Stark After Dark Cocktail Bars

When David and Dina Tozzi started thinking about opening an upscale martini bar in downtown Canton, there wasn’t much that indicated their start-up would be a success.

Picciano’s Martini Lounge

When David and Dina Tozzi started thinking about opening an upscale martini bar in downtown Canton, there wasn’t much that indicated their start-up would be a success.

They had no sign—anywhere—to indicate a martini lounge was tucked inside the Centennial building at the corner of Fourth Street and Market Avenue N in downtown Canton. Their martini menu, generally, would be priced between $8 and $12. There wasn’t a television inside, and their food menu is limited.

Early this summer, though, Picciano’s Martini Lounge will celebrate its seventh year in business.

For all of those reasons, Picciano’s is one of “THE” places to have cocktails. Let’s start with the name. Picciano is the maiden name of Dina, who has stepped away from day-to-day operations at the downtown Canton hot spot to tend to duties as a real estate agent and the family’s Magnolia restaurant, Tozzi’s.

“I’m biased, but the name is cool,” Dina said.

How did David, better known to most as Duke, and Dina make Picciano’s a hit?

Start with service. Melissa Martinez-Hutzler was hired before Picciano’s even opened.

“She was hired three years before we opened,” Dina said. “She is the best of the best. She’s the epitome of service.”

Amy Marchand is behind the bar, too. Marchand creates some of the monthy martini specials. Yes, there are Happy Hour specials and a $6 martini of the month. A newer bartender, Jessie, was working in January and met Dina for the first time. She was put on the spot by Tozzi, and Jessie created a February drink called “Love Potion.” It was so good that Tozzi incorporated it in the Magnolia restaurant.

Picciano’s is known for pouring a stiff drink. Some may wince at the price of a cocktail, but it’s big-city prices for a big-city drink.

And there are the staples.

The Secret Locket, which is made with St. Germain, a French liqueur flavored with elderflowers, top-shelf vodka and fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. The Secret Locket ($12) was created by a regular customer one night. His usual drink was Polish-imported Luksusowa vodka and grapefruit. That was until he spotted the St. Germain bottle and asked for it in his drink.

“It’s an awesome story about how one of our most-popular drinks came to be,” Dina said.

Still, Picciano’s has no sign indicating it is there. And Dina Tozzi said they do record sales year after year. The only sign that’s on the place now, though, is a for-sale sign.

Between Picciano’s and the Magnolia restaurant, four kids and real estate, something has to give. Picciano’s is listed with Putman.

“It does very well,” Dina said. “We’d just like to clear our plates a little bit. David is fine with keeping it and running it. We have an amazing staff.”

So if you’re interested in martinis, good drinks or just pouring them, Picciano’s is a good place to be when the sun goes down.

More cocktails:

M Bar

Opened in late November, M Bar is a sophisticated, stylish martini bar. It has separate sections so you can meet friends at the bar, mingle at a table or get comfortable at the couch-lined tables along the wall. With classic craft cocktails, wines and food, M Bar has something for everyone.

>>FOOD: snacks, salad towers, main plates, flatbreads and sweets

The Crush House

With a beautiful curved bar and live music often, The Crush House is a great place to have cocktails. Enjoy full bar service along with an expanded menu. Come for the drinks, and stay for the food.

>>FULL BAR: martinis, cocktails, wines and expanded beer list

Lucca

In the heart of downtown Canton’s arts district, Lucca has been serving cocktails, wines, beers and a full menu since July 2011. Open from 4 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday, the bar menu is overflowing with great choices.

>>LOTS OF OPTIONS: Try a salted pretzel martini, the Lucca Sunset martini, a pumpkin spice martini, among many other options, or opt for a wine or beer from Lucca’s lengthy list.

Gallery 121

A mix of art, wine, microbrews and small plates, Gallery 121 is a relatively new bar on the nightlife scene in Massillon. Enjoy the art while you sip some delicious drinks. Gallery 121’s libations menu is full of handcrafted cocktails—all $8 unless otherwise noted—wines and microbrews.

>>ART: Check out the art on display while you sip drinks.

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ABOUT STARK AFTER DARK

StarkAfterDarkIconDrinks with friends. An after work meet-up to dissect the day’s work. Throwing back a pint or two during the big game. Romantic moments over a bottle of fine red. Saturday night dance parties. Acoustic riffs and raucous crowds. Celebrating with a bottle of bubbly.

Whatever the occasion, Stark County’s watering holes are as diverse as their patrons.

As the sun goes down and you begin your search for killer cocktails, handcrafted selections, expert whiskey slingers or lively entertainment, let Stark After Dark be your essential guide.

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