Every food -- whether pizza, pasta, or roasted meat -- has its own signature cooking temperature, and those thermostatic benchmarks provide the name of chef Rocco Whalen's about-to-open Tremont restaurant Fahrenheit, where relaxed, inviting dining is scheduled to be the order of the day. The young Whalen, a Mentor native, has a résumé any 25-year-old culinarian could envy, with four years in Wolfgang Puck's cafés in Phoenix and L.A., a two-year tenure at Blue Point Grille, and five months at the new Lockkeepers. While this is his first time as chef-owner, a sneak peek at his moderately priced menu already has us salivating. Savory-sounding dishes include watercress, apple, walnut, and blue cheese salad ($5.50); five-cheese ravioli with pancetta and roasted peppers ($14); chewy-crusted Puck-style pizza with a gourmet blend of portobellos, goat cheese, roasted garlic, and rosemary ($12); and a house filet, with oven-dried tomato, blue-cheese-and-sage sauce, and crispy leeks ($19). Whalen says his menu reflects a commitment to simplicity, freshness, and quality, and to that end, he intends to stock his pantry with goods from local farmers and suppliers. Rob Guel has been tapped as sous chef, and managing partners Kim and Kelly Repas will tend to front-of-the-house duties. Oh, and Kelly, who met Whalen at Blue Point, has another reason to show up for work each day: She and the chef are embroiled in a hot romance of their own. Fahrenheit, at 2417 Professor Street (216-781-8858), opens on Friday, May 17; dinner will be served Monday through Saturday, from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
The meal's the thing . . .
Food plays a starring role in the Cleveland Play House's new dark comedy Dinner With Friends. The story line follows boomers Karen and Gabe, a married pair of food writers and obsessive gourmets, who can rattle off the juicy details of a pomodoro sauce, but can hardly bring themselves to discuss their own relationship as they witness the surprise meltdown of their best friends' marriage. For all its pointed insights, the play is as likely to make patrons think about scoring an after-theater snack as it is to prompt them to reassess their own unions. For those who head home drooling over thoughts of Gabe and Karen's pumpkin risotto, grilled rack of lamb, and tender polenta cake, the Play House comes to the rescue: Recipes for all three dishes (plus that zesty pomodoro) have been gathered from local chefs and printed in the program, providing for at least one type of late-night gratification.