HE'S IN, HE'S OUT: Just three weeks after he helped launch the whimsical Zengo (781 Seventh St. NW; 202-393-2929) in Penn Quarter, head chef Alan Yu is taking time off for personal reasons, says Richard Sandoval, co-owner of the new fusion restaurant with Washington National Opera's Placido Domingo.
The unexpected departure means that Sandoval, who owns six other establishments around the United States and is based in New York, will take charge of the Asian-Latin kitchen, which he originally intended to visit every other week or so after its first few months. Sandoval is looking at the cup as half full: "This gives me the opportunity to be in the kitchen full time," says the entrepreneur. "My first love is cooking." For support, he's called in Graham Bartlett from Denver, the former sous-chef at the Zengo in that city. No word on when, or if, Yu, an alumnus of Michel Richard Citronelle, plans to return to the stove; Sandoval refers to his stint here as "indefinite." Zengo plans to open for lunch service on Monday
INCENDIARY NEWS: The folks behind Clarendon's popular Boulevard Woodgrill (2901 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-875-9663) just purchased the shuttered Ecco Cafe in Alexandria, which they plan to renovate and relaunch as Overwood (220 N. Lee St.) in the spring. The modern American restaurant will offer seating for more than 150 and specialize in "cooking over wood," says co-owner Ryan Duncan. Think flatbread, steak, fish -- but not tourists. "Our location off the main drag suits us," the restaurateur says. "We want to serve the locals in Old Town." In selecting a name for their new place, the owners wanted to avoid the problems they've endured with Boulevard Woodgrill: even longtime regulars erroneously refer to the hot spot as The Boulevard or Woodside. "It's a mouthful," laments Duncan, who hopes Overwood isn't.