Strings Urban Kitchen opening Friday at Capitol Towers

Strings Italian Cafe has offered pasta, pizza and other casual fare around Northern California since 1999. But a more grown-and-sexy version of this franchise debuts Friday with Strings Urban Kitchen. The eatery is housed on the ground floor of the Capitol Towers (1500 7th St., Sacramento) and operated by the ownership group behind the local urban winery Rail Bridge Cellars.

That’s to say this isn’t the same old Strings. This new venture will feature a full bar program with house cocktails, a retail wine shop and expanded menu that includes steamed mussels and other fresh seafood, rib-eye steak, grilled sandwiches and an expanded line of pizzas.

“We’re thinking of it as ‘Strings 2.0,’ ” said Michael Gelber, a managing partner with Strings Urban Kitchen. “If you go into Strings now, they have unlimited bread and salad. This doesn’t have that. We have some of the Strings classics but brought everything up a notch in terms of the product quality.”

Michael Chandler, a longtime Sacramento sommelier and fellow partner in Rail Bridge Cellars, has compiled a wine list that emphasizes Italian varietals while also carrying South American brands and such familiar California vintners as Ridge and Duckhorn. Bottles on the restaurant’s wine list can be purchased from the retail shop, at a price of $10 below the restaurant pricing.

The cocktail program was designed by Joe Anthony Savala, former beverage manager of Zocalo, with signature drinks named after Rat Pack members (i.e. the “Frank Sinatra” with rye whiskey, vermouth and Campari; a vodka cooler called the “Dean Martin”).

If the name “Strings Urban Kitchen” is too much of a mouthful, the proprietors suggest using the acronym “SUK” - really. Their logo features prominent “SUK” lettering accompanied by a twisty forkful of pasta.

“We know the acronym is funny and we want to own it,” said Gelber. “We felt if we didn’t, someone else would run with it. It also ties into the fork with the pasta, like how you’d hear the term, ‘Suck it up.’”

Gelber and company are meanwhile banking on traffic from nearby offices, plus Capitol Towers and other nearby residents to provide plenty of business for SUK. He said a series of soft openings were a hit with the neighbors.

“There’s 4,000 tp 5,000 residents within a four to five block radius - but no place within walking distance to grab food and drink,” said Gelber.

Strings Urban Kitchen will be open at 11 a.m. daily starting Friday. For more information: