By: Mark Spaner
Spaner Marketing Communications
In 2007, there was a crumbling, decrepit old barn on the grounds of the last farm within the Canton, Ohio city limits. The roof sagged like a sway-backed horse, and the walls looked too tired to hold it up any longer.
Ten years later this old barn was named one of the Most Romantic Dining spots in America by Open Table, a leading restaurant app. In USA Today it shared top billing with The Little Inn in Washington, a renowned D.C. area 5-Star restaurant. Stories like this just don’t happen very often.
From humble roots grow great things. It’s the story of Gervasi Vineyard and especially its showplace restaurant, The Bistro. Jerry Risner has been there since the beginning. He was a kid from the sticks outside Massillon who stumbled on a culinary career when he showed up at his trade school’s HVAC class without any tools. He tried a culinary class instead, found he loved it and a career was born. It has taken him from a 5-star resort in Charleston, South Carolina to the renowned French Laundry in Napa, California and back home to Brookside Country Club before he became Gervasi’s first chef. When he hired on in 2009 the renovation of the old barn was underway and the menu vision was fairly modest.
Today, at ten years old, The Bistro at Gervasi Vineyard is celebrated as one of the area’s finest dining experiences. The old, sagging barn has been transformed into a welcoming presence after Gervasi visitors wind their way through the scenic north vineyard. It stands stoically along the picturesque lake overlooking the environs as a proud Italian grandfather looks upon his offspring. It all started with The Bistro.
Fall Comes to The Bistro
As The Bistro grew, Jerry looked for new ways to improve the menu. He had always worked hard to form good relationships with the best farms in the local area. This led to the creation of seasonal menu items to bring special flavors to the traditional Bistro menu.
Before every new season he meets with these local farmers to find out what products they’ve nurtured, including vegetables, livestock, cheeses and fruits. Then he gets together with his staff and plans some inventive new dishes they can create with these fresh seasonal ingredients.
For fall 2019, the Gervasi culinary team has added three new menu items based on locally sourced vegetables and fruits that grew flavorful in the late summer sun and meats with succulent flavors perfect for the crisp fall season. These items will be available through the end of November.
Maine Poached Lobster Tails and Mussels, sitting atop butternut squash risotto with roasted broccoli and drawn butter.
8 oz. Angus Reserve Filet Wrapped in Local Bacon and topped with garlic butter, served with potatoes and crispy cauliflower, roasted beets and carrots.
Apple Tart Patin Dessert served with caramel gelato and allspice whipped cream.
Sundays Get The Bistro Touch
From the very beginning Jerry and his team wanted to do things a different way. Back when the entire kitchen was a couple of grills and a walk-in cooler, family style platters and a limited menu were a good way to serve 300 people a night. The family style dishes caught on, so when it was recently decided to start serving Sunday Breakfast, they figured why not do something just a bit different.
The result is a stunