click to enlarge
Courtesy Fadi Daoud
Frutti di Mare from Antica in Avon.
Cafe Piccolo, a popular Italian restaurant in Avon, closed its doors after three years at the start of the pandemic. Another business, Flair 22, announced plans soon after to take the space over but never made it to opening day. In January, Heck’s owner Fadi Daoud signed the lease and spent the next six months updating the space in advance of opening Antica Italian Kitchen
(35568 Detroit Rd., 440-517-0096), which he did in mid-July.
“It’s completely changed,” Daoud says of the interior. “We wanted to give it a different look to match the concept. It was very heavy and classic but now it’s more open and comfortable.”
Daoud, who owns Heck’s in Ohio City as well as a second Heck’s in the very same shopping center, says he likes the location because of its anti-chain stance.
“I feel like people crave for a new space, especially in the Avon area,” he says. “Where we are, it’s heavy on chains. The center we are in is a mostly local collection. It’s one of the only centers in Avon that’s all local.”
Now, sitting alongside the likes of Heck’s, Mitchell’s Ice Cream, Kelsey Elizabeth Cakes and Melt is Antica. Daoud recruited chef Josh Septoski from Chicago, where he worked as an Italian cooking instructor at Eataly. The menu is described as “classic Italian with a modern take.”
“Simplicity is key, just really, relly good ingredients, most of which are imported except for the local stuff,” adds Daoud.
To start, there’s arancini, fritto misto, burrata with grilled focaccia, Kobe beef meatballs, and tuna crudo with olive oil, orange and red pepper flakes. Soups and salad choices include pasta fagioli, caprese and Tuscan kale with shaved brussels. The pasta section is flushed out with classics like spaghetti pomodoro, frutti di mare, gnocchi with pesto cream and rigatoni carbonara. For the main event, there’s whole roasted branzino, grilled Ohio lamb chops, grilled salmon and veal saltimbocca. All of those choices are joined by creative pizzas, seasonal vegetables and a few classic desserts.
Daoud says that Antica is off to a great start and that Heck’s, which he purchased more than 15 years ago, is navigating these turbulent times as well.
“Heck’s at both locations are doing great,” he says. “We had to figure out what needs to be done, what needs to be changed on the fly when the shutdown happened. When we opened back up it’s been a good ride so far. Just keeping it up to date, approachable, comfortable. I feel like that’s what people are looking for now more than ever.”