Inspired by the European cafe culture where customers can grab take-home items such as olive oil, cheese and honey or linger over small plate concoctions in a nearby eatery, two new market and cafe hybrids have popped up in Northeast Ohio. The West Side spots cater to both the serious shopper looking to stock their shelves and those wanting to let others craft a meal for them. “You can take a product home or we can put it together for you here,” says Mike Graley, owner of Vita Urbana Bistro and Artisan Market. “It gives you the chance to be the star at home as well.” We walk you through the aisles and menus of two new culinary combos.
Astoria Cafe & Market
Why we love it: This casual eatery focuses on Mediterranean staples: meat, cheese, grain and olive oil. “Olive oil can really make or break a dish,” says co-owner George Kantzios. “If you have great ingredients, you’re 90 percent there.” A 20,000-square-foot warehouse brimming with Agora Foods imports from Greece, Italy, Spain and France hides behind the 5,000-square-foot open cafe and kitchen. Its ever-changing menu focuses on simple, small plates that showcase ingredients from green lentils to Gruyere, so you can taste and then re-create the experience at home. Try it: The charred and grilled Portuguese octopus ($14) melts in your mouth with flavors of white wine, lemon and garlic. Buy it: The in-house tyrokafteri ($5) is a traditional creamy Greek dip that spreads perfectly on pita, made with fresh feta, roasted red peppers and a kick of cayenne. 5417 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, 216-266-0834, astoriacafemarket.com
Vita Urbana Bistro and Artisan Market
Why we love it: This Battery Park spot boasts a 50-seat bistro up front. Customers can start their morning by sipping fresh coffee from local brewers including Rising Star Coffee Roasters and Caruso’s Coffee, or take a lunch break to munch on beef popcorn at the concrete and wooden bar. Afterward, you can wander between walls of 100 red and white wines to find the newest creations from Cleveland Culinary Launch & Kitchen such as Peaceful Fruit’s healthy snacks to Sidekicks Salsa. You can even grab that toothpaste or dog food you forgot before calling it a night. “We cater to the major needs of the community in one smaller footprint,” says Graley. Try it: The Denver steak ($15) features a tender cut of certified Angus beef topped with warm beef butter on a bed of arugula. Buy it: Vita Urbana’s truffle honey ($11) combines sweet honey with the earthy mushroom. 1200 W. 76th St., Cleveland, 216-600-5303, vita-urbana.com