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April 8, 2013

Downtown Salem sees restaurant shake-up

SALEM — The restaurant and food scene in downtown Salem has gone through almost as many changes this winter as the Red Sox lineup.

Some of the regulars are gone, like Green Land Cafe, Cafe Polonia and Ben & Jerry’s. But when one place disappears, it seems something new pops up to take its place.

“There’s still a lot of interest in coming here,” said Rinus Oosthoek, executive director of the Salem Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to new restaurants replacing old ones, there are also entirely new ventures. One of those is Melita Fiore Patisserie, a pastry shop that will open in early May a few doors down from City Hall.

“I thought we needed a pastry shop here,” said Fiore, who trained with Delphin Gomes, the master French pastry chef from Marblehead.

“He is actually helping me open up over here,” she said. “It’s going to be very classic French-style pastries.”

She will open next to Opus, the much-buzzed-about Washington Street restaurant that is taking Green Land’s old spot.

Opus is the latest and grandest — as in magnum opus — venture by the Serenitee Restaurant Group, which owns Latitude 43 in Gloucester, 15 Walnut in Hamilton and Hale Street Tavern in Beverly.

Opus, set to open in mid-June, will have a large oval bar, kitchens upstairs and downstairs, an art gallery, an “eclectic modern cuisine,” and seating for more than 100.

It will be something Salem hasn’t seen before, a Serenitee official said.

“There is for me, and for the people on this project, just this palpable sense this is something big,” owner Mark McDonough said.

Over in Lappin Square, the former general manager and executive chef from Coda, a bistro in Boston’s South End, are about to open Naumkeag Ordinary just a few doors down from Gulu-Gulu Cafe.

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