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Perfect Timing

411 West

Perhaps Chapel Hill's finest bistro, 411 West is one of Franklin Street's most popular restaurants. With a typically posh crowd of area aesthetes and an airy Mediterranean decorative motif, 411 West impresses on and off the dinner plate.

Like its Raleigh counterpart, 518 West, 411 serves a host of Italian and new American dishes, from whole wheat fettucine to wood-grilled shrimp polenta. Their starters are almost uniformly scrumptious, though the seafood gratinee skimps on scallops. The wood-fired focaccia is standard but undeniably good, and 411's patented "citrus ade" is a refreshing blend of lemon, lime and orange.

Entrees at 411 are rich and hearty, though not without flavor or creative presentation. The chicken parmigiana, served on a thick bed of angel-hair pasta, is tender and tasty, and the house marinara is just sweet enough to complement it. The beef tenderloin melts in the mouth, and the mashed potato side is smooth and creamy. To cleanse the palate, the vanilla bean cr?me brulZe leaves a definite afterglow.

Always packed during dinner hours, 411 delivers excellent service, distinctive cuisine and a pleasant atmosphere for conversation, though the bar area gets noisy when reservations pile up. With full meals under $25, this trendy hot spot is perfect for a nice date or a weekend out with friends.

By Tim Perzyk

Peppers

So you're on Franklin Street, staring down the hordes of high-priced eateries that offer you little bang for your buck. You're also not in the mood to have a processed sub or bagel sandwich. Eat pizza, Pepper's Pizza, conveniently located at 127 East Franklin St.

The allure of Peppers is not its ambiance. A cross between a Goth party and a Happy Days diner, it's a wonder that the restaurant attracts a mixture of both students and adults (including faculty--I noticed one distinguished UNC prof. ordering a very complicated slice of pie). The diverse crowd proves that the purpose of perusing Peppers is the pizza (and the price). Design-it-yourself slices start at $1.50. For an additional $.50 you can add as many toppings as you want from their extensive list of offerings. Warning: Ordering more than three toppings may make your piece soggy.

I tried a slice of feta cheese and bacon, and another with basil and sausage--both turned out well. There are other dishes on the menu, but none of them are nearly as delicious (or fast) as a slice of pie.

The only drawback to Peppers is the sometimes-abrasive staff. While they won't yell at you for ordering the "wrong" toppings, some of the employees are downright hostile, especially at the register.

In all, Peppers is the best place to get pizza in Chapel Hill, and since it's a fast meal, you won't have to worry about missing that last (and way too early) Robertson Scholars' bus. Grab a slice to go!

By Martin Barna

Morehead Planetarium

We all know Franklin Street houses a multitude of trendy bars, restaurants and clothing boutiques. But a NASA astronaut training facility seems a little out of place even for this eclectic area.The Morehead Planetarium is not only the drop-off point of the Robertson bus, but it also houses also one of the largest planetariums in the U.S. While the planetarium does have frequent public shows, stars aren't the only thing to see in Morehead's state of the art Star Theater--it also hosts educational programs and guest lectures.

This Tuesday, September 11, former shuttle astronaut Bill Thornton will be talking about his experiences and use of Morehead planetarium for NASA programs.

Morehead also houses a 24-inch Cassegrain reflecting telescope and several classrooms where enrichment classes are taught for kids of all ages throughout the year. The public shows--with titles such as "Solar System Adventure," "Supernova" and "Sky Rambles"--run at 7:30pm and 8:30pm Wednesday through Saturday nights, with additional shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Tickets are only $3.50 for students and go on sale 30 minutes before the show.

By Beth Iams

Uniquities

After spending a few weeks in Durham, most girls realize that the shopping just isn't so hot and leave their fashion to fall break, catalogs or long trips to Raleigh. But fear not, there is a great store on Franklin Street that carries clothes for the women of our generation.

Uniquities has everything from denim to formal wear plus everything in between. Though some of their items are a bit pricey, Uniquities also features very affordable t-shirts from 3 Dots, Juicy Couture and Michael Stars. Though you may be paying a bit more than in the Gap, these shirts will last five years to the one you'll get from Gap.

