Although Mid-Ohio Valley Restaurant Week doesn’t start until next Monday, February 24th, several community members were able to get a sneak peek of what’s to come at Tuesday night’s First Course preview. In coordination with Clutch MOV, Chris Bender, owner of Davinci’s Italian Restaurant, graciously hosted many of the areas thriving restaurants in an effort to build community and spread the word about Restaurant Week. Bender was key in bringing Restaurant Week to the Mid-Ohio Valley in the first place, inspired by how it brought together communities all around the country.

“Winter is a tough time of year for restaurants – it’s cold and gloomy, everyone is still paying off their debt from the holidays, saving for summer vacations, and Valentine’s Day just happened,” said Bender. “It’s easier for corporate restaurants to make it through this time of year, but for small businesses like us, it’s a lot harder,” she explained. Restaurant Week is a way to bring the community out to their favorite local spots or encourage them to try something new, and most of all to support small local business owners in our very own backyard.

DaVinci’s Beef Wellington with Roasted Potato Medley

DaVinci’s featured their Beef Wellington; it was pink, perfectly cooked, engulfed in a robust mix of mustard and spices and wrapped in a flaky crust. If this is any indication of their tasting menu, then this definitely needs to be a stop for everyone next week.

A new addition this year is The Original Pizza Place, located in Marietta and at the Grand Central Mall. The Original Pizza Place has gone through a rebranding this year with a new logo and extensive remodeling at their Marietta location. They are excited to share not only their classics but even some new menu items like their Gluten-Free Cauliflower Crust Pizza, part of their completely gluten-free dinner option for Restaurant Week.

Antipasto Samples from The Original Pizza Place

Kasandra Ruscitto-Pritchett shares that: “We are a different option for people that want to participate [in this event], [we are] a little more casual. You’re getting a lot of food for this price, you’re getting a whole medium pizza (one of the options), so we hope it will let people bring their kids and families into this experience with them.”

The Galley, being a veteran eatery at this event, presented an appetizer from their Restaurant Week menu, that, seasonally is served as a decadent main dish. The Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brussel Sprouts, Sage and Parmesan Cream was absolutely as delicious as it sounds. Mike Lutz, chef at the Galley explained that “for restaurant week we want to make sure we’re representing our menu while still pushing things a little bit.” Each item on their menu has been carefully selected and thought through to highlight their strengths when it comes to adventurous casual-fine dining.

The Galley’s Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brussel Sprouts, Sage and Parmesan Cream

The Riviera at the Valley Gem is also a returning MOV Restaurant Week participant wanting to display their continued culinary growth. Their staff play a big part in creating the restaurant’s menu and working as a team, they decide which direction certain recipes will take, new things they may want to try, and what should stick around.

Specifically for Restaurant Week, the Riviera wanted to run specials similar to what is on their menu but tweaked regular menu items to make them extra special for the event. Their sneak peek included Lobster Mac’N’Cheese that was not only indulgent but carried a contrasting heat that kept you wanting more.

The Riviera team served up heaping portions of the decadent Lobster Mac’N’Cheese

Riverbend Family Restaurant, from Beverly, OH participated in this First Course event showcasing their incredible Frog Legs and Baked Pork Chops. These are just two of the many items on their expansive menu. It is so exciting to see restaurants in some of our smaller communities participate in this event.

Chris Baket from Riverbend Family Restaurant said they will begin serving their MOV Restaurant Week menu after 11:00 am during Restaurant Week, for those not able to make it during dinner hours. Diners excited about Frog Legs will be able to order them as an appetizer or entree, she said.

Crispy, juicy Frog Legs from Riverbend Family Dining in Beverly, OH

Although Fusion Japanese Steakhouse has been a staple in Parkersburg for over 15 years, Christina, co-owner exclaimed that they could not be happier to finally be a part of this event. Fusion will not only be featuring their fresh sushi as part of their Restaurant Week menu, but will also be offering a Bone-In Pork Loin Chop with Succulent Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts and Purple Cabbage that is beyond picture-perfect.

Lightly Battered Shrimp Tempura Roll and Spicy Tuna Roll from Fusion Japanese Steakhouse

Nathan Matheny, Owner of the Town House in Marietta, Ohio, brought their signature Spicy Buffalo Chicken Dip, one of their three appetizer options available during this year’s Restaurant Week. Finally, for dessert, the Busy Bee owner, Larry Sloter brought mini Kahlua Pies, both decadent and creamy, and are sure to please any sweet-tooth.

Town House’s Buffalo Chicken Dip Appetizer

A first-time participant in Restaurant Week, Sloter is excited about the changes happening to his restaurant in the next few months. Although having previously catered, this event is really their introduction to the community as not just a local breakfast favorite, but a spot that is able to blow your mind at dinner time too!

“We never want to lose that diner feel. Honestly, that’s the one thing that differentiates us. These are items that you’re going to find in high-end restaurants, but we’re going to be in our jeans and t-shirts and that’s how we’re going to serve you, we want to keep that vibe.”

Kahlua Cream Pie will be one dessert option available at Busy Bee Restaurant

The Busy Bee is doubling their kitchen space, working on their alcohol license, bringing all of their bread production in-house as well as creating outdoor seating. Larry says that soon they will open during First Fridays, showcasing even more of their evening culinary creations.

First Course was a huge success, bringing together business owners and managers from so many local eateries. Seeing them mingle, try each other’s food and connecting is truly what this community and more specifically this event are all about. So don’t miss Restaurant Week, February 24-29, 2020, featuring these and many more of your local favorites!