Chef who loves it | Dante's Dante Boccuzzi
Tender moments | Soho chef and owner Nolan Konkoski brines each batch of chicken ($17) before dipping it in a bath of buttermilk and seasoned breading then deep-frying in animal fat. "It's tough to make a good fried chicken," says Boccuzzi. "If it's brined, you have to have the right seasoning flavor throughout the chicken, so it's not just flour on the outside that you're tasting." The result is a crispy outside with meat that's thoroughly cooked and fall-off-the-bone tender inside.
Chicken little | Eating this Southern specialty reminds Boccuzzi of summer holidays at his cousin's home in southern Ohio. The childhood visits always included a fried-chicken dinner near the swimming pool. "Now that I think about it, they had chickens," he recalls. "I don't know if we were eating their chickens or not, but I know they had chickens all over the place."
Night moves | The Ohio City restaurant serves the fried chicken three ways: Mornin' Style (with a rosemary waffle and Ohio maple syrup), Late-Night Style (with pulled pork mac n' cheese and smoked cherry barbecue sauce) and Evenin' Style (with mashed potatoes, braised collard greens and sausage gravy) — Boccuzzi's preferred choice. "You get the flavor of the perfectly seasoned, smooth mashed potatoes and the deliciously salty chicken," he says. "As soon as you taste it, you say, Ahh, there it is.' "
Juicy secrets | Boccuzzi prefers eating thighs to the wings or breasts. "I always go for the dark meat," he says. "It's more juicy, in general."
Soho Kitchen & Bar, 1889 W. 25th St., Cleveland, 216-298-9090, sohocleveland.com