First Look: Cordelia, Opening Wednesday, July 20 on East 4th Street

Partners Andrew Watts and Vinnie Cimino will debut their 'Midwest Nice' eatery in the former Lola Bistro space

click to enlarge Cordelia on East 4th Street opens July 20 - Andrew Watts
Andrew Watts
Cordelia on East 4th Street opens July 20

When it comes to hotly anticipated restaurants, it’s impossible to top Cordelia, which has been taking shape in the former home of Michael Symon’s Lola Bistro. Owner Andrew Watts calls East 4th Street “the best address in the city,” and come Wednesday, July 20, he and executive chef Vinnie Cimino will officially become that street’s newest operators.

Named for Watts’ great-grandmother, Cordelia (2058 E. 4th St.) aims to be a celebration of Cleveland and the Midwest, with a heightened focus on hospitality – an approach they’re calling “Midwest Nice.”

“She took care of her community and she taught our family what hospitality is and how vital it is to take care of folks,” Watts says of his great-grandmother. “From the onset, it’s going to be very obvious how appreciative we are for every single person coming through the door.”

To complement that “Midwest Nice” hospitality, Cimino has devised a style of cuisine that he calls “Modern Grandma,” which reimagines familiar Midwest classics that many of us grew up enjoying around the family dinner table.

“The menu is about celebrating heritage, culture and the farmer's bounty,” Cimino explains. “Our food and dishes are born out of the partnerships we build with our farmers. As Midwesterners, our seasons are fleeting and we relish the opportunity to showcase the harvest. Food is hospitality, it’s culture, it’s grandma's warm embrace and never being able to leave without leftovers.”

Cimino, the former chef de cuisine of Greenhouse Tavern, will put his local farmer connections to good use in dishes like “Pantry Snacks and Relish Trays,” which includes farmer’s cheese with honey and fermented garlic alongside jammy eggs with harissa. Other menu sections are titled “Breads & Things,” “Eat Your Veggies” and “From Our Butchers.” For diners eager to leave the decision making to the kitchen, there’s a whimsical tasting menu called “Bellie Up” (named after Vinnie’s grandparent’s restaurant Bellie's Deli). Some dishes that guests can look forward to are pork belly with sarsaparilla beurre blanc, popcorn chicken livers with ballpark maple mustard, and Steak Cordelia, a large-format cut.

Bar Manager Sebastian Albornoz has crafted a cocktail program that leans into his South American roots, with creative concoctions featuring exotic fruits, coffee, oat milk, matcha, turmeric and carrot. There will also be enough beer, wine and NA options to satisfy all guests.

Up until today, most of us have had few glimpses into Cordelia’s interior design. On the exterior, we’ve watched the installation of that dazzling 1940s-inspired signage with animated lights. New hydraulic garage-door windows have been installed in the bar area and the second dining room, opening onto an expanded front patio.

But step inside and you’ll be transported to an old-world tavern with timeless appeal. The original terrazzo flooring at the entrance, uncovered during construction, gives way to new wood flooring in the bar area. An expanded 20-stool wraparound bar is wrapped at the base by handsome penny tile mosaic flooring. Behind the bar, Lola’s “wall of wine” has been removed and the original brickwork exposed. Open shelving adds to the tavern look.

Also in the bar, a 12-seat communal table has been constructed. In the dining room, the 15-foot coffered ceiling has been painted a bright white and new booths and banquettes have been installed on a slightly elevated platform that rings the room.

Cimino says that the general look and feel of Lola's prized open kitchen has remained intact, but much of the equipment has been updated or replaced. The small corner chef’s table of old is now a roomy 12-seat dinner counter.

click to enlarge Cordelia on East 4th Street opens July 20 - Dylan Palchesko
Dylan Palchesko
Cordelia on East 4th Street opens July 20
click to enlarge Cordelia on East 4th Street opens July 20 - Dylan Palchesko
Dylan Palchesko
Cordelia on East 4th Street opens July 20
click to enlarge Cordelia on East 4th Street opens July 20 - Dylan Palchesko
Dylan Palchesko
Cordelia on East 4th Street opens July 20
click to enlarge Cordelia on East 4th Street opens July 20 - Dylan Palchesko
Dylan Palchesko
Cordelia on East 4th Street opens July 20

About The Author

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...
Scroll to read more Food News articles
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.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join Cleveland Scene Newsletters

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