Debuting last week, the new menu from Executive Chef Keoko Turner has raised some eyebrows among regulars at Vito's Italian Grill (395 Aurora Road, Aurora, 330-562-6010). The document is filled not with eggplant parmesan or gnocchi Bolognese, but with such bistro classics as braised short ribs, roasted chicken, and "fork-tender" pork chops with cider demi-glace. But the talented Turner, whose résumé includes stints at Vong and Union Pacific in N.Y.C., as well as Cleveland's Vivo, Park City Diner, and the former Alexandria's on Main, soon should have diners eating out of his hand.
So far, Italian standards continue to share space with Turner's new additions, and they don't get short shrift. But the real taste of what's to come is found among the entrées. Those boneless, braised beef short ribs ($14.95), for example? Lean and meaty, yet seemingly capable of dissolving beneath a stern glance. And the pork chop ($14.95) might not have been quite fork-tender, but it was plenty thick and juicy, and wonderfully flavorful.
Turner has never before let the grass grow beneath his feet, so we had to ask whether he's in this project for the long haul. Sounds as if he is: Over the next 90 days, if all goes as planned, he will become Vito's part-owner, joining veteran restaurateur Clyde Mart in revising the menu and sharpening the kitchen's focus.
Which doesn't mean that Mart plans to goof off. "You know when I'll retire?" he snaps. "When they plant me!"
Small bites . . . Chef Pete Tsirambidis is temporarily closing his West Side restaurant, Pete's Corner Grille (4457 Broadview Road), and heading to Greece. Between the moribund local economy and pending road projects, Tsirambidis said this seemed a good time to get away. He's hoping that when he returns in mid-November, both the business climate and the streets will have improved . . . Pastry chef Heather Haviland (Sweet Mosaic, 216-374-9030) has hit the road too; happily, she's only gone as far as Canal Fulton, where she's taking part in the annual Yankee Peddler Festival. Haviland says that she was honored by the invitation to participate in the popular pioneer-crafts show, but she wasn't so keen on the prospect of dressing up in 18th-century garb. "Fortunately, they wanted me for the new section of the festival, featuring contemporary crafts," she laughs, "so we don't have to dress up." Haviland and her homies have been tempting shoppers at the outdoor fete with pumpkin cake, gingerbread, caramelized pecan scones, and cinnamon rolls, among other sweets. The festival continues September 18-19 and 25-26. Visit www.yankeepeddlerfestival.com for details.