A steakhouse for Nanne

One of the most recognized names in Minnesota sports history is going to be lighting up a restaurant marquee on a busy stretch of France Avenue S. in Edina. And it's not a sports bar.

Lou Nanne's steakhouse will take over the closing-soon Romano's Macaroni Grill (7651 France Av. S.) spot in the Centennial Lakes Office Park complex.

"This is probably the best location I've ever had," said co-owner Michael McDermott of the McDermott Restaurant Group, which operates Rojo Mexican Grill (1602 West End Blvd., St. Louis Park, and Southdale Center, Edina, rojomexicangrill.com), Shag (730 Washington Av. N., Mpls., shagsushi.­com) and Ling & Louie's (921 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., lingandlouies.com).

McDermott has wisely tapped Josh Hill, who has been executive chef at Manny's Steakhouse (825 Marquette Av. S., Mpls., mannyssteakhouse.com) for the past seven years, to run the Lou Nanne's kitchen. Hill is also a Cosmos and Red Stag Supperclub vet.

"I've learned a lot from Parasole," said Hill, referring to Manny's parent company. "And now it's time to take what I've learned and apply it to a new opportunity."

It's early in the menu-planning process, but Hill is expecting to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, catering to the neighborhood's large hotel and office populations.

"It's going to be a steakhouse, but more accessible," said Hill. "We'll have a really good beef program — we'll offer a product that'll be exclusive to that part of town — and we'll offer fresh seafood."

Nanne is, of course, the U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer, former Minnesota North Stars player, coach and general manager. He said he has been approached by restaurateurs for decades, but always turned them down. Until now.

"It was always the same, a sports bar," he said. "Never anything unique. But all the dynamics here, they're just perfect."

Nanne has an ownership stake in the business, but a less defined day-to-day role. "I expect I'll spend a lot of time there," he said, referring to himself as the "No. 1 taster." In that capacity, he is insisting on one menu item: a bucatini Bolognese, based on his wife's recipe.

Cuningham Group, the Minneapolis architectural firm, is designing the building's refurbishment. McDermott said he's aiming for a February 2016 opening.

McDermott is also converting the Rosedale location of Romano's Macaroni Grill (the company is exiting Minnesota) to a Rojo Mexican Grill, with a targeted November opening.

Oysterfest returns

Tickets are on sale for one of the Twin Cities' most memorable street fairs, the fifth Oysterfest at Meritage (410 St. Peter St., St. Paul). Meet oyster farmers from Washington state, Massachusetts and Virginia, enjoy live music and root for your favorite chef contestant during the ever-popular oyster shucking contest. Classes, too.

Summit Brewing Co. will be back with its oyster stout, and the Meritage kitchen will prepare oyster po'boys, fried clams, lobster rolls, fried clams, burgers and crêpes. Past iterations have averaged 25,000 fresh oysters.

"That's shucking 3,125 oysters an hour, or 52 oysters a minute," said chef/co-owner Russell Klein.

The event runs from noon to dusk on Oct. 11. Tickets ($25 to $120) are at meritage-stp.com.

A Foreign Legion revamp

Meanwhile, Klein's Foreign Legion (105 S. 5th St., Mpls., ­foreignlegion-mpls.com) has undergone a transformation. The restaurant has expanded into a former storefront, opening up the once windowless dining room to the street (and sidewalk tables).

The dinner-only menu focuses on affordable pastas, pizzas and other accessible fare (wings, burgers, steak tartare, the exceptional ribs from the Meritage bar), aimed at residents in the apartments upstairs. "It's the sexiest pizza place you've ever seen," Klein said.

As for the restaurant's fabulous raclette, "it'll make seasonal appearances," Klein said. Phew.