With Pagano Out, Customs House Reopens as Chris Michael's Restaurant and Lounge | Clean Plate Charlie | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

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With Pagano Out, Customs House Reopens as Chris Michael's Restaurant and Lounge

A week after learning that Hell's Kitchen veteran Ralph Pagano was no longer executive chef at Customs House in Boca Raton, the restaurant has undergone a massive face-lift. No longer Customs House, it will now move forward as Chris Michael's Restaurant and Lounge.

Charlie spoke to the restaurant's general manager, Angelo Morinelli, who said the place is moving full steam ahead with the new concept. He explained they're still waiting on proper signage to arrive, but the new menu -- and chef -- are already in place.

Egyptian-born chef Yousrey Hosein will take over the kitchen, coming over from the Bova Restaurant group. Morinelli himself has over 40 years of restaurant experience, most recently opening Cucina D'Angelo in Boca Center.

Morinelli didn't go into detail regarding the split between the restaurant's ownership and its former chef, Pagano. He did say that there was a disagreement between partners that led to one owner, Chris Kontos, taking sole control of the restaurant.

According to Morinelli, Kontos currently operates four successful restaurants in New Jersey, including Chris Michael's Steakhouse and Lounge (open table mini-site here).

The Boca location is patterned closely after that restaurant. It

features a broad, eclectic menu of Italian cuisine, including imported

pasta, veal, and chicken scallopini and grilled chops. A sushi chef

will also prepare Japanese-inspired sushi, culled from a collection of

internationally sourced seafood. Prime aged steaks, a signature of the New Jersey steak house, will also be on the menu.

"Diners today, when they go out with six, eight, ten friends, they read, they

check the internet, they investigate before they visit a restaurant,"

said Morinelli. "What we're doing is a new, modern world cuisine where

we can provide the best Italian, seafood, steaks, or sushi -- whatever

our customers are in the mood for."

In addition to the broad menu, the restaurant will feature an upstairs

lounge and sports bar with flat-screen televisions, a wide beer and

liquor selection, and private rooms for meetings or gatherings.

Morinelli also plans on introducing nightly prix-fixe specials, carving

nights, and happy hour with $5 martinis ($6 premium vodkas) and complementary hors d'oeuvres beginning next week. A website is currently in the works as well.

As for Pagano, he and Charlie have been playing phone tag all week. We'll let you know his status as soon as possible.

Chris Michael's Restaurant and Lounge

10 E. Boca Raton Road, Boca Raton 33432


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John Linn

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