly says, delivery will be free.
As for the feel of the 100-year-old spot, which once housed a software company, Connelly says look for a beach party atmosphere, complete with tiki torches and outdoor seating in the front and the back.
“We’ll have the late and the louder crowds,” Connelly told us, which will likely be drawn by the live music acts CRAB will host out on the back deck.
Demolition began last week, and Connelly estimates an early July opening.