Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Something New for Canton

Downtown Canton got its first real chef-driven farm-to-table restaurant in July. It’s called Lucca. The husband and I had dinner there recently with people who supply some of the kitchen’s fine local ingredients. At the table were Mindy and Phil Bartholomae of Breezy Hill Farm in Homeworth, who raise an A-to-Z assortment of fruits and vegetables on their 23 acres, which includes three high tunnels so they can harvest year-round. The other couple was Jean Mackenzie and Jim Zella of Mackenzie Creamery, the award-winning artisanal goat cheese producer in Hiram (they had organized the get-together). It was a lovely evening of good food, good wine and great conversation in a pretty, contemporary setting.

Josh Schory, who put in time at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, was at the stove. He's young, just 29, and this is his first restaurant, owned in partnership with his father, who stopped by to introduce himself. Josh decided to name it after his favorite town in Italy and wants to reproduce the fresh, simple, seasonal dishes that are eaten in this part of Tuscany.
After sampling a variety of appetizers, salads, and a couple of entrees, I can happily report that he captures the spirit of this cuisine and infuses it with Ohio flavors and his personal style.

Bread from nearby Hazel Artisan Bakery dipped in an excellent imported olive oil whetted our appetites for a buffet of shared starters: fried calamari, lightly coated with semolina flour, with roasted garlic and lemon aioli; crispy flatbreads with Prosciutto di Parma, goat cheese and pear jam; and littleneck clams in a fennel pollen butter broth that had us begging for extra bread to sop up every last drop.

A caprese salad, with multicolored roasted beets standing in for the tomatoes, fresh pulled mozzarella, arugula and toasted pine nuts, was next for me. The husband and I shared my succulent grilled herb-crusted lamb chops, which came with housemade gnocchi in a cheddar sage sauce, and his simple but tasty linguini tossed with roasted garlic, toasted walnuts (a nice touch), arugula, basil and pecorino romano. The six of us passed around and polished off a nicely conceived cheese board to finish.

I’m always glad to discover a spot like Lucca, with a dedication to scratch cooking and local sourcing, in one of Northeast Ohio’s urban centers. Admittedly, its a longish drive from Cleveland just for dinner, but not out of the question, especially if you want to support a business like this. But if you’re in the area or live nearby, you'd be foolish not to take advantage of such an exciting and admirable addition to the area's dining options.

3 comments:

Bite Buff said...

Sounds like a wonderful spot to check out!

Crystal @EatDrinkClev said...

When I heard the name, the first thing I thought of was the Italian city - one of my favorites too. Any chef who loves it enough to name a restaurant after it sounds like my kind of chef! And from your write up, I will gladly make the drive to taste for myself. I'm happy to hear that Canton has yet another place to add its list of foodie destinations.

John Strauss said...

I have eaten there two times and it was excellent both. Full disclosure: I know Phil and Mindy of Breezy Hill and they are great people as well as providing a wonderful fresh product. This is a special place. Don't delay in checking it out. We drive an hour to Cleveland to eat out and I think the distance is the same coming here!