Since it was announced that James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz would be joining the roster of food and drink retailers at the Van Aken District
in Shaker, it was understood that the Miami-based chef was planning to open a Michael’s Genuine Pizza. But after getting to know the area better, Schwartz elected to go a different, more upscale route.
Come spring, the chef will debut Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink
, a version of his 12-year-old flagship restaurant in the Design District of Miami.
“For us, the goal of any project is to realize its full potential,” explains Schwartz. “Working with the team on site at The Van Aken District, and getting to know the greater area, it became apparent that we wanted to do more. More for us means Michael’s Genuine.”
Since opening in 2007, the Miami original has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, and Time magazine. It is a regular fixture on the Eater list of Miami’s essential eateries.
“Genuine is our heart and soul, and exists because of community,” Schwartz adds. “We couldn’t be more proud or grateful to be in the position to introduce it in Shaker Heights, where stewarding this idea matters more than anything. This is what drew us in from the get-go and will continue to motivate the experience manifested there for our guests.”
Michael’s Genuine is adored for its fresh, seasonal cooking and warm hospitality. An open kitchen, raw bar and conspicuous produce pantry provide drama to the high-energy dining room. A wood-burning oven turns out fire-roasted whole fish, whole chicken and seasonal vegetables. Also on the menu are pizzas so good that they spawned a separate restaurant concept, the aforementioned Michael’s Genuine Pizza.
"We believe in the power of a great, wholesome food to create neighborhood and that essential energy that makes a place feel irresistible and people feel comfortable," says Jon Ratner, principal of Van Aken District. "Few chefs around the country do this at the level of Michael and his team and we are really happy to be able to call his namesake our home, too. The food he brings to the table is about more than simply great taste. It's a welcoming culture of sharing a table with purpose – a feeling we have in common at The Van Aken District and greater Shaker Heights."
To learn more about the Van Aken District, including the soon-to-open food and drink hub Market Hall, check out this feature