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Bites: Idyllic Italian Setting

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It is pretty tough to top the setting that surrounds Vento La Trattoria, a new Italian eatery in Bay Village (28611 Lake Rd., 440.835.4530, ventotrattoria.com). Located on the grounds of the Metroparks' Huntington Reservation, the idyllic spot is remarkably serene, boasting lush landscapes and distant lake views. Formerly the Coffee Shop, the old wood-sided building has been freshened up and its kitchen expanded. Guests can sit in the wee dining room or out on the gravel-lined patio. Operated by Di DeRubba, with help from partner and husband John McDonnell (Tartine), the casual Italian bistro offers a concise menu with only a handful of appetizers, salads and entrées. Starters include a lovely crab cake ($8), bursting at the seams with sweet seafood. Likewise, a mild pepper ($8) is stuffed to the gills with zesty sausage meat. There is a bright spinach salad ($7), augmented with goat cheese, orange and pistachio nuts. For the main event, a pristine flank of halibut ($16) is topped with tomato puree and sided with red-pepper polenta. A moist but pale skin-on chicken breast ($15) is served on mashed potatoes. At these prices, a simple bread plate would be a reasonable gesture, but none was in sight. We'll chalk up service issues to opening-month snags, but no table should have to ask to hear the specials and receive water. For now there is only a beer list, but diners are encouraged to bring their own bottle of wine (and pay the $10 corkage fee).

It's been seven years since owners Greg and Michael Jurcisin opened Beach Club Bistro in Euclid (21939 Lakeshore Blvd., 216.731.7499, bcbistro.com). Blame it on the seven-year itch, but the duo felt the time was right to expand. "It came down to finding the right place," explains Greg. "We believe we've done that." The Beach Club Grill opened last month in Concord (9853 Johnnycake Ridge Rd., 440.350.0088), taking over the former home of Epiq Bistro. The addition was a natural one, says management, since much of the original shop's fan base hails from the eastern 'burbs. The roomy restaurant can seat about 180 between the bar, lounge, dining room and patio. Perhaps the best news is that former Beach Club Bistro chef David Hopkins will be heading up the kitchen at the Grill. Diners can look forward to many of the same appetizers, pizzas and pastas, but also more high-end entrées like steaks and chops.

dining@clevescene.com

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