Former New York City chef Moha Orchid developed a loyal local following with his short-lived Soup & Stew in the Galleria food court. Now the gregarious native of Morocco has resurfaced with Venezia in Lakewood (16300 Detroit Avenue, 216-226-0006), a full-service showcase for his earthy Mediterranean fare.
Concise and moderately priced, Orchid's lunch and dinner menus tilt toward Italian, with flatbread pizza, pasta, and osso buco among the main attractions, joined by salads, homemade soups, and freshly baked pastries. Broad, snappy tagliatelle, tossed with plush strands of herb-piqued pork in a sleek demiglace ($14), was a standout during a recent dinner. More enticing still was the giant bastila, a savory Moroccan pastry of shredded chicken, egg, onions, and ground almonds, baked in phyllo and dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar ($18). Meaty yet sweet, lush but crisp-edged, bastila is not only delicious; it's a rarity on Cleveland-area menus -- and well worth trying.
As might be expected from a spot barely a month old, there are still kinks to be ironed out: While well-intentioned, service was tentative and unpolished, and alcohol permits have yet to been obtained. Still, with the talented Orchid at the helm, Venezia seems poised to blossom.
Say "chèvre" . . . Add Lake Erie Creamery to the growing list of small, artisanal foodmakers. Owned and operated by husband and wife Gerald Onken and Mariann Janosko, the West Side fromagerie crafts 50 pounds of mild, creamy goat cheese each week, using milk from a Mantua herd. Demand has been so heavy -- mainly from spots like The Inn at Turner's Mill in Hudson, Sergio's in University Circle, and Fahrenheit in Tremont -- that Janosko and Onken soon hope to double their output.
Eight-ounce containers of the cheese go for $8, available at Peninsula's Crooked River Herb Farm (1663 Main Street, 330-657-2332) and AnneMarie's Dairy (stalls H-4 and 5 at the West Side Market). Catch the cheesemakers on Saturday, November 18, at the Holiday Market at Peninsula's Heritage Farm (6050 Riverview Road). The rain-or-shine event will be held inside the farm's spacious tree barn, in front of a blazing fire; produce, freshly baked bread, locally roasted coffee, honey, and gifts also will be available. For more info, visit www.cvcountryside.org or call 330-657-2538.