The store also carries Diesel, Earl and Paper Denim jeans. Uniquities boasts great casual clothes--they have brands like Theory, Susanna Monaco and Rebecca Taylor. For pants, Uniquities carries Katayone Adeli, the best fitting ones around, both for everyday and for dressier occasions.

Uniquities offers a range of styles for almost every body and budget. It's nearly impossible to walk into the store without finding an object of desire. The staff is incredibly helpful but not overwhelming, never pressuring a customer for a sale. Uniquities is worth a stop while in Chapel Hill for an afternoon.

By Cary Hughes

Sephora

Who knew Nieman's cosmetics counters were cloned and shipped to UNC? Smack in the middle of Franklin Street lies a brow-plucking, lip-shining experience. It's Sephora, the Parisian beauty warehouse that has every brand from Dolce & Gabbana to Urban Decay. A Mecca for makeup hogs, Sephora is laid out like a supermodel supermarket--an aisle is devoted to each brand of greasepaint, and baskets brim with ultra-sharp tweezers, extra-fine scissors blades and ultra-soft brushes for every part of your face. Duke girls should opt for Stila's light and luminescent eye gloss and lip glaze, BlissLabs' sheer blush and Hard Candy's sonic shimmers. All are designed to accent facial features without distracting from the natural lines of the face. Because of all the inbreeding, UNC girls need more makeup--we suggest BeneFit play sticks to cover up any scales or fur patches, Anna Sui hot pink blush to make them look less trashy and Lorac lipsticks, which are thick enough to mask even the toughest of cold sores.

By Faran Krentcil

Playmakers

If you can swallow your pride and admit that UNC has some great facilities and really talented people, head on over to the historic PlayMakers Theater. The mammoth red building decked out with Corinthian columns is home base to PlayMakers Repertory Company. This professional drama group houses its own graduate acting program and resident acting company. For their efforts, PlayMakers Rep. has garnered a slew of awards from both local and national arts organizations. Under the helm of artistic director David Hammond, they have tackled such modern classics as Master Harold and the Boys and True West. They also conduct a summer outreach program--which had notable success with 2001's All's Well That Ends Well--that spreads Shakespeare across Chapel Hill. Starting on October 17, you can see PlayMakers Rep. in action performing The Laramie Project, a piece dedicated to the aftermath of Matthew Shepard's brutal murder.

Another option for theatergoers at UNC is The Lab!, a student run drama group that produces everything from Shakespeare to Stoppard. Their season kicks off on September 28, with the avant-garde Sedakaville, and also includes some staples of 20th century drama. Leave your Duke shirt at home and reserve some seats--when Duke Players or Hoof ON' Horn are getting you down, there's always a fresh slew of theater options waiting for you just down 15-501.

By Faran Krentcil

Skylight Exchange

Sometimes bad things happen for a good reason. All day I had anticipated my evening adventure on the Robertson Scholars bus to the Silk Road Teahouse on Franklin Street, not knowing that the funky tea mecca is closed Mondays. I was ready to turn around and walk back to the bus stop when a wise man suggested an alternative: Skylight Exchange. After stopping in two restaurants and a gas station to ask for directions, we finally found this hidden gem on Rosemary Street, one block north of Franklin Street.

Like Silk Road, the Skylight Exchange--a cafZ/used book and record store featuring live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night--really is an "alternative" to the mundane coffee shop. After one visit, I fell so in love with this place that I was reluctant to share the secret. Not only is Skylight a great place to read and listen to music (Mondays and Wednesdays are open mic nights), but it boasts a menu of 53 mouthwatering sandwiches, not to mention salads and desserts. We tried the African tuna melt--a curry tuna salad with melted Swiss on wheat bread--and the "Animal Farm," a double-decker club with roast beef, turkey and provolone. Both were so delicious that they almost redefine the often boring sandwich.

For dessert, don't miss "The Ecstacy," which tastes exactly like it sounds. It's an enormous warm cookie topped with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream and drenched on all sides by chocolate sauce. I could have spent hours at Skylight, flipping through the wide assortment of books, taking my turn at the open mic, chatting with the friendly staff and refilling my coffee cup for 47 cents (the first refill is free). Too bad I had to catch the 11 o'clock bus back to Durham.

By Victoria Kaplan

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