It’s been a year and a half since Giovanni's Ristorante
owner Carl Quagliata announced that he would be opening a barbecue restaurant in the former home of Fisher’s Tavern in Mayfield, which had closed after 82 years in business.
Like all restaurant projects, this one took longer than anticipated, but the finish line is now just two weeks away.
“I honestly have no idea how the building has stayed standing,” says chef-partner Zachary Ladner, who was showing off the new Smokin Q's BBQ and Beer House
(718 SOM Center Rd., Mayfield, 440-646-0411, smokinbbq.com).
What started out life as a residential home was added onto multiple times over the years, resulting in a disjointed and not altogether safe structure. Ladner says that most of the floor joists needed to be replaced and a new foundation poured to support the kitchen, which had been operating on a simple slab.
“You should never rush an opening,” says Quagliata, who has opened more than a few restaurants in his time.
But soon enough, large red neon letters in the window will light the way to “BBQ.” Ladner, who grew up eating barbecue in Texas, will be preparing Central Texas-style barbecue on a large gas-and-wood powered Southern Pride smoker flavored with oak, apple and hickory woods. The chef will take what he’s learned in the world of fine dining (he’s been the chef at Giovanni's for seven years) and apply it to barbecue. That means using top-quality meats from the likes of Niman Ranch, New Creation, Creekstone Farms and Beeler’s.
“I want it to be the best I can get,” Ladner says.
Main courses like smoked beef plate short ribs (aka giant beef ribs), beef brisket, pork spare ribs, and pulled pork shoulder will be sold by weight and served one of two different ways. Traditional Style is with sliced bread, slaw, pickles and sauce. El Jefe Style pairs the meat with housemade corn-flour tortillas, slaw, salsa and guacamole.
Other items from the smoker include half-chickens, Hudson Valley duck legs, and housemade jalapeno-cheddar sausage.
Appetizers include garlic-chile chicken drumettes, brisket poutine with fries, curds and sauce, and pulled pork nachos. The Hot Chick sandwich is stuffed with pulled smoked chicken, slaw and sauce, while the Fat Heifer is layered with chopped beef, buttermilk fried onions, queso and slaw. In a nod to his Tex-Mex-obsessed days, the chef added a few tacos filled with crispy shrimp, pulled pork, or pulled chicken.
Sides run the gamut from honey-butter cornbread to flash-fried sweet corn tossed with chipotle butter and salty cotija cheese. A smoked bean cassoulet is studded with beef brisket, pork shoulder, sausage and duck confit.
Beer taps will dispense a nice selection of Cleveland and Ohio brews, while a list of creative cocktails will feature Ohio made spirits. All of the above will make the perfect companion to a meal on Smokin Q's wraparound front patio that features a towering stone-clad fireplace.
As you can tell by the pictures, Smokin Q's is a step above the sawdust-covered roadhouses of the West. The 100-seat restaurant features a gorgeous wood bartop, cushy booths in the dining room, industrial lighting, and walls of windows that bring in tons of natural light. But guests shouldn’t expect a stuffy fine-dining establishment either, says Ladner.
“We want it to feel casual, but we don’t want it to be the kind of place where people are doing shots at the bar,” he says. “There has to be some level of class to be a Quagliata restaurant.”
He points out that meals will be served on butcher paper-topped metal trays, but there will not be disposable tableware or silver. Sides will be presented in cast-iron skillets.
“Those little touches add more to someone’s experience by giving them something else to remember,” says the chef.
When it opens in mid-May, Smokin Q's BBQ and Beer House will serve lunch and dinner, plus takeout service.