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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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