A fire swept through Michael's Pizza, an Italian Kitchen Wednesday, gutting the interior of the restaurant and closing it for at least a month.

No one was hurt in the incident, which occurred early Wednesday morning, owner Michael Evans said. It appears the fire started in the kitchen by a prep table compressor. It was a total loss. He said he was unaware of the incident until he walked up to the store around 10:30 a.m. That's when he saw the fire trucks.

"I didn't even know it was my place until I got right there," he said.

Open five years, business has been good at the 45-seat eatery in Uptown Westerville, Evans said. One of its more popular pies is Michael's Traditional - which uses spiced pepperoni, sweet onions and home-pressed
sausage. The restaurant, 15 E. College Ave., made news in 2006 when it became the first establishment in the historic Westerville district, once home to the Anti-Saloon League, to legally pour a beer since 1875.

He said the remodeling effort will include some modernization but "nothing drastic."

Look for updates on construction at www.pizzamike.com.

Evans said he's been touched by the outpouring of help and kind words since the fire.

"I want to thank people for helping out and being so nice and hopefully we'll see them soon," he said.

When life hands you chili peppers, make salsa.

That pretty much sums up the summer for Juan Morales, owner of Cuco's on the Northwest Side. Friends and customers routinely would bring in their jalapeno, habanero and Serrano peppers from home gardens.

What to do with the bounty?

Morales' experimentation with the chilis led him to three distinct salsas - red chile, habanero and green Serrano - that he now puts on the tables at his Mexican restaurant, 2162 Henderson Road. His goal is to start
bottling and selling the fresh salsas wholesale by the end of the year.

He's already had requests for more cases. He's also working on additional recipes, such as the red Sabina and barbecue sauces.

Funny thing about the hotter salsas, the Americans are craving them, especially the habanero, the hottest of the bunch.

"I was very impressed how many people had a taste for that," he said. "It's very hot."

The opening of the newest Global Gallery is a big deal for world-conscious foodies. The Clintonville store, the fourth locally, has a 30-seat caf that serves fair trade, organic coffee. Also, the caf offers a soup of the day as part of the Women's Bean Project, a program that teaches job skills to the disadvantaged.

In addition, the handcrafts' gallery, 3535 N. High St., uses neighborhood sources, such as the Clintonville Community Market and Pattycake Vegan Bakery.

It is open daily for early morning through the evening daily. For more information, call 614-262-5535.