Club Isabella lives again in Little Italy

And more local food news

For 25 years, Club Isabella was the place to go in University Circle for matchless jazz and food. That all ended in 2007 when University Hospitals razed the legendary club to make way for a new hospital. Understandably, fans were heartbroken.

One thing that will help ease the pain is a visit to the brand-new Club Isabella, which opened in early June. Located in the former Goose Acres Music on Cornell Road in Little Italy, the new home is breathtaking, with blacked-out cathedral ceilings, marble-inlaid tables, and an open floor plan that transitions seamlessly from courtyard to bar to dining room.

Run by Fabio Mota, former chef at Johnny's and final owner of the former Club Isabella, the restaurant features a smashing menu loaded with original tastes. We went nuts over a tuna tartar with deep-fried egg and toast ($11). Ground pork and black bean sauce gave steamed clams ($9) an Asian flair. Our al dente angel-hair pasta dish ($15) was packed with succulent crab meat offset by crisp ham. And don't get us started on the scallops and pork belly dish.

While there is no regularly scheduled jazz, the wonderful soundtrack will be augmented by occasional live performances, says management.

Club Isabella is open for lunch and dinner at 2175 Cornell Rd. For more info, call 216-229-1111 or visit

After three years at Lolita, the last two as executive chef, Andy Strizak has left the restaurant. He will be going to work alongside Ben Bebenroth at Spice of Life Catering.

Taking his place is James Mowcomber, former sous chef at Lola and recent chef at Tremont Tap House. Also joining the Lolita kitchen is Brad Ball, who relocated from Michael Symon's Roast in Detroit, where he was sous chef.

"We're super-excited to have these guys running the kitchen and me out front," says Lolita general manager Matthew Harlan. "We've started changing the menu and will continue to do more in a couple of weeks." Lolita is at 900 Literary Rd. in Tremont; call 216-771-5652 for more information.

Jeff Jarrett is the new executive chef at the Cleveland Airport Marriott and AMP 150, replacing outgoing chef Ellis Cooley.

Palate, the Strongsville restaurant Jarrett opened this past winter, may or may not continue in his absence.

"This opportunity presented itself at a time when I wasn't getting the support I needed from my partners at Palate," Jarrett said in a phone call.

Jarrett's hiring creates as close to a seamless transition as a restaurant could hope for. Jarrett and Ellis share similar cooking styles and farm-to-table passions. The two use most of the same food purveyors. And second-in-command Melissa Khoury will be on hand to provide consistency throughout the transition.

"Having Melissa around will be a huge asset," says Jarrett. Amp 150 is at 4277 West 150th St.; call 216-252-5333 for more information.

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Douglas Trattner

For 20 years, Douglas Trattner has worked as a full-time freelance writer, editor and author. His work on Michael Symon's "Carnivore," "5 in 5" and “Fix it With Food” have earned him three New York Times Best-Selling Author honors, while his longstanding role as Scene dining editor garnered the award of “Best...
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