Newly opened Antica focuses on simple Italian cuisine in Avon (photos)

AVON, Ohio — Antica Italian Restaurant + Bar focuses on the simplicity of Italian cooking.

“A lot of the highlights on this menu will be familiar to most people,” said chef Josh Septoski. “All of our dishes on the menu have five to six ingredients at most. They’re very simple. We source heavily from Italy but also as local as we can possibly get.”

The modern restaurant, which opened in July, features roasted vegetables, seafood entrees, pizzas and pastas on its menu. Standouts include a whole-roasted branzino, veal saltimbocca and a chicken parmesan “pizza,” where chicken takes the place of dough.

The chef makes pasta by hand — drawing on his experience studying pasta-making in Bologna, Italy, from 2014 to 2015. Prosciutto, tomatoes, cheeses and meats are sourced from Italy, whereas other ingredients like vegetables and lamb are sourced from local farms, Septoski said.

“Our menu is ever-changing with the seasons,” Septoski said. “We don’t typically try to shoehorn ingredients that we cannot use in season. We want to honor the seasons and what we can get from our local purveyors, but at the same time I don’t want to be unable to source something that maybe came from overseas.”

Septoski leads the kitchen in the new restaurant owned by Fadi Daoud, the owner of Heck’s Cafe and other restaurants in the Greater Cleveland area. Antica is within eyesight of the Avon location of Heck’s Cafe, nestled in the MarketPlace at Avon (near Avon Commons) at 35568 Detroit Road. (Heck’s Avon location is at 35514 Detroit Road.)

The restaurant takes over what used to be Piccolo Italian, a restaurant that closed last spring during the initial restaurant shutdown and never reopened, Daoud said.

“We’re already in Avon at Heck’s, so I know the market,” Daoud said. “People are craving something new, something different, especially on the West Side.”

That taste for something different translates into Antica’s mod, upscale menu, organized into categories including “antipasti,” “insalata + zuppa,” “verdure,” “pizza” and “secondi.” A drinks menu includes a strong selection of Italian wines.

“Simplicity is key in this cuisine,” Daoud said. “Italian food is known to be simple, and simple food is the best. So we keep it simple, just focus on ingredients and freshness and that by itself… you end up with a really good product.”

Daoud renovated the interior of Piccolo, opening up the space and adding modern designs in black, white, gold and gray. A few Instagrammable spots feature an angel wing mural, neon lights over a greenery wall and a pattern of faces on an exterior face of the building. Antica’s large patio accommodates guests during warmer months, and a side party room can be rented out for private events.

Antica is a new addition to a cluster of local restaurants the MarketPlace at Avon. Antica is next door to Heck’s, Mitchell’s Ice Cream and Melt Bar + Grilled. Daoud is hopeful that the area will continue to shift toward more local industry, making Avon a food-lover’s paradise.

“I call it a ‘local collection,’” Daoud said. “We want to draw people into Avon as a dining destination, not just shopping.”

Find more information about Antica at anticacleveland.com.

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