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Now Open: Home Bistro in Little Italy | Doug Trattner reports

The history of this restaurant proves you can always come home again

CLEVELAND — Victor Morenz and Emily Gilbert have been working for months to transform the former Gusto space in Little Italy into an attractive little bistro called Home (12022 Mayfield Rd., 216-795-5582). For years, the space was closed to the public except for a few days each summer during the Feast. Now, guests are welcome to enjoy the lovingly restored property and patio while they enjoy chef Morenz’ approachable and seasonal New American cuisine.

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The restaurant is a rebirth of a Chicago restaurant of the same name that the husband-and-wife team owned in Chicago. The popular spot lasted 10 years until the couple decided to relocate to Cleveland where Morenz grew up. After a lengthy search around town, they landed in Little Italy, a neighborhood they say feels a lot like the one Home Bistro called home back in Chicago.

With considerable help from family, the couple reworked almost every surface of the two-room space, from floors to walls to fixtures to restrooms. A storefront renovation project installed a wall of glass where brick long stood, brightening up both rooms considerably. Inside or out on the rear covered patio is a great place to dine and enjoy the spectacular wine list that offers every bottle by the glass.

Morenz describes his cooking as New American, adding that he typically starts with what’s fresh and in season before devising his dishes and menus. Those menus change very frequently, encouraging guests to return often to taste what’s new. On the current menu are tantalizing dishes like crispy fried oysters with cheesy grits, ricotta gnocchi with smoked chicken in mushroom marsala sauce, rainbow trout with horseradish crème fraiche, fingerling potatoes and fried egg, and pan-roasted pork loin served with creamy grits and braised collard greens.

The restaurant is open every night for dinner except Monday. Neighbors can look forward to weekend brunch in the coming weeks.

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