Dining » Dining Lead

Invisible Ray

The Food Network descends upon Cleveland, with or without its star.

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The Food Network's Rachael Ray knows how to avoid being mobbed by fans when she films her shows: She doesn't show up. That was her MO last week, when two production crews from her latest series, Tasty Travels, visited a dozen local venues, mostly without Ray.

One of the show's producers says that's standard procedure anywhere Ray's show goes: Many places get filmed, but few actually see the star. (Ray's voice-over commentary is added later.) Featured locations are chosen with the help of books, websites, and recommendations from Ray's friends, family, and producers.

This time around, her destinations included Touch Supper Club, Fat Fish Blue, Nighttown, Fire, Sokolowski's, Mad Greek, Pickwick & Frolic, Hot Sauce Williams, Hornblower's, Fahrenheit, Sans Souci, and Guarino's -- though Ray set foot only in the first four venues. Not only did she check out legendary Robert Lockwood Jr.'s set at Fat Fish Blue; she dropped by Touch in time to catch the salsa dancing, which had been moved from Friday night to Thursday to accommodate her schedule. "She danced a little bit," says Touch owner Robert Ivanov. "But not on camera."

Tasty Travels airs on the Food Network Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; the show's second season begins April 14. For updates on when the Cleveland episode will air, go to www.foodtv.com.

Shhh . . . "We're just going to unlock the door and see who comes through it," Eric Williams said last month, in reference to the opening of Momocho, his new contemporary Mexican restaurant in Ohio City. But based on the buzz the place is getting, the Friday, April 14 opening is likely to be anything but quiet.

Don't drop by looking for beans and rice. Williams' menu eschews Tex-Mex standards in favor of dishes like guacamole piqued with jicama, pineapple, and habaneros, and adobo lamb chops with jalapeño mustard crema.

Momocho's ambiance should be as sassy as the food: The 60-seat space will feature an open kitchen with counter seating, along with a smart selection of beers, tequilas, and Spanish and South American wines, chosen for their affinity for Hispanic fare. And once warm weather arrives, the fiesta moves onto the patio. Momocho (216-694-2122) is at 1835 Fulton Road, in space formerly occupied by the Fulton Bar & Grill.

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