Two culinary talents join forces on the East Side.
Paul Minnillo, chef and owner
Restaurant: Flour, 34205 Chagrin Blvd., Moreland Hills, 216-464-2700, flourrestaurant.com; open for lunch Mon-Fri and dinner daily. Visit website for hours. Previously: The Baricelli Inn, from 1985 to 2010
Paul Minnillo likes simplicity, and you'll find that in the food he's making at the modern spot he has called home since April 2011. Flames dance inside the mouth of a huge wood-burning oven that's a focal point. It churns out beautiful, wonderfully smoky 10-inch pizzas. But they are just one of the tastes from a full menu that Minnillo describes as "just really kick-ass, simple food...simple Italian food" and spans favorites such as calamari, cavatelli and lamb osso bucco. Endings and Beginnings: Minnillo split with his previous chef soon after Flour opened. "I was in the weeds. I just started calling friends to help me out for four, five, six days just to get me by." A friend suggested that he get in touch with Mytro. "Matt stayed for a week and never left." What Struck Him Most About Matt: "I could tell he had the feel, which is a gift. But you still have to be happy in the environment. You never know if it's going to click or not." On Collaborating: "We sit down and talk about menu changes and 90 percent of what Matt wants to do, I think it is fabulous. We won't put it on unless I've tasted it, cooked it." Future Plans: Minnillo and Mytro traveled to New York City together to visit gastropubs including The Spotted Pig, The Dutch and The Breslin to mine ideas for a new place they hope to open next to Flour. "We don't want to compete with what we're doing here, and that would be totally opposite."
Matt Mytro, chef
Restaurant: Joined Minnillo at Flour last fall. Previously: Consulted on the openings of various restaurants including Boulevard Blue and Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar; co-founded Stove Monkeys apparel line in 2007
Until seven months ago, Matt Mytro had never met Paul Minnillo. He knew about his role in the city's dining scene, of course, and was attracted to the idea of helping out in his kitchen. "I thought it would be a good experience and opportunity. We pretty much fell in love with each other. We just had a really good chemistry." What Struck Him Most About Paul: "Just the pure passion and the credibility of what he's accomplished. The guy is the first one here and the last one to leave." On Collaborating: "It's a pretty natural fit. Most of the time we'll discuss something, and it's thumbs up or thumbs down. If it's thumbs down, we go back to the drawing board." Simple Reminder: Mytro doesn't always hit the mark. He recalls an initial take on Flour's cavetelli dish, which included black trumpet mushrooms, lamb cheeks and a demi-glace. "It was good, but it was too rich. Paul was busting my chops the whole time: [puts on a deeper voice] 'Simple stupid. Simple stupid.' " The end result was a version featuring pork ragu, goat cheese and English peas. Future Plans: In addition to the gastropub, Mytro says the duo will begin offering cooking classes at the restaurant this summer. "We're looking forward to that."