We've confirmed with executive chef Mark Liberman this morning that Stephen di Asprinio has in fact left the restaurant he gave his name to, Forte di Asprinio, in West Palm Beach, "to pursue other opportunities." Liberman wouldn't, or couldn't tell us much more, except that Asprinio left sometime last week, but the coded language certainly sounds something like the ubiquitous politi-spin "to spend more time with his family." Rumors that the West Palm Beach restaurateur of Top Chef fame left under a cloud of money problems have yet to be confirmed, but Liberman says he's staying on as executive chef and his brother Josh will continue to manage the front of the house. Liberman told us that he may shift the menu and presentation a bit to make the food "less edgy," but that he plans to keep a "farm to table" focus on local, seasonal produce, and intimated that he and Asprinio didn't always see eye to eye. The restaurant is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bob Cuillo, who also own wineries in Tuscany.
-- Gail Shepherd