In the Pretenders’ “My City Was Gone,” Akron native Chrissie Hynde laments that shopping malls have replaced Ohio’s farms and Muzak fills the air from Seneca to Cuyahoga Falls. Last October, Hynde answered her own battle cry with VegiTerranean, an Akron restaurant that blends vegan and Italian with a healthy dose of rock ’n’ roll.
The restaurant’s location in the Northside Lofts building offers an expansive view of the Cuyahoga Valley and towpath. While the exterior view is nothing but green, the interior is all rock ’n’ roll — and definitely all Hynde.
The music geek in me wanted to believe the black, sleek décor was inspired by Hynde’s signature black eyeliner, and the chain curtain separating the dining area from the café area was a nod to her punk rock days in London. The soundtrack ran the gamut from blues to indie rock to techno, not a trace of Muzak to be heard.
But enough about the atmosphere. Let’s take a moment to ponder the psychological questions raised by VegiTerranean. Can we Northeast Ohioans bury our love for meat and cheese? Will hardcore vegans embrace a restaurant that mimics traditional animal-based dishes? Can Italians handle their age-old dishes being stripped apart and reconstructed? And finally, what about those of us who desire a vegetarian lifestyle, but can’t part with our leather shoes? Can we break bread and drink wine under the same roof?