Tasting Stark, one yummy restaurant at a time

Running a successful restaurant takes hard work, high standards, grueling hours, bursts of creativity and a dedication to customer service. Not surprisingly, many close after fewer than two years in business, so it’s cause for celebration when a locally owned eatery thrives. Such is the case with many of the restaurants featured in the early months of About magazine.

Running a successful restaurant takes hard work, high standards, grueling hours, bursts of creativity and a dedication to customer service. Not surprisingly, many close after fewer than two years in business, so it’s cause for celebration when a locally owned eatery thrives. Such is the case with many of the restaurants featured in the early months of About magazine.

We started restaurant reviews in our second year of publication. Two of the restaurants are no longer with us — the First Ladies Tea Room and the Blue Olive, both in Canton — and one, Blake’s Cafe and Cupcakery in Green, has a new owner.

But most of the featured restaurants and owners still are welcoming customers. We checked in to see what changes they’ve made in the intervening years.

OLD CAROLINA BARBECUE COMPANY

food_carolinaWhen we first featured Old Carolina Barbecue in 2009, there were two local restaurants. This March, owners Brian Bailey and Tim Hug opened their seventh.

They’ve also launched a new venue — a restaurant called Baja Pizzafish.

“The cuisine for Baja was born from the Q Schools featured in About magazine,” Bailey said. “In our Creative Grilling classes, we taught students how to make pizza on the backyard grill, and introduced many Stark Countians to fish tacos.”

Bailey admits the quirky name caused some initial confusion.

“People were afraid they might get pizza slathered in cod,” he said, chuckling.

The menu at the seven Old Carolinas has remained primarily the same, with the handrubbed, slow-roasted pulled pork still the top seller. They added smoked turkey and a dessert option called Boardwalk Bites.

“It’s a tribute to Britt’s Donuts in Carolina Beach, N.C. They make hot fresh doughnuts — they like to say Krispy Kreme stole their style,” Bailey said. “Ours are deep-fried, served hot in a bag with cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar. You shake them up to coat them.”

Old Carolina now serves Cheerwine, a wildly popular cherry cola that originated in North Carolina. Bailey said Cheerwine is the No. 1-selling soft drink at all seven locations.

Catering continues to be a major part of Old Carolina’s business. Bailey said they catered 120 weddings last summer alone.

OLD CAROLINA
Locations in Canton, Akron, Cleveland areas, including the original at 2482 Lincoln Way E, Massillon. 330-833-9030
www.oldcarolina.com

HART MANSION

food_hartIn a business in which staff changes are routine, remarkably the faces at Hart Mansion are the same as when we first visited. Chef Charles Rollins still runs the kitchen, pastry chef Mark Zimmerman continues to produce gorgeous, decadent desserts, and Vicki Phillips, niece of owner Pat Miller, still manages the historic site.

There have been menu changes, but thankfully the popular orange roughy stuffed with crab cake still is available.

“We’ve added crab al forno — a penne pasta with four-cheese sauce and jumbo lump crab,” Phillips said. “It’s basically a fabulous mac and cheese. To die for.”

Phillips also praised the new pork medallions with caramelized apples and pecans, and the tilapia with sambuca cream sauce.

The most noticeable change is the addition of an outdoor patio to the hilltop site. The patio with pergola opens this month for the first time, and will be the site of a June wedding.

HART MANSION 411 N. Main St., Minerva 330-868-4278
www.hartmansionrestaurant.com

BOMBAY SITAR

Long a favorite with vegans, vegetarians and those seeking wheat-free dishes, Bombay Sitar now has an additional attraction.

“We now have a liquor license, and are serving some very good mixed drinks,” said owner Ragbir Singh. “It’s very popular. We have drinks like Bombay Tea, Bombay Sunrise, Bombay Sunset and Mango Sitar.”

A new item on the menu is Gobi Manchurian, a deep-fried cauliflower with onion and bell pepper. Singh often offers the cauliflower dish and other new items on the lunch buffet Friday or Saturday so customers can try them out.

BOMBAY SITAR 4633 Belden Village St. NW, Jackson Township 330-493-0671
www.bombaysitar.com

GYRO DELIGHT

food_gyroSince first appearing in About magazine, owners Alicia and Emmanuel Gyparakis have added a dining room to their casual eatery.

“It seats about 60 people,” said Emmanuel Gyparakis. “We still are doing a majority of carryout, but we’re getting more and more eat-in, people using the dining room.”

The gyro salad featured in the magazine is still the top seller, followed by the gyro sandwich and the gyro platter for two, which Gyparakis calls “a great value.”

“It’s two pitas and gyro meat for two, Greek salad and a side of rice or fries for $9.75,” he said.

The menu has remained the same, but Alicia is working on adding more Greek specialties to the selection.

GYRO DELIGHT 2929 Lincoln Way E, Perry Township 330-837-7766

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass