IF YOU THINK the Dow-Jones has been volatile, you probably haven't checked pizza prices lately. In August I complained about the pizzas at Flutes being priced at $18.50, $4 more than the same ones at Windows. Faster than a computer printout, Flutes dropped its prices. Now those pizzas are $15. But that's not all. Windows seems to have raised its prices; at last check, its dinner pizzas were running $15.50 to $16.50.

Flutes is making more changes as well, according to assistant manager and sommelier Gaston Zampieri. The wine list is being revised, and there's a serious search on for sparkling wines from Virginia, Maryland and New York. Champagne prices are also in flux. As Zampieri put it, "We are completely changed a little bit."


The Westin Hotel's Colonnade Restaurant is not slashing its champagne prices, it's slashing the champagne itself. This Sunday the brunch buffet will feature Moet-Hennessy's Robert Gourdin doing his famous champagne show, which starts with the 4 1/2-hour construction of a pyramid of glasses -- $40-per-piece Bayle and Baccarat crystal, no less. At show time Gourdin severs the tops of the champagne bottles with an antique saber, then pours the champagne over the top of the pyramid to cascade into all 700 glasses. The brunch is good, too: $39.95 with unlimited Dom Perignon, $25.95 with Chandon Napa Valley Brut, $21.95 with no champagne. The saberings of the Dom Perignon are at noon and 2.


This year's award for tastelessness goes to the Sign of the Whale (west), which held a happy-hour party in August with such prizes as $1 drinks for customers who showed official parking tickets, public-nuisance or drunk-in-public citations -- and two $1 drinks for those who showed tickets for driving while intoxicated. Is that so they can better afford to pay their fines? I can't wait to hear what it would offer for the most outrageous fake IDs of underage drinkers.


Primi Piatti's policy of neither taking reservations after 7 nor seating parties until all have arrived has been under fire from the beginning, but no complaint I heard was more vociferous than one in which a party of three couldn't be seated until its fourth member arrived, and the group wasn't even sure she was coming. As they pointed out, a table for four is the same as a table for three; and finally they changed their request to a table for three. What happened next hasn't been sorted out, but certainly it was a dispute. In any case, chef Roberto Donna now reports that the policy has been changed and that the first arrival may be seated to wait for the rest of the party. "We changed it because it was not too comfortable," explained Donna. The restaurant had come to realize, "It's a risk you have to take when you open the doors."