Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Hip, in Theory 

Mojo gets a makeover, from menu to moniker.

Fans of the former Mojo will scarcely recognize the place when they step into Theory (2221 Professor Street, 216-621-2301), restaurateur Doug Petkovic's new, thoroughly remodeled dining room in Tremont. Gone is Mojo's cool, contemporary vibe, replaced with a warm, earthy Arts & Crafts-influenced decor, complete with quarter-sawn oak paneling, mica-shaded wall sconces, and Craftsman-style ceramic-tile detailing.

Petkovic describes the 62-seat Theory as a chef-driven "boutique" restaurant, with a menu that highlights the talents of Executive Chef Steve Fillis, a New Yorker who worked for legendary chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten for nearly seven years -- most recently at The Mercer Kitchen in SoHo. The 9 apps and 11 entrées on the concise "new American" menu range from an American Kobe beef burger with Maytag blue cheese ($15) to Jordan-almond-crusted duck breast with olive compote ($26). Dishes such as grilled salmon with Asian vermicelli and cardamom broth ($18), or pan-roasted strip steak with red-wine reduction and carrot foam ($24), point up the chef's propensity for tight, streamlined compositions, in which the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts. Of course, Petkovic puts it more succinctly. "It's intense. After 20 years in this business, all I can tell you is that this kid can really cook."

In addition to the intimate main dining room, there's a small private dining area in the space that once housed Mojo's short-lived carryout operation. The next phase of the ongoing renovation calls for transforming a small outdoor patio into an English Garden, for cocktail service. Then, Petkovic and company will turn their attention to the former "portico," which will be reworked into a 40-seat private dining room, with French doors overlooking the garden.

Sharp-eyed guests may spot a familiar face behind Theory's bar: Former chef Tim Bando, whose most recent culinary gig found him opening the kitchen at Mentor's Noosa, is now manning the martini shakers. Besides his culinary chops, turns out Bando is a skilled carpenter and, along with Tim Haas, owner of Decorative Artworks, is responsible for Theory's handsome cabinetry. "When we were finishing up the interior, I asked Doug if he needed a bartender --and now here I am, at least for a while," Bando says while stuffing anchovies into oversized olives. However, the main recipient of this Tim-of-all-trades' attention is his 14-acre garden in Geauga County, where he's raising produce for area chefs and farmers' markets.

Theory is open for dinner only, beginning at 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and at 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. We're betting reservations will prove essential.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 5, 2022

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Vegan Monday @ The Winchester

    • Mondays

© 2022 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation