It's never easy on a restaurant when a popular chef leaves. Adoring fans will follow their haute hero on to greener pastures, while those left behind will grumble about real or perceived differences in quality. That's why we couldn't be happier with the situation at Bar Cento, a restaurant we have loved since Day One. When opening chef Jon Sawyer bowed out to focus on Greenhouse Tavern, his second-in-command, Mike Nowak, not only rose to the occasion — he excelled. Possessing the same earnest passion for local foods — and pork — Nowak continues to draw crowds of happy diners the same way Sawyer did. Rather than coast on the coattails of his predecessor, he adds and drops menu items with the confidence of a seasoned pro. You can still tuck into a classic Sunnyside pizza, topped with pancetta and egg, but also pappardelle with pork rib confit or fried quail with tomato glaze and Ohio-corn pancake. Change — and stability — never tasted so good.
1948 West 25th St., 216-274-1010, barcento.com