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Strike Zone 

The East Fourth district bets on bowling.

Downtown's much-anticipated East Fourth Street "entertainment district" rolls one frame closer to completion on December 7, with the 8 p.m. opening of The Corner Alley (402 Euclid Avenue) and its associated restaurant, The 4th Street Bar & Grill.

A joint venture of California's Trifecta Management Group and downtown developer MRN Ltd., the 20,000-square-foot project will feature 16 lanes, a swanky "Millionaire's Row" VIP room, and what developers promise will be a "rock and roll party" vibe -- complete with loud music, flat-screen TVs, and black lights.

Central to the project is the 4th Street Bar & Grill, the Alley's 100-seat restaurant. Native Clevelander Todd DiCillo has been tapped as executive chef and, in consultation with nationally recognized chef, consultant, and educator Will Greenwood, has been busy cooking up lunch and dinner menus featuring what he calls "American cuisine with a Californian twist."

That includes the usual burgers, fries, and bar noshes (a "huge" martini bar is a big part of the concept), but DiCillo seems most stirred up by the prospect of his Kansas City short ribs, which he plans to serve with garlic smashed potatoes and a fresh seasonal veggie. "We marinate them in beer and barbecue sauce for eight hours, then cook them until they're fork-tender. There's nothing else like 'em in town!" According to DiCillo, dinner for two, sans booze, should average around $50. "We hope people come in, roll a few frames, have something to eat and drink, and then kick back."

Other businesses operating on this short stretch of East Fourth, between Prospect and Euclid, include Lola, House of Blues, Pickwick & Frolic, and Flannery's Pub, which Trifecta began managing in August 2005.

Death of a Classic . . . In another blow to Cleveland's always tentative fine-dining scene, the InterContinental Hotel (9801 Carnegie Avenue) announced last week that its critically acclaimed restaurant, Classics, will close on December 16. In its place, the hotel will launch Table 45, a more casual, less expensive 130-seat dining room; Tremont chef-restaurateur Zach Bruell, of Parallax, will serve as consultant for the new restaurant, which is expected to open in spring. A hotel spokesman denies that the elegant, expensive Classics, winner of AAA's Five Diamond rating, had become unprofitable, but crowds had clearly dropped off since its 2003 opening. "Times change," says Mike Reich. "And you gotta change with them."

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