The best view in the house at Flour, which is now slated to open in late March, may be the very first one diners see. Upon crossing the threshold, guests will have a clear view of the bustling bar and lounge to the left, a massive 630-bottle wine rack to the right, and the open kitchen straight ahead.
"We designed it so that as soon as you walk in the door you see the wood-burning pizza oven," explains executive chef and partner Chris DiLisi.
For the past five years, DiLisi worked as chef at the Baricelli Inn, which closed recently after 25 years. His partner at Flour is his old boss, Paul Minnillo. DiLisi's wife, Krista, will serve as general manager and sommelier.
Flour is described as a "contemporary rustic Italian restaurant" — with the emphasis on contemporary. As the design process for the Moreland Hills bistro evolved, the team edged further away from rustic and closer to modern. Wood floors were ditched for stained concrete. Tabletops are clad in burnished zinc rather than crisp linen. Sleek glass subway tile wraps the backbar and exposed kitchen walls. Room dividers are fabricated from metallic chain mail instead of drapery.
One half of the large space will be devoted to the bar and lounge, seating about half of the restaurant's 140 guests. A large central bar faces out to the street, giving bar diners a view of the kitchen and main dining room. Six lucky guests will have front row seats to the pizza-making action thanks to a chef's table directly on the line.
"True Italian food is simple and seasonal," explains DiLisi. "It's having the confidence to show restraint, to not garnish with 55,000 things when a squirt of lemon will do."
The 100-percent wood-burning pizza oven will be home to Jonathan Vecchio, a trained pizzaiolo from Turin, Italy. While Neapolitan-style pie will be a specialty, the menu hardly stops there. With sections devoted to antipasti, meats and cheeses, salads and greens, pasta, pizza, and entrées, the menu is designed to be enjoyed casually and in various ways. Practically everything will be made in-house, from fresh cheeses like ricotta and mascarpone, to cured meats such as mortadella, sopressata, pancetta and pepperoni.
Homemade pastas, including tagliatelle Bolognese, smoked mushroom gnudi, and ricotta ravioli, are all available by the half or whole portion. In the entrée department — priced $21 to $26 — roasted chops, grilled fish, and braised meats take center plate.
The wine list will feature 30 Italian wines by the glass ($7-12), plus a more geographically diverse by-the-bottle list. "We are going to be real aggressive on our bottle prices," say Minnillo.
Desserts will the province of pastry chef Emily Rosado and will include playful items like ice cream sandwiches, cotton candy and Eskimo pies.
(Pic via Cleveland Foodie)