Nora brings a fresh take on Italian cuisine

The restaurant combines Italian ingrediants with French techniques.

courtesy University Circle website

The restaurant combines Italian ingrediants with French techniques.

Aromatic herbs, dim lights and friendly smiles are the first things you encounter when you walk inside this intimate Italian restaurant. Few may remember Il Bacio, the Italian restaurant located at the corner between Murray Hill Road and Cornell Road, but about five months ago, Eddie Zalar and his wife bought the place and revamped the space into their own restaurant, Nora.

Out with the old and in with the new: The two have been changing the menus, the atmosphere and the whole idea behind an Italian restaurant in Little Italy. Before opening Nora, Zalar worked in Cape Cod, New York and Colorado for about eight years. “I was tired of cooking other people’s food,” said Zalar. With his vast experience with different types of cuisine, he is able to bring something unique to Little Italy.

“I want to combine what I learned in New York and what people in Cleveland want,” said Zalar. “I have mostly a French background but I grew up eating Italian food.” Nora is a restaurant with French techniques and Italian ingredients.

The owner works with the servers on the floor and behind the bar, and even cooks dishes with the cooks in the kitchen: There is nothing he won’t do. Additionally his mother does the pastries. “She has never worked in a kitchen before but she is very technical. She makes sure each strudel is made to perfection,”he said. “My father does all the books. He is my accountant,” said Zalar.

The kitchen only uses the freshest ingredients. The idea behind Nora is to provide people with fresh food all year long; this means that the food should change with the seasons. “We have different soups and different toppings on salad. We make sure the food is always fresh because it all comes from local markets,” said Zalar. The meat comes from the New Creation Farm in Chardon, Ohio. “This may be graphic … we make the order on Thursday, they kill the animals on Tuesday and then the meat arrives on Thursday fresh,” he said. Additionally all the produce comes from local farmer’s markets, the West Side Market or from plants grown at the restaurant itself.

“I want to give people what they want,” said Zalar. At Nora the customers are really emphasized. Students should not only go to Nora for the intimate environment and fresh food, but also for Aperitivo Hour.

Aperitivo Hour is the Italian version of Happy Hour. In Italy Aperitivo Hour is used to celebrate the happiest hour of the day. People gather around to drink, eat and talk. With Aperitivo Hour, Nora is able to bring a popular Italian idea to the heart of Cleveland’s Little Italy. At Nora, Aperitivo Hour means $5 cocktails and $5 appetizers. “We have quality food available for everyone. I want to give people what they want at an affordable price,” said Zalar.

A smile spreads happiness and so does good food. Nora’s goal is to bring the freshest food and the greatest time to the heart of Little Italy. Stop by the intimate and relaxed restaurant for a chat, drink, appetizer or full-course meal. No matter what, you will be greeted with a smile and mouthwatering scents.

Restaurant: Nora
Price: $5-$36
Location: Corner of Murray Hill and Cornell Road