Red, a Steakhouse / Opening: November 4
For two locations that could be no more different from one another in terms of neighborhood and style of building, Red Beachwood and Red Downtown look and feel remarkably similar. Of course, that's by no means a happy accident, says chef Jonathan Bennett.
"If you take Beachwood and flip it on itself, that's downtown," he says. "It's pretty identical, all the way down to the booths and seating, plateware, recipes and menu."
Like the suburban location, the space is divided in half, with the bar and lounge on one side and the dining room on the other. Apart from a handful of additional tables in the dining room, the downtown space feels remarkably familiar.
"We have a great formula in Beachwood, and people love that formula," adds Bennett, who along with principals Brad Friedlander, Peter Vauthy and Jon Gross also operate restaurants in Florida. "Other than geography, we didn't want to give diners a reason to pick one restaurant over the other."
Due to open last spring, Red finally will open this week in the Volk's building, a two-story property on Prospect Avenue just east of Chinato. The polished space features the now-familiar design on display in both the Beachwood and South Beach locations of Red. Stacked ledge stone, glimmering red glass and deeply weathered steel form the building blocks of the space, bolstered by wood floors, black leather booths and a shiny black granite bartop.
The one main difference between the two NEO locations is a second floor in the downtown space, which boasts a meeting room and party room for another 160 guests. In spring, a rooftop space will cater to another 100 guests.
Chef de cuisine Michael Polosa will oversee the 85-item a la carte menu that deftly blends some of the city's best steaks and chops with seafood and pasta. The lengthy construction delays coupled with the fact that the new Red has a fully operating sister just 10 miles up the road means that little has been left to chance.
"We have a great opportunity here to let the staff experience what Red is supposed to feel like," Bennett explains. "It should be a nice, smooth opening."
It's been 16 years since Moxie opened in Beachwood. As for why it's taken this long for the restaurant group to plant a flag downtown, Bennett admits that, "When you're dropping $2 million in a hole, you don't want to be wrong. But there's nothing better than the feel of a downtown restaurant. The lights outside, the activity on East Fourth Street. It feels so good that Cleveland has gotten and is getting the recognition it deserves."
EDWINS Restaurant / Opening: November 1
"This is 10 years in the making," says Brandon Chrostowski. "I'm just ready and excited to open."
Equal parts upscale French restaurant and learning academy for previously incarcerated individuals reentering society, EDWINS seeks to go where no similarly themed reentry program has gone before.
"There's a history to this type of program but nobody has tried it at this level because they don't think it's possible," explains Chrostowski, who carries the title of founder and GM. "Most keep the students back in the kitchen."
For weeks now, this current class of students has been receiving intensive training in not only food preparation, food service and hospitality, but also personal finance, housing and medical assistance. By the time they graduate in six months, each will have touched every aspect of the restaurant, from pastry and garde manger to host and server.
"The goal is to give these people a second chance, to build their confidence, and help make them a better person," adds Chrostowski. "But also to help plug the labor gap in this city for hospitality positions."
The former Grotto space at Shaker Square has been warmed up considerably, giving it a soft Parisian feel. While billed as a "white tablecloth restaurant," EDWINS is by no means meant to come across as a stiff French bistro. Servers will dress in crisp blue jeans, a dark tuxedo vest and lavender dress shirt.
Chef Gilbert Brenot, a native of France, has cooked all over the world and Cleveland, most recently as chef and owner of Maxi's in Little Italy for the past 13 years. His experience in both traditional and nouvelle French cuisine will serve him well when preparing both classic and contemporary French dishes like salade Niçoise, frog legs with garlic butter, steak tartar, braised rabbit and steak au poivre. A rolling cheese cart will offer a choice of dozens of fine artisan selections.
EDWINS will be open for dinner Monday through Saturday, with lunch service being added down the road.
The Rail / Opening: Early December
While burger fans in the Cleveland area have grown accustomed to Michael Symon's B Spot and Shawn Monday's Flip Side, it won't be long until Mike Mariola's The Rail becomes equally familiar.
By early December, the chef and restaurateur's second Rail location will open in North Olmsted at the newly renovated Great Northern Mall. The first Rail opened a couple years back at Akron's Summit Mall. And a third is slated to open in Canton this coming spring.
While slightly larger than the Akron shop at 140 seats thanks to a mezzanine, the North Olmstead spot will feature the same "stockyard chic" décor, with butcher shop-style white subway tile walls and a lengthy metal rail adorned with meat hooks. A custom-built beer tower with 24 taps will dispense only Ohio-brewed beers.
Whereas Symon's B Spot dispenses six-ounce patties custom-blended by New York's Pat LaFrieda, and Monday's Flip Side cooks up seven ounces of grass-fed Ohio beef, Mariola's The Rail offers eight ounces of all-Ohio beef, much of which is grass-fed. The Rail, however, is the only spot to grill its burgers over an open flame, giving the patties a boost in the flavor department.
Those differences are precisely why Mariola has few concerns over the so-called burger saturation taking place in the local marketplace.
"Burgers are such a popular concept, and everyone has their own twist on the burger restaurant," Mariola says. "It's fun to go out and try different style burgers from different chefs."
In addition to The Rail concepts, Mariola owns City Square Steakhouse in Wooster. He sold South Market Bistro, his first restaurant.
As for just how big The Rail might become, the chef says, "We want to keep growing the Rail brand regionally, but we want to pace ourselves. I want to make sure that each new restaurant is as excellent as the last one."
A Tavola / Opening: January 2014
Construction officially has begun in the former Piccadilly Fine Art Gallery next door to Dante. When completed by early next year, the space will open as A Tavola (ah-TA-voh-la), chef Dante Boccuzzi's fifth restaurant. He also operates Ginko, DC Pasta and DBA in Akron.
Primarily a lunch and weekend brunch spot, the restaurant also will provide some much needed private dining and overflow space for the ever-busy Dante restaurant next door, which will be physically connected. "I'm turning down so many weddings and private parties on weekend nights because I can't accommodate them," Boccuzzi explains.
A Tavalo, which is what Italian mothers scream to their kids when it's time to come to the dinner table, will feature refurbished wood floors, exposed brick walls, tin ceilings and bespoke iron work. "I want it to feel old and rustic," says the chef.
Two wood-burning ovens will be built into the side of the building, with one used for traditional and contemporary Neapolitan-style pizzas and the other for wood-fired entrees like roast chicken and baked pasta. Following the winning formula of DC Pasta, A Tavola will specialize in homemade pastas and hearty Italian classics. On Saturday and Sunday, the restaurant will go "brunch," offering a mix of Italian and American breakfast dishes.
Small 5-inch and larger 12-inch pizzas will be sold for eat-in or carryout, but Boccuzzi also is toying with the idea of a cart that sells pizza by the inch, which is cut to order off a lengthy pie. He also intends to launch a late night pizza program.
Chef Jay Plourde, with whom Boccuzzi worked in San Francisco, will head up the kitchen.
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