By Mark Smesko and Michael Vallas
The place has good bones, but for some reason this Canfield fixture just hasn’t lived up to its full potential.
Now, under ownership of Mike Naffah and management by his daughter Mallory and son-in-law Jeff Padurean, the former Harry & Jean’s and Whitefire Grill is open as Scacchetti’s Ironwood Grille.
If you’ve ever been to the restaurant, you know the facility is well-appointed. It is even better now with some fresh paint, new flooring and updated lighting. The best update, however, may not be new, but something of a classic original – Chef Tony Scacchetti.
With a firm handshake and a mischievous grin, Scacchetti greeted us. “Hope you guys are hungry,” he said. “I got a few new things and some classic dishes in store.”
We started our meal with a classic appetizer, a meat-and-cheese board. The selection of imported meats and cheeses change with availability.
IF YOU GO
Where: Scacchetti’s Ironwood Grille, 6580 Ironwood Blvd., Canfield.
More info: 330-967-4800; scacchettisironwoodgrille.com
Hours: 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Our visit included Soppressata (dry salami), salami and capicola, nestled among mozzarella cheese curds, Cajun cheddar and a bruschetta cheese. These were paired with Marcona almonds, fig preserve, fresh grapes, cured olives and hot peppers. Served with rolls and crackers, this was a great starter that has something for everyone.
We moved on to one of Scacchetti’s more popular salads, roasted beets and goat cheese. House-roasted red and golden beets were served over arugula and topped with goat cheese, blood orange balsamic glaze and chopped pistachios. The sweetness of the beets paired well with the tanginess of the cheese. Peppery arugula was mellowed by the sweet glaze. The pistachios added a nice texture.
While finishing up the salad, Scacchetti came out to show us one of his raw prime New York strip steaks. Cut thick with beautiful marbling, we knew this entree would be delicious.
The steak was cooked to temperature searing it perfectly to create a nice crust. While there are several additions available, served simply in its own juices, this was a wonderful piece of meat. Tender and juicy.
With the chef being in the restaurant business more than 30 years, there are a few entrees that are his signature dishes. One that Mark remembers from his restaurant in Austintown is Filet a la Nicky.
Named after one of his children, this consists of twin filet medallions topped with crab meat stuffing, roasted red peppers and butter and sweet vermouth sauce. The stuffing is made using crab meat, bread crumbs, butter, heavy cream and a little Chablis wine. This dish is satisfying and flavorful. Just as solid now as it was 20 years ago.
Another signature dish is his pistachio-crusted salmon. A generous salmon filet is cooked on a cedar plank and topped with a sweet mixture of brown sugar, butter and pistachios. This dish was fantastic. The sweet topping was addictive on its own and paired really well with the savory fish. The cedar plank added a little smokiness.
We couldn’t go to a restaurant with a name like Scacchettis and not try a pasta dish. The chef served us his orecchiette pasta tossed with crumbled hot sausage, Italian greens and plum tomatoes in aglio e olio. The fennel from the sausage was fragrant, and the tomatoes had the right balance of sweetness and acidity. Topped with shredded Parmesan cheese, this dish was tasty, quality ingredients creating a comforting offering.
The last entree we had was something that will soon be on the menu – lobster ravioli in a basil cream sauce. It is pasta filled with lobster and cheese topped with a basil cream sauce among roasted yellow tomatoes. The sauce is similar but a bit lighter than Alfredo, and the addition of the tomatoes gives it a nice tart brightness.
Our meal ended with a sampling of desserts. The first, a flapjack cake, had a dense texture. A trio of dessert flapjacks layered with maple syrup upon a blueberry compote.
The second was a classic Tiramisu. This had the right balance of sweetness and slight bitterness from the cocoa. Light and delicious. Vallas’ wife Mary, a Tiramisu devotee, would find this a perfect accompaniment for a cup of coffee at the close of a meal.
They say the way to succeed is always to try one more time. Scacchetti’s is worth a try. Good location, warm environment, friendly service and solid food: all the ingredients needed for a success story.