A chef’s job is never done — always creating, thinking, analyzing and trying to reach new culinary heights. For James Beard Award-winning chef Jonathon Sawyer, it’s a way of life.
The 11-course tasting menu ($93) at Trentina allows him the flexibility to experiment and surprise diners with thought-provoking, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it options such as a swordfish crudo with sea bean extract, pine, leek ash, nasturtium flower and Maldon salt or a squash bucatini with goat cheese and creeping thyme blossom.
Drawing inspiration from Northern Italy’s Trentino province, where his wife’s family originates, Sawyer takes the niche mix of rustic Germanic and Italian and makes it all his own. “We’re on a similar latitude to Northern Italy, which is why you see more sauerkraut on the menu than red sauce,” Sawyer says.
While the tasting menu is a symphony of flavors, the a la carte menu is a primer into the inner workings of Sawyer’s brilliant mind. Trentino meets Cleveland in every dish from pickled vegetables foraged in the area to the slight citrus notes of the charred cabbage ($9). For the breakfast pizza ($12), Sawyer chooses a hyper-sharp provolone picante, then finishes the ’za with a salty, briny bottarga made using the yolks of local eggs.
“Trentina is the most singular expression of Northern Italian food in Ohio and beyond,” Sawyer says. “It’s undeniably ours.”
Even something as mundane as table bread ($8) gets amped up here. Basic bread is replaced with wild-fermented pane pita and an edible beef suet candle that you can use as a dip as it melts. 1903 Ford Drive, Cleveland, 216-412-2900, restauranttrentina.com