With the 2017 holiday season on our doorstep, things have begun to hum a little louder in Riverside’s central business district.

Last week, La Barra Ristorante opened its doors to patrons at 2 E. Burlington St. in the corner commercial space of the Village Center development. The Italian restaurant features a selection of small plates and salads to share as well as pasta dishes, full entrees and burgers.

Of course, pizza is a signature dish of the restaurant, including both thin and pan pizza. In addition to dining in (seats have been hard to come by during the first week, so it may be best to make a reservation), the restaurant also delivers and accepts take-out orders.

It’s open for dinner Monday through Friday and for lunch and dinner on Saturday and Sunday.

Pop-up shops sprout downtown

While you’re waiting for a table at La Barra, from Nov. 25 through Dec. 3 a trio of Riverside businesses will be operating a pop-up shop from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends (with evening appointments) at 16 E. Burlington St., next to Shamrock Florist.

The businesses that are teaming up include Bridget Hoch and her Etcetera Fall and Winter Trunk Show of women’s clothes, Robin Mooney of Arcade Jewelers with a selection of vintage and contemporary jewelry and Karen Mitchell of Deck Those Dolls, which features hand-crafted holiday items.

The pop-up shop will host an open house reception on Saturday, Nov. 26 and will participate in the Riverside Chamber of Commerce’s Holiday Stroll on Dec. 2.

Meanwhile, across the tracks over at the Riverside train station, 90 Bloomingbank Road, Kate Coffey opened her Chocolate Twist pop-up shop on Nov. 21. 

The shop, which features an assortment of sweet treats, is located in the east wing of the station and is open weekday mornings from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. through the holiday season. Chocolate Twist will also be open during the Holiday Stroll.

Sawmilly eyes Dec. 5 open

Finally, Scott Zimmer, the owner of The Chew Chew in downtown Riverside has announced that he intends to open his long-awaited new venture, Sawmilly, on Dec. 5 at 35 E. Burlington St, next to his restaurant.

As of Nov. 21, no menu was available online but, according to its Facebook page, Sawmilly will specialize in serving “premium quality hand-carved sandwiches.”