coming soon: willeyville

You could say that John Willey was the founder of the Flats (though I’m fairly certain Fagan’s, River’s Edge and Rum Runners weren’t part of his original plans).

As the first mayor of Cleveland – and real estate maven – Willey bought a section of the east bank turning it into a business and residential district. According to local history, he also bought part of Ohio City and turned it into another growing district called Willleyville, which housed a market (note: not the market).

It’s this Cleveland history, and correlation with the Flats, that led Chris and Krista DiLisi to open Willeyville, one of the first three restaurants (along with Lago and Ken Stewart’s), to open as part of Phase 1 of the Flats resurrection.

DiLisi, who was the previous head chef with Baricelli Inn and Flour, is beyond excited to be part of this rebirth, and most of all – to get back in the kitchen.

The restaurant will focus on seasonal American dishes. “Everyone says they are doing this today,” explains DiLisi. “So are we. But our focus will be on making nearly everything in-house, from scratch and

supporting as much local as we possibly can.”

DiLisi says he already has arrangements in place with Hartzler, Snowville, Miller and New Creations farms. And plans to change the menu every other week, though plans to maintain a few staples based on diner feedback.

Best of all? DiLisi is looking to keep dishes under $20.

House made doesn’t just stop at the kitchen. The duo shares that the bar will feature the majority of mixes and goods made in-house, too. The goal is to never open a can, they add.

The focus on the bar will be old meets new, paying homage to cocktails from the past and celebrating new libations of today.

Perhaps you’ve caught on to a theme by now, with the name, its origin and the bar. If you haven’t, you certainly will when you visit. They hope to create a homey yet old (way old) Cleveland feel. This notion of vintage Cleveland from the Willey era will be represented from all aspects of the restaurant, like the general store bar, to the “worn and older” banquettes. APOC and Junkyard Lighting are heavily involved in bringing the space to life.

The 3,000-square-foot restaurant will seat 86 inside and 32 out. Look for a mid June opening and for the team to serve lunch, dinner and daily happy hour specials from day 1, with plans to cater to the Browns’ home game crowd.



  • roasted peanuts, 4
  • kaffir lime◦garlic◦chilis◦cilantro◦salt, marinated olives, preserved artichokes, 6
  • chicken wings & things, sriracha verde, 7
  • ceviche, avocado◦jicama◦tortilla chips, 6

salted/ cured/ preserved

  • salumi                                                           14
  • tomato marmalade◦crostini
  • cheeses of the day              9/3 pc◦14/5 pc
  • fig jam◦lavosh
  • pate in pastry crust                          7
  • mustard seeds◦cornichons
  • potted smoked salmon                  6
  • caperberries◦onion crackers


  • minty spring pea soup                   5-cup/8-bowl
  • popped amaranth◦yogurt◦pea dust
  • open face duck mic muffin                        13
  • foie gras- duck sausage◦over easy egg◦english muffin◦sweet & spicy ohio maple syrup
  • smoked mussel poutine               11
  • fries◦tasso ham◦buttermilk bleu fondue
  • veggie rice paper roll                                  9
  • carrot◦radish◦avocado◦mint◦smashed peas◦citrus-chile ponzu
  • grilled prawns                                  12
  • preserved lemon◦pickled peppers◦crispy garlic◦evoo
  • steamed wild clams                                   11
  • garbonzo beans◦bacon◦ham hock broth
  • willey wedge salad                         11
  • mini iceburg◦oven dried tomato◦pancetta◦avocado puree◦pickled egg◦fried buttermilk bleu dressing
  • bibb salad                                         7
  • spiced walnuts◦wino cherries◦barrel aged red wine vinegar◦evoo◦sea salt
  • cucumbers &  spicy strawberries            10
  • fennel◦cottage cheese◦preserved lemon◦chili oil
  • snap peas & ricotta                         9
  • radishes◦chilis◦shallot◦mint◦lemon vin
  • roasted red beets                            8
  • chard◦butter◦malt vinegar◦smoked cheddar◦herbs


  • baked semolina gnocchi               12/18
  • pork ragu◦grana◦gremolata
  • squid ink fusilli                                 14
  • calamari◦asparagus◦garlic◦poached egg◦smoked evoo◦crispy spiced capers
  • lamb ravioli                                       13/19
  • kale◦chevre◦cheese broth◦tomato  oil
  • bucatini alla matriciana                  11/16
  • pancetta∙chili∙crushed san marzanos∙parm∙parsley


  • birds of a feather                                         20
  • duck ham & breast◦chicken◦poultry liver pate◦stone fruit compote◦whipped cilantro
  • cod roulade                                                 18
  • oven dried tomatoes◦forbidden rice salad◦tarragon pistou
  • crispy confit’d  city chicken                         19
  • carrot puree◦new potato-poblano chutney◦smoked paprika oil
  • spring lamb & marrow pot pie                  16
  • peas◦favas◦pearl onions◦carrots◦mint◦foie gras crust
  • adobo shrimp in corn tortillas                   18
  • mex-chorizo◦guac◦cilantro crèma◦crispy hominy
  • jerk  chicken                                                 18
  • black beans◦tostones◦jicama slaw
  • grass fed ohio beef- butcher’s cut                       mp
  • (priced per cut available-limited quantities per cut)
  • smoked mashers◦creamed kale◦pickled shiitakes◦parsley butter


One Comment

  1. dwirthwein
    Posted May 2, 2013 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Suggestion to Mr. Di Lisi… If the name really is pronounced “WHY-lee-vil” – as I’ve read elsewhere versus “WIL-lee-vil” as pretty much every single person will read it and pronounce it… then perhaps a long “I” symbol over the first “I” in the sign/restaurant name – would make sense. Or something on menu stressing the “WHY” aspect… I say this because nothing is worse than a customer not knowing how to properly pronounce your restaurant’s name. Or just make it “WIL-lee-vill” and call it a day, historically accurate or not…