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The Other Mojo Wasn't Working

Chef/restaurateur Michael Herschman has closed Mojo Risin', the tiny bakery and carryout behind his trendy Tremont dining room (2221 Professor Street, 216-592-6656). While the gourmet carryout concept was inspired, the restaurant's new general manager, Alia Haloua, admits business was not equally animated. Instead, the space will now be put to better use as a small private dining area and Chef's Table for 12. (Restaurant veteran Haloua, who managed Mojo's bar since its 1999 opening, replaces Michael Hall, who, semi-reliable sources say, may be planning to open a downtown deli.) The GM and Herschman are also instituting twice-monthly Wine-Tasting Dinners, featuring fine food and wines to match; the six-course feasts will go for $65 per person and require advanced reservations. And look for Tuesdays to become "professional courtesy" nights, with fellow members of the restaurant industry getting treated to a dining discount. Finally, with warm weather on the way, it's time to consider claiming a spot on Mojo's outdoor Portico. Although the heated space has been opened on Friday and Saturday evenings all winter, it should resume nightly service by the end of April.

Teaka time . . . Partners Rick Baribault (Tea House Noodles), Dewey Forward (the former Pete and Dewey's Planet), Dick Korn, and Jim Szaller have brought the noodle-house concept home to Middle America, with last week's opening of Teaka Noodles and Juice in Westgate Mall. Architect/designer Joe Hanna, who created eye-catching designs for former beauties like Marlin and the Caxton Café, has integrated limestone, birch, and stainless steel elements into a sleek setting just right for quick, healthy, and enlightened dining, marking the spot in the mall's food court with a three-dimensional Noodlehead beacon (don't ask; you have to see it). Teaka's menu borrows heavily from the one Baribault developed for Tea House Noodles, featuring big bowls of noodles or rice mixed with an assortment of veggies; topped with chicken, shrimp, tofu, or beans; and napped with anything from mild Thai peanut sauce to the rootin'-tootin' Rica Rica Sauce. Soups, salads, and muffins lend variety; beverages include freshly squeezed juices as well as herbal teas and vitamin-enriched smoothies. And not to fear: Downtown's Tea House Noodles remains in operation under the steady hand of Kathy Baribault and her assistant, Jay Kuebler, while hubby concentrates on the new venture. As the Noodle King points out, you shouldn't go hungry on the path to enlightenment.

Diamonds are forever . . . Officials of the Ohio Motorists Association presented their Four-Diamond award to three local restaurants at a swank dinner held last week at the Baricelli Inn (2203 Cornell Road). The award -- which alerts Triple-A members to the association's top-rated restaurants -- went to Sans Souci (24 Public Square), for the seventh consecutive year; Ristorante Giovanni (25550 Chagrin Boulevard, Beachwood), for the eighth consecutive year; and the Baricelli Inn, for the fourth consecutive year. A Triple-A official says the group would like to add more area restaurants to the winners' list, but locations in marginal neighborhoods or not-quite-up-to-snuff amenities rule out a lot of possible contenders.

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