Chef Mark Militello Joins Bar Italia as Partner With Leo Balestrieri

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This should be interesting: Mark Militello, chef/restaurateur and, most recently, consultant, announced he's now a partner in the former Apicius Ristorante in Lantana -- now called Bar Italia. Apicius' former bigwig, Leo Balestrieri, is also involved in the restaurant.

"I'll be there full time starting Monday," Militello said. He's working on the menu and will be executive chef, he said in a phone call today.

Militello said that he was in talks with the New York restaurant group that

has taken over Bar Italia and that a deal was struck for the partnership. Balestrieri is still involved, he said.

Another restaurant from the group is "in the works

for Palm Beach," he said, though he declined to say if it would be Harry's Bar. Balestrieri recently announced he'd bring Harry's to Palm Beach.

Bar Italia is "gorgeous," Militello said. That won't change, though the menu will, he said -- downward in price.

 "We're working on the menu with a focus on price points." Diners had

complained about the pricey tickets on the dishes, though the foods won

raves from critics. A few dishes will change or be added too, he said,

but favorites will remain. "We'll work with the same high-quality


Militello was most recently in Palm Beach County as chef at the Office, David Manero's Delray Beach restaurant.

An original member of the "Mango Gang" of chefs from Miami, Militello started as one of Dennis Max's chefs at Max's Place in Miami; he bought out the restaurateur and turned it into Mark's Place.

After Hurricane Andrew hit the city, he moved the restaurant to Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale and won critics and diners with his contemporary Italian and American fare. Riding that success, he opened Mark's CityPlace and Mark's in the Park, Boca Raton; all three closed in 2008.

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