The dictionary defines "fracas" as a noisy, disorderly disturbance or brawl. By mid-December, the word will take on new meaning when Fracas opens in Cleveland Heights. Billed as a gastropub, the eatery will take over the historic Centrum Theater near Coventry Road, which most recently housed Johnny Malloy's. Chef-owner Phil Romano, formerly of Hyde Park and House of Blues, describes the operation as a white-tablecloth pub serving higher-end comfort and bar foods. "This will be a few steps above a student-crowd-type bar," he says. "We will be a restaurant that just so happens to have a bar — not the other way around."
Specialties will include duck confit quesadillas with manchego cheese, IPA-braised short ribs with truffle potato salad, and porcini-crusted strip steak with heirloom tomato jam. Romano says he chose the location for his first solo project for a number of reasons. "I just love the Cleveland Heights scene, the whole Coventry vibe, and that building — a gorgeous 1920s theater." Restored to near-original, the space boasts plaster elements and original wall colorings and architectural details. The dining room, once the main theater, will seat 130, not counting the bar and front patio. In addition to extensive beer and wine lists, Romano intends to brew on premises by early next year.
Denajua, everybody's favorite crêpe crafter, is back in the game after a long hiatus. The original owner of Le Oui Oui Café, who got her start in the crêpe business at Market 25 (now Bier Markt), has just opened a small crêpe shop near Case Western Reserve. Located in a multi-operator space (11309 Euclid Ave.; 216-231-2800) that includes Luchita's Express, Oui Oui offers made-from-scratch crêpes and quiches. Sweet and savory varieties include ham and brie, spinach and mozzarella, and Nutella and banana. "The students are absolute Nutella addicts," says Denajua. "I may need to open a rehab center for them." Prices are $4 to $6.
Brian Okin blames poor location and the economy for the closure of his one-year-old Verve, which ended its run last week. It certainly wasn't the food, which was creative, delicious, and always spot-on. "It was the right product, we got great press; there just wasn't enough business to keep it going," Okin laments. After securing positions for all of his kitchen staff at other restaurants, Okin hopes to do the same for himself.