Side Dish 

Up and Running or Almost Ready

Buzz is already starting for the sink-in, loungy interior coming together at Element, a new martini bar and nightspot at 119 N. 18th St. in the former Club Fahrenheit location. Tony Fernandez, longtime local bartender and DJ, is following through on the final details and plans to open this week, running Wednesday through Saturday nights.

Plush red sofas, two fireplaces, a VIP perch upstairs and large screens for movie nights give a relaxed vibe, and theme nights like champagne and cheesecake are aimed at bringing in the ladies.

"I'm not gunning for Tonic or Lucky Lounge," the amiable Fernandez says of the venture, in the works since January. "This is something completely different for Richmond, more of a hangout than a club and not a meat market."

The menu of martinis, tapas, light fare and a page full of desserts follows a theme of natural elements, and house DJ sounds will shift to suit the hour and the mood. www.elementloungeva.com

Piccola Pizzeria is taking its pizza, subs, pasta and salads across the river for a new location in an old family recreation center. Maldini is scheduled to open in mid-August at 4811 Forest Hill Ave., where the pool hall used to be. The original Piccola location has been a VCU-area fixture for two decades, serving southern Italian cuisine alongside a thriving take-out pizza business.

Look for rack of lamb with mint couscous and Bing cherry compote on the menu at Michelle's at Hanover Tavern, opening this week near Hanover Courthouse. Pea shoots in a raspberry coulis, lemon mousse parfait with candied almonds and other fruit-oriented dishes will be featured, with locally grown produce taking a starring role.

A novelty sparkling wine in tiny pink cans was the talk of a recent wine-tasting event at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar. Sofia, a California blanc de blancs from Francis Ford Coppola's vineyards, Niebaum-Coppola, was created for Sofia Coppola's wedding. Now the cans are the lastest thing for picnics and hostess gifts. — Deveron Timberlake

Have a tip about the Richmond restaurant scene? Send it to sidedish@styleweekly.com


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