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Cocina Mizado to open in late September 

  A new cross-cultural Latin restaurant concept from the founders of the Zea Rotisserie & Grill and Semolina restaurant chains is taking shape at a prominent address on Metairie Road. Construction is underway for Cocina Mizado (5080 Pontchartrain Blvd., phone n.a.), which will occupy the same site that was a Semolina location for many years. Cocina Mizado is expected to open in late September.

  "We'll be doing Latin American, but definitely not Tex-Mex," says Greg Reggio, one of the partners in Cocina Mizado. "Don't expect combo platters and chips and salsa that hit the table as soon as you walk in. We have enough of those around town."

  Instead, Reggio says, the menu will draw broadly from Mexican, Caribbean and Central American traditions and give them modern twists, while working in contemporary Peruvian flavors, which already pack a lot of their own fusion factors between Asian, Andean and Spanish influences.

  "Peruvian is really hot right now, and we're excited by all the potential that gives us," Reggio says. "We'll be taking the base of what these cuisines are about, and presenting them to people in a fun, hip setting."

  Reggio says prices will be roughly on par with the company's Zea menus, and specialty drinks will be part of the program. Cocina Mizado will have a large bar that will connect with an outdoor patio space shaded by mature oaks already on the site.

  Don't go looking for "mizado" in a Spanish-to-English dictionary. It's a portmaneau of two Spanish words, combining mirador (viewpoint) and cruzado (to cross). Reggio says this represents the restaurant's view on Latin cuisines and also its location near the crossroads between New Orleans and Metairie. The potential for future expansion of the concept also guided the name choice.

  "We wanted a name we could trademark for a restaurant we think could grow," Reggio says.

The restaurant will be roughly the same size as the Semolina store it replaces — about 5,000 square feet. Though the building appears tall in renderings, and includes a 40-foot tower, the restaurant space will all be on one floor.

  Cocina Mizado is a project of Taste Buds Management, the restaurant development and consulting firm Reggio runs with partners Hans Limburg and Gary Darling. The three men created the Semolina restaurant concept in 1991 and Zea in 1997. The Semolina location at the Metairie Road site was destroyed by fire in 2006.

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