flour in moreland hills

Like many of you, I was sad when Baricelli closed. I’ve spent many summer nights on that patio enjoying wine, cheese and the bucatini all’ amatriciana. But truthfully, I only took advantage of Baricelli in the summer because I was never a fan of the decor inside. While the patio and building itself may have been magnificent, and the chef legendary to Clevelanders, it was time for them to move on. And while I’m sure there is still sadness for Paul Minnillo after closing his beloved restaurant after 25 years (how can there not be?), after several conversations with him, and watching him enjoy his new roots, I’m confident he hasn’t second guessed his decision.

Minnillo, along with partner/executive chef  Chris Di Lisi, have resurfaced in Moreland Hills at Flour. After a few visits, heck, after the first time I opened the door, it’s safe to say Flour is the exact opposite of Baricelli (speaking solely on the decor, vibe and pricing). I wasn’t necessarily in love with every bite of every dish, though some I clearly was, but I was quite smitten with the atmosphere, offerings and the fact that it’s kid-friendly (more on this in a minute). Yes I think Minnillo and Di Lisi will do quite well here, and it’s certainly worth coming to the east side to experience for yourself. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I was – and therefore know we’ll  be back several times over.

As far as dining with little ones, when I first toured the space while  still under construction, Di Lisi shared that they plan on welcoming diners of all ages and sizes. So we took him up on it. During our second visit, we were with toddler. And we weren’t alone – there was about 4 minis in total in the restaurant that night. Granted, we all sat towards the back and were there around 5:30, but regardless, they were welcoming, had high chairs and several food items they would make for kids that aren’t on the menu (though Natalie enjoyed one of the pizzas). I will say that when Di Lisi talked to me about being kid-friendly and described the type of decor they were going for, I had a specific imagine in my mind of the type of restaurant this was going to be. I was quite surprised when I went the first time for dinner that what I envisioned and the contemporary masterpiece that actually came to life were two different things. But don’t let the chic, modern look full you – if you’re like us and like to dine out as a family, bring ’em. Just be smart about it – regardless of where you dine out with kids. No one wants to hear screaming kids, but if you plan ahead and make a few modifications, they won’t have to.

As for everything else, you can read my full Metromix review here. Or as always, here’s part of the review:

One of the Cleveland’s most well-respected and beloved chefs, Paul Minnillo, is back. After closing his long-standing Baricelli Inn in the heart of Little Italy last year, Minnillo, together with partner/executive chef Chris Di Lisi, have resurfaced within the east side suburb of Moreland Hills with Flour, a rustic Italian restaurant.

Food: Flour is the type of Italian restaurant Minnillo has wanted to do for the past 15 years. Inspired by Flour and Water in San Francisco and Locanda Verde in New York City, Flour focuses on the two chefs take on traditional Italian food, highlighting simple dishes from salads to pastas to wood-fired pizzas featuring four to five ingredients max (note: there will be no  parmesan of any kind here). Look for the menu to change often. And not just seasonally, but rather every few weeks.

After a couple visits, we were able to sample a nice variety of dishes. Appetizers not to be missed include the crispy calamari ($9.50), a nice take on an expected offering, and the spring pea, pecorino and mint bruschetta and rock shrimp and garlic bruschetta ($3.50 per piece). In total, there are four different bruschetta offered; it’s nice to be able to mix and match and try a variety.

Or forgo traditional appetizers altogether and instead opt for a sampling of cheese to start the meal (or as we prefer, finish the meal). The salumi, also made in-house, and cheese selection change daily and are available in different portions. We sampled three ($9) with crusty bread and honey: brunet, pecorino and robiola. The offering is nice and in fact, add some salumi, plenty of their fresh bread and a few glasses of wine, and this alone can serve as a wonderful meal.

For salads, their take on the classic panzanella ($9.50) with grilled bread, onions and black olives makes for quite the enjoyable start. The beet salad ($10.50) with arugula, fennel, blood oranges and ricotta was also nice but not a favorite, perhaps because it was light on the beets which were in fact slightly undercooked.

Like Baricelli, pasta, which is made in-house, is available as either a full or half order. The gnudi ($12 for half) is not to be missed. It’s almost addicting with its smoked mushrooms, generous amounts of thick pancetta and rich taleggio.

For heartier options, choices range from veal short ribs, tomato braised pork shank, to salmon and sirloin. We couldn’t resist the diver scallops with fennel atop absolutely perfect olive oil mashed potatoes ($28). A simply perfect dish that will surely be ordered in the future.

There are five, 10-inch pizzas available, each served with a side of chili oil. Pizzas can be topped with a handful of toppings, including egg, mortadella, sausage or arugula. The fungi ($15) with miatake, hedgehogs, shallots, taleggio and truffle oil was crispy and flavorful, but, on our next visit, we may opt for the bianca with garlic oil, ricotta, grana, fennel, and rapini leaves and perhaps top with egg and prosciutto.

If you have even an ounce of room left, don’t miss the slightly warm, salted chocolate brownie ($7.50) with refreshing basil ice cream. This dish literally pops, thanks to mini chocolate pop rocks of sorts. It’s fun and ridiculously good.

Libations: As anticipated, Flour boasts an impressive wine offering (and nicely visible, oversized wine cabinet). Roughly 30 Italian wines are available by the glass, all priced between $7–$12. Bottles are also available from a variety of regions, but glass pours focus just on Italy. There’s also a full bar offering a wide-range of cocktails, beers and other spirits.

Décor: If you’re expecting something Baricelli-esque, you’re in for a shock. While the former was stuck in some type of dated pastel period from the ’80s, Flour couldn’t be further from that decade. Just by opening the door, you’re greeted with very clean, contemporary stylings of a modern restaurant with bold accents of color, mixes of rich woods and a beautiful wine cabinet as its focal point. The lounge area is ideal for dinner, cocktails or snacking and mingling after work. The open kitchen features a welcoming chef’s table and large windows throughout the 140-seat dining room. It’s a well-done and inviting space.