There's nothing more liberating than starting over in a new place with a new name, until you accidentally get your face in the local paper, and next thing you know you're breaking necks in front of your kid, which is actually fine because him thinking you were a nerd was getting annoying -- god it feels good to kill again. Starting anew less violently, the restaurant now known as La Carreta Argentina
Grand-opening Saturday, LCA's a next-level incarnation of Don Panza, a shuttered Argentine resto in Clarendon whose name got it frequently mistaken for a Mexican place; in a refurbished house equipped with an L-shaped, downtown-facing patio, the new spot's cozily wooded interior features a wavy stone-topped bar, a ceiling-mounted wagon wheel, and a mannequin wearing a showy gaucho outfit -- not as hot as Kim Cattrall, but then again he wouldn't talk about having sex with dudes 1/3 his age. Executed by the husband-wife owners (he's Mexican, she's Argentine -- they met as Sterling Hotel co-workers), the broadened traditional menu kicks off with starters like tartas (ham & cheese pie), chimichurri'd veal-stuffed house-baked rolls, and a ham/Swiss/bleu cheese cake roll, plus 11 baked-or-fried empanadas packed with the likes of spinach, ham, spicy beef, and hard-boiled eggs, too many of which'll make you chow-yun fat. Mains include large ricotta-packed ravioli with Argentine sausage, heart-healthy sandwiches (the "Lomito": ham/thin steak/Swiss, w/ fried eggs & from-scratch mayo), and the 14oz "Churrasco" steak; there's also mozzarella'd Argentine pizza with toppings like ham, skirt steak, hearts of palm, and...more fried eggs -- so if you're wondering why you put fried eggs on everything, it's because your mom took a trip to Buenos Aires 9 months before you were born
LCA's presently BYOB, but by June it should be slinging 4 taps, 7 bottles (including Quilmes) as well as mostly on-theme wines; currently served off-menu is mate, South American tea that's supposed to nourish both body and soul -- nerd out with that for a while, but eventually you'll be saying "god it feels good to drink again".