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Thursday, August 19, 2021

Scorpacciata Pasta and Pizza Take Over the Former Katz Diner in Cleveland Heights to Use as Commissary and Ghost Kitchen

Posted By on Thu, Aug 19, 2021 at 5:31 PM

click to enlarge The former Katz Club Diner will be home to a new ghost kitchen. - DOUGLAS TRATTNER
  • Douglas Trattner
  • The former Katz Club Diner will be home to a new ghost kitchen.

Doug Katz has handed over the keys to his commercial kitchen space in Cleveland Heights to Peter Reuter, owner of Scorpacciata Pasta and Scorpacciata Pizza stands at Van Aken District. The timing of the transfer worked out perfectly for both operators as one was winding down while the other is ramping up, says Katz.

“What’s great is that Peter had interest in creating a commissary for himself and we were ending our catering and our ghost kitchens because we didn’t have the labor to support them and we needed everyone at Zhug and we are gearing up for Amba,” Katz explains. “It just worked out perfectly that Peter could use the space and now its this active corner in Cleveland Heights.”

Reuter, a Johnson and Wales University culinary school graduate, worked with Katz at Fire for three years, where he was the sous chef. He ventured out on his own in 2018, opening Scorpacciata Pasta in a 200-square-foot stall at Van Aken. The success of Van Aken’s Market Hall in general and his shop in particular took him by surprise, he admits.

“I had little to no hopes,” he says. “Nobody knew what to expect and all of the sudden we needed another location. Nobody expected it to blow up, including me.”

The secret to his success is handmade pasta, quality seasonal ingredients and an attention to detail. Dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, gnocchi with pancetta, pear and gorgonzola cream sauce, linguine with clams, asparagus and bread crumbs, and orecchiette with kalamata olives and pistachio-mint pesto cultivated a devoted following at lunch and dinner.

During the pandemic, he was one of the only businesses in the Market Hall producing food. He started baking pizzas from a small oven in the same space, and those too quickly drew raves and repeat orders.

“I’ve been making pizza since I was 15,” Reuter says. “I never wanted to make pizza. But I started doing pizzas as a way to stay afloat at Van Aken during the pandemic. It’s really, really good and it’s fun.”

Reuter snagged a second spot in the Market Hall and opened Scorpacciata Pizza. As with his pastas, his naturally leavened doughs are topped with quality seasonal ingredients that shine. Even with a strict call-ahead-only policy (216-851-6165), there is often a wait for pizzas like the mushroom with roasted garlic and caramelized onion cream or the pancetta with ricotta, onion and fresh basil.

“The reason we wanted to open another location with bigger ovens and more work space is to help take some weight off those Van Aken spots,” he explains. “I’ve been in the market for a commissary kitchen and I wanted a location that would have its own income because I need to hire people for it. I can’t believe we did everything out of those tiny kitchens this whole time.”

Reuter moved in two weeks ago and now shares the building with Rising Star Coffee. The additional space and equipment will allow him to do more specialty pastas and pies at Van Aken, but also to sell food in Cleveland Heights. He plans to begin with salads and pizzas, likely before the end of August. The operation will be strictly pick-up – not unlike the ghost kitchens it replaces – but both indoor and outdoor seating is available. Down the road, Reuter might add pasta to the menu as well as beer and wine.

click to enlarge Scorpacciata Pizza will soon be available in Cleveland Heights in addition to Van Aken District. - MEGHAN CONNELLY
  • Meghan Connelly
  • Scorpacciata Pizza will soon be available in Cleveland Heights in addition to Van Aken District.

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