AN EMPIRE OF EATERIES

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Spago: Chef Wolfgang Puck's first restaurant opened in 1982 on a shoestring budget. Spago actually means "string" in Italian, sometimes spaghetti. Spago elevated pizza to gourmet status and made casual dining trendy. Overlooking Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, it's known to attract movie stars. The restaurant's interior an airy, beach-house look," says Puck - was designed by Barbara Lazaroff, Puck's wife and partner. Spago celebrates its 10th year Jan. 13.

Chinois on Main: Puck's second restaurant opened in 1983 in Santa Monica, Calif. The fare is French- and Asian-inspired.

Postrio: Located off Union Square in San Francisco, Postrio is overseen by former Spago chefs Anne and David Gingrass. It has Italian and Asian leanings. "I don't go too often to San Francisco," says Puck, "and it's our biggest restaurant." When Annie and David want to change something, he continues, "they call me up and say 'What do you think about that?' And I say, 'Most important thing is that it taste really good, and if it's not too off-the-wall or if it makes sense to me, try it out.

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Eureka Restaurant and

Brewery: Opened in 1990 in West Los Angeles, Eureka offers varied cuisine, including Puck's famous pizzas and sausage.

Granita: Opened last year in Malibu, Calif. "Granita" refers to an Italian frozen dessert, specifically a flavored shaved ice. The restaurant has a Mediterranean emphasis and serves a lot of seafood. The interior, designed by Barbara Lazaroff, has a soft ocean theme complete with two giant aquariums.

Spago Las Vegas: A Spago-type restaurant will open later this year at Caesar's Forum. "That's the last one," Puck says.

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