When Paul Minnillo shuttered his Baricelli Inn after 25 years, he cleared the way for a different approach at the historic Little Italy castle. Scott Kuhn, the new operator of the inn, makes it clear that a departure is precisely what's in store: Slated to open in mid-November, Washington Place Bistro will be a modern American bistro serving value-driven fare. "The biggest change will be the concept," explains Kuhn, who also runs 87 West at Crocker Park and Welshfield Inn in Burton. "The goal at all my restaurants is to make guests feel comfortable and welcome." The high-end but affordable cuisine, he adds, will attract everybody from penny-pinching grad students to flush professionals. Already under way is a major renovation that will add a bar and lounge area, remodeled dining rooms, and a doubling of the outdoor patio. "This is a head-on collision between modern and classical," he says. The eclectic menu is still in the works.
"We have been playing around with the Salmon Dave's menu, trying to get it more contemporary," explains Christopher Oppewall, director of operations for Hospitality Restaurants, which owns the Rocky River restaurant at 19015 Lake Rd. "I am pretty excited." Following a multi-month tweaking period, the restaurant has launched a tantalizing new pub menu. Asian-themed items like tiger shrimp yakitori, pulled-pork-filled steamed buns, and ramen noodle bowls with braised pork belly seem ideally suited for the season and the setting. The menu, priced $8 to $12, is discounted by half on Fridays from 9 to midnight. October also signals the start of Salmon Dave's ever-popular Lobster Fest, offering everything from lobster Wellington and lobster pasta to the fully loaded lobster bake with clams, chicken, and whole Maine lobster.
"My most important role is teaching the students," says Jonathan Kish, new chef at Loretta Paganini's Sapore Restaurant (8623 Mayfield Rd. in Chesterland, 440-729-1110, saporerestaurant.net) and instructor at the nearby culinary school. "But it's also very important to make the restaurant a jewel of the organization. After all, that's what these students are aspiring to be: chefs at a great restaurant." A veteran restaurateur and caterer, Kish brings to the Italian restaurant a mastery of classic French technique. Sapore is open only on Fridays and Saturdays, and offers both prix fixe and à la carte menus.