SHIFTING GEARS: Though Mark Giuricich says he had been telling his regular customers that changes were in store for Kuna (1324 U St. NW) since August, it still came as a surprise to plenty of patrons to hear that the cozy Italian restaurant ceased serving pasta and pork chops on the last weekend in October.

That's the unfortunate news. The silver lining in this particular cloud: Giuricich is staging a comeback at the same address, possibly as early this Saturday night, but with a different name and a fresh twist. Opera (202-797-0523) will take its inspiration from "an enoteca [wine bar] in Florence, a snack bar in Paris, a dive bar in San Francisco and my favorite restaurant in Washington, D.C.," the restaurateur revealed via e-mail. Which ones, we wondered? "I keep them all a closely guarded secret," Giuricich responded.

"Like Kuna, Opera will be a restaurant that I want to dine at," candle-lit and intimate, the chef continued. "Unlike Kuna, most of Opera's tables will have tablecloths and cloth napkins. A carpet will cover the ceramic tile floor, and the walls, once the color of chocolate, have been painted moss green. In keeping with its name, the new restaurant will play opera as well as jazz.

Though the menu has yet to be finalized, Giuricich shared a working script, and it's heavy on salads and sandwiches. No ordinary notions, they include warm goose breast on rye bread with curried coleslaw, shrimp salad Louis with caviar, creamed mushrooms on toast with smoked beef tongue and beef "sashimi" with a truffled potato salad. The prices reflect the adjective-rich descriptions: The dishes will range from $16-$24.