Kristina Grappo opened her homemade pasta business Viola’s Pantry in a 500-square-foot space at Cleveland Corner, 156 N. Cleveland, in November, and at the time she said she eventually hoped to add an Italian market to her business.
Seven months later, she’s on her way to doing just that, and thanks to continued customer requests, she’s going to do better.
Grappo has just taken over a second 500 square foot space that adjoins its current boutique, and soon it plans to turn it into a specialty store selling imported Italian products like olive oil, sauces, pasta without gluten and vegan, antipasti, risotto, polenta and Italian wines.
But she’ll also use the space to add an espresso bar and restaurant offering “everyday Italian” fare for breakfast and lunch.
Grappo hopes the addition will be ready to open by the first week of July.
The space she occupies isn’t the one just vacated by Grow, the hip plant store owner Heather Giesen will be opening in a new location (with a bar) at 320 S. Market. later this month. Grappo instead picks up a section from Cleveland Corner owner Janelle King’s The work room which previously housed jarred foods and other products.
The restaurant and market will occupy the same space, and Grappo said it expects to have room for two four-foot tables inside that can seat about 10 people in total. She also plans to use the large outdoor patio used by Viola Pantry’s former occupant, King’s Birney’s Snack Shop. It has room for about 10 tables.
“I love this patio,” said Grappo. “I feel like it’s criminal not to have something to activate this patio space.”
The restaurant menu will include four dishes at breakfast and four at lunch.
The breakfast menu will include maritozzi rolls, which are brioche rolls split and filled with things like Nutella and fresh fruit. It will also offer gluten-free pancakes with lemon and ricotta, a green salad made with pancetta and egg, and toast made with homemade focaccia bread.
At lunch, Grappo will serve a meatball sandwich on maritozzi bread, a marinated grilled vegetable sandwich, a prosciutto sandwich on focaccia and a tomato bisque.
The espresso bar will offer a full range of espresso-based coffee drinks, and once its liquor license is confirmed, Grappo will allow diners to purchase bottles of wine from the market and enjoy them with their meals. She will also have beer available.
Grappo grew up in an Italian family and she launched Viola’s Pantry in 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic dampened her marketing consultancy business. She started selling her pasta at the Old Town Farm & Art Market, then took over Birney’s Snack Shop space, where she sells her freshly made pasta for people to take home and cook. She also occasionally sells prepared foods.
Grappo, who will offer cooking classes at Viola’s Pantry, said her growing clientele constantly asks her if she’ll ever add a restaurant to her space. She finally decided she was ready.
“There just aren’t many places to have breakfast or lunch in this part of downtown,” she said.
Stay tuned for an opening date for the Viola’s Pantry addition.