Dating back to the famed White House restaurant in Mentor, which closed after 20 years in the late-‘80s, the name Carl Quagliata has always signaled quality food and quality service. Of course, Quagliata’s most notable successes are the game-changing Piccolo Mondo and the enduring Giovanni's Ristorante, still going strong in Beachwood after 40 years.
So when you hear that Quagliata has plans to open a new restaurant, you shut your mouth and listen. And when those plans include the word “barbecue,” you politely scratch your head and then listen some more.
While it might sound completely out of left field that the guy who essentially birthed fine-dining in Cleveland – much of it fueled by Italian cuisine – is picking up the black arts of barbecue, it begins to make more sense after talking to his chef of six years, Zachary Ladner.
“I grew up in Texas and Tex-Mex and barbecue are the foods I grew up eating and I love,” says the executive chef of Giovanni’s. “Carl and I have been talking about wanting to do another venture and we didn’t want to do something that was fine dining. The trend in dining is definitely not towards fancy tableside service.”
In addition to growing up eating barbecue, Ladner says that he worked in a restaurant that relied heavily on smoked meats. It’s a food he not only loves to eat but also loves to cook. Like many local fans of barbecue, Ladner sees an undeniable void in the marketplace, one he hopes to help fill.
“It’s a regional thing; independent restaurants are opened by people who have a passion for one thing or another,” he says. “If you grow up in a region where barbecue isn’t a thing you grew up eating that’s probably not the kind of restaurant you’re going to open.”
As a Texan, Ladner will certainly smoke beef, but he also recognizes our Midwestern love of pork, so that will find a place on the menu as well. Both, he hopes, will come from local farms. All will be smoked using real wood, he promises. In addition to the smoked meats and sides, the as yet unnamed eatery will offer some lighter dishes as well.
“Given our background [at Giovanni’s] we’ll also try and introduce some nice composed salads and such so that they might appeal to a wider range of people during lunch,” he adds. “You want to make your customers happy.”
The undisclosed eastside location will seat about 80 inside plus another 40-50 on the patio.
“When Carl saw this opportunity and location it seemed like a good fit for that area, which has a lot of lunch business and residential.”
The team is shooting for a springtime opening.