Cleveland celeb chef Michael Symon (Lola, Lolita) didn't claw his way to the top by following the rules. But beginning this week, he's agreed to abide by the law -- the law of traditional Neapolitan pizza-making, that is.
Turns out the folks in Naples take their thin-crusted pies pretty seriously, establishing strict guidelines for construction. Among the requirements: a wood-burning oven capable of reaching 800 degrees, hand-mixed dough made from ultra-fine flour, San Marzano (plum) tomatoes, bufala mozzarella, basil, salt, and yeast. Only fresh, natural, nonprocessed ingredients need apply.
And that's just the way chefs Matt Harlan and Cory Barrett are making them, beginning this week at Lolita (900 Literary Road, 216-771-5652). The righteously rendered pies ($12) will be topped with everything from anchovies to housemade lamb sausage.
Also on the new, value-priced Lolita menu: more than a dozen starters, ranging from warm olives ($3) to crispy chicken livers ($7); a lineup of house-cured meats and sausages ($9); and a handful of $16 entrées, including roast chicken, hanger steak, and braised pork cheeks.
Salty Blonde: Looks like Halite's former Ohio City space (2800 Clinton Avenue) won't be empty much longer. Ilona Simon, owner of Independence's Budapest Blonde wine and martini bar, announced last week that she has purchased the building from Ricardo Sandoval and Jack Anfang (Fat Cats, Lava Lounge) to launch her second venture, Budapest Blue. Simon's daughter Vera Durejko and son Nick Durejko, both formerly with HOB's Foundation Room, will be in charge.
When it opens in late September, Budapest Blue will be mainly a bar, serving beer, wine, and cocktails, along with a small roundup of casual noshes. But Simon will begin preparing Hungarian-style lunches later in the year.
Hola, Zócalo: Fans of Mexican fare who have been peering through the windows of this beautiful downtown grill and "tequileria" should be happy to hear the spot is finally set to open on Thursday, September 6. The work of L.A.-based Trifecta Management Group (Corner Alley, Flannery's Irish Pub), Zócalo will offer lunch and dinner, including fish tacos, chicken mole, and gourmet guacamoles, along with an enormous selection of tequilas. Find 'em at 2071 East Fourth Street, across from Lola.