PIPING HOT NEWS: The folks behind Buck's Fishing & Camping (5031 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-364-0777) have their hands on the vacant space next door -- the former Thai Room -- and their eyes on turning it into "a family-friendly pizza parlor with a Ping-Pong theme," says Buck's owner James Alefantis. "Who doesn't love pizza? Who doesn't love Ping-Pong?" the restaurateur says in explaining why he and Buck's chef Carole Greenwood are adding to their plates. The restaurant will seat about 70 people and include two rooms, one with a Ping-Pong table; the menu will be basic, "just pizza, a few salads and ice cream," plus a full bar, according to Alefantis. What style of pizza, we wondered? "Neo-Neapolitan" -- crisp, thin-crusted pies, covered (or not) with sauce as opposed to crushed tomatoes, he says, something similar to what you'd find in New York and New Haven, Conn. Alefantis is less sure of a name or a due date. "September, October, November or maybe New Year's," he says. "But hopefully October."
WHERE BIGGER IS CHEESIER: Devotees of the "soul roll," "two step chili" and crusty pork ribs at Urban Bar-B-Que Company (2007 Chapman Ave., Rockville; 240-290-4827) are going to have to wait three weeks or so to sample those goods. That's how long the owners of the shoebox-size eatery expect their long-planned expansion work to last. "We're going from nine to 40," says David Calkins, referring to the forthcoming increase in seating. The tables will run down the right side of the large back kitchen, separated by a four-foot-high glass partition, which the co-owner jokingly likens to that of a hockey rink. The mini-makeover will be accompanied by the addition of beer and wine to the menu, though the changes should not be perceived as beautification. "We're trying to stay true to our concept," explains Calkins, which means "we're trying to be as cheesy as possible." Returning patrons will find Pabst, Schlitz and Old Milwaukee beers, the restaurateur says, and "the city's largest wine cooler list." With an expected reopening date of Aug. 1, Urban Bar-B-Que will remain "self-service -- and hopefully, self-cleaning."