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Elm Street Bakery, the wood-oven-centered bread, pizza and confections operation in East Aurora, has hired a chef and plans to add evening dinner service.

Brad Rowell of Park Country Club started Feb. 11, tasked with the mission of developing appetizers and entrees that exploit the massive brick oven at the heart of the operation at 72 Elm St. (652-4720, elmstreetbakery.com).

“We are going to keep the business as is, up to 5 p.m.,” said Jay DePerno, who owns the bakery with his wife, Kim. “Our goal is to really elevate the evening offering, tying into the focus on local and seasonal, and to employ that brick oven to its full capacity. Right now we’re probably 25 percent.”

Elm Street Bakery will be closed through Feb. 24 for winter break and oven work, reopening Feb. 25. After that, new dishes will be gradually introduced, he said.

The oven will still be making pizzas, DePerno said. Rowell will be developing appetizers and entrees in the $10-$20 range.

“From roasting meats, to more vegetables, all kinds of different dishes,” he said. “More family style, seasonal plates that go along with our bread.”

All of Elm Street Bakery’s chicken, eggs, turkey, beef and pork is produced in Western New York. “As the seasons allow, we will get all of our produce,” DePerno said. “We’re still figuring out how to preserve the harvest.”

Evening service will be upgraded too, from counter to table service. “Not fine dining, but a high level of service. If you want to come in a buy a loaf of bread, there will still be someone at the counter. If you’re coming in to eat, you will be served.”

That won’t all take effect at once, he said. “Our hope is by the middle part of March, or certainly by April, it’s all up and running. We’re building it as we go.”

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The former La Scala restaurant on Transit Road is becoming Vito e Vino, the latest Italian place in the Rizzo family’s restaurant stable.

“It’ll open in three or four weeks. We’re trying to open in time for Lent, early March, hopefully,” said owner Michael Rizzo. His company already runs Rizotto, Schnitzel & Co., and Banchetti by Rizzo’s in Amherst, and Rizzo’s Casa di Italia locations in Amherst and Tonawanda.

The 130-seat restaurant, 9210 Transit Road, will not be a copy of Rizzotto, the fine dining Italian place he opened last year on Maple Road, Rizzo said. “It’ll focus more on the seafood,” he said.

It’ll have a full bar and lounge. Rizzo has added a 15-seat chef’s table and seafood bar by the pizza oven. “We’ll be roasting a lot of whole fish,” he said. As at other Rizzo restaurants, he said, “All our pasta we make from scratch.”

(Hat tip to William Scheu.)

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