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Restaurant notes: Horizons to close

A new direction for the vegan destination restaurant.

Jim and Kristina Burke are not the only couple deciding to close their fine-dining restaurant (South Philly's James) as they shift to a new concept in Center City.

Husband-wife team Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby are staying in the game. They are preparing to sign a lease for a new spot in Center City, as they want to, in their words, "take the next step."

Their new menu will be based on vegan cuisine that's all about beautifully prepared vegetables.

"We don't want to focus on proteins at the center of the plate," says Jacoby.

Landau says he will cook with tofu, of course, but he is on the fence about his future relationship with seitan. (People calling it "fake steak" make his blood boil.)

Landau first made his mark in 1994 with Horizons Cafe, a casual spot inside a Willow Grove health-food store. In their new location, they will assume a different identity.

The new owner of the two-story Horizons building will be a wood-fired pizzeria from Tom Grim and Stalin Bedon, who own the celebrated Nomad Pizza in Hopewell, N.J. No name yet; timeline calls for a September opening.

Grim, who founded and later sold the Princeton ice cream shop Thomas Sweet, started the pizza business several years ago out of Bedon's 1949 REO Speed Wagon, equipped with a wood-fired oven.

"I went to Italy and it was revelation," Grim told me. "I saw local farmers driving up and dropping off vegetables at the pizzerias. I said, Wow. You don't see that in the United States. You see the Sysco truck dropping off cans of stuff. That was such a stark difference. When I got back, I had to have a wood-fired oven in my kitchen. I'd have pizza parties, where I'd invite 50 friends over for pizza, salad, and beer."

Grim promises good beer and affordable wine, and a Stefano Ferrara oven from which they'll turn out pies.