Piscazzi’s Merchant Tavern, 1824 Merriman Road, Akron, can’t help but bring back memories of the former Wine Merchant restaurant.
One of the owners of the tavern, Anthony Piscazzi, 34, is the great-nephew of John Piscazzi, who owned and operated the original Wine Merchant in the Merriman Valley for years, along with his mother Lucy, Anthony’s great-grandmother.
Clearly food is in the family’s blood.
While the establishment is primarily a bar, its dinner menu has been generating quite a buzz since it opened in October.
Piscazzi said he called it a tavern, because he didn’t want folks to think the place was all about drinking. “I’m leaning towards growing into a gastro-pub. It’s not quite a restaurant, not quite a bar,” he said.
The menu is packed with appetizers, sandwiches and burgers, there are daily specials including housemade soups, and entrees such as mussels in a white wine tomato broth, penne pasta with broccoli, and pork chop served over roasted butternut squash spaetzle with spinach and maple glaze, which were featured recently.
Cooking along with Piscazzi is Victor Todaro, a grandson of the banquet center family.
Piscazzi grew up at the Wine Merchant, and went on to work at the former Liberty Brewing and Russo’s before moving to Colorado, where he worked for a wine distributor. He’s been saving up to open his own place since coming back to Ohio.
“I learned a lot about cooking from my family,” he said. “If you buy fresh ingredients, the better the quality, the less you have to do to make it taste good.”
Piscazzi said he hopes the tavern is the kind of place where folks can come on a Thursday night for a burger and a beer, or on the weekend for a nice dinner with a date.
The tavern is open from 3:30 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Thursday; 3:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Saturday; and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.
New home for BBQ
Smoke-N-Joe’s BBQ and Soul Food has found a new home in Lakemore.
Owner Greg Long previously had a business on South Hawkins Avenue in Akron, but after an injury forced him to close, he set up shop in a trailer parked at Yogi’s Big Blue Carryout, 551 W. Thornton St., Akron.
Now, Long has once again found a place to call home, a storefront at 1458 Lakemore Road, Lakemore.
Long said he’s serving all of the traditional favorites for eat-in or carryout, including barbecued beef, pork ribs, beef brisket, chicken, fish, shrimp, sausages and pulled pork. He’s also serving up plenty of Southern-style sides, like baked beans, cole slaw, collard greens, macaroni and cheese and potato salad.
Smoke-N-Joe’s is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Phone 330-687-9591.
Wine and cupcakes
The owners of Cupcake Binge! in Munroe Falls are now operating a wine bar at the same location, 20 N. Main St., called unWINEd on Main.
Owners Greg and Lynne Stricker are serving 14 wines by the glass and a larger selection of wines by the bottle, along with craft beers, small plate appetizers and gourmet pizzas — as well as cupcakes.
Hours for Cupcake Binge! are 1 p.m. until sold out Tuesday through Friday, and 11 a.m. until sold out Saturday; and for unWINEd on Main, 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday and noon to midnight Saturday. Cupcakes sold after 4 p.m. will be carry-out only. Phone 330-686-1600.
Raise your cup
Tuesday is National Egg Nog Day. How convenient that it falls on Christmas Eve
Bubbles at Papa Joe’s
Papa Joe’s Iacomini’s, 1661 Akron-Peninsula Road, Akron, will be hosting a Grower Champagne Dinner at 7 p.m. Dec. 28.
Each of the five courses will be accompanied by a different champagne. The menu includes scallops, seared yellowfin tuna, breast of veal with butternut squash gnocchi, and profiteroles with fig crème and honey.
The dinner is $120. Phone 330-923-7999 to reserve a spot.!