The Flats East Bank still is a construction zone, but plans continue to come together as it applies to the food scene. In addition to Fabio Salerno's new location for Lago, Ken Stewart's steakhouse, and Shawn Monday's Flip Side, we learned details regarding one of the few remaining spots.
When The Willeyville (pronounced like smiley-ville) opens in early June, it will mark the return of Chris DiLisi. DiLisi was opening chef at Flour in Moreland Hills, and chef at Baricelli Inn for five years before that.
DiLisi describes his restaurant as "seasonal American with global inspirations."
"I hate buzzwords like gastropub and bistro," the chef says. "Everybody has these images about what those words mean. At this point it seems cliché to say chef-driven, nose-to-tail, local, sustainable… All I am promising is we are sourcing the very best meat, fish, produce, and dairy available. It's going to be great food, great service — whatever you want to call it."
The full name of the restaurant is The Willeyville, Handcrafted Consumables. DiLisi aims to push the envelope on housemade food, including the craft cocktail program. Meats purveyors will include Miller grass-fed beef and New Creations pork. In-house charcuterie and house-baked wild-yeast breads will join housemade bitters, tonics, and ginger beer.
The menu — still in the works — will feature plenty of small plates, snacks, and entrees. One idea the chef is toying with is various street foods on sticks, like pork nuggets made from gelatinized and fried pulled pork. "It's a great way to utilize the whole animal," he notes.
Prices will all be kept south of $20.
The 3,000-square-foot space will seat 90 in and another 30 out. DiLisi describes the room as warm and rustic, with reclaimed wood and tables constructed by A Piece of Cleveland.
Willeyville, says DiLisi, is an homage to Cleveland's first mayor John Willey, who dubbed the area Willeyville.
"Picking a name for a restaurant is a weird thing, but we looked up the history and thought it was great," says DiLisi. "It's an homage to what the area was — and were doing old-school cooking, old-school cocktails..."
Willeyville will be open for lunch 6 days and for dinner 7, including family-style Sunday supper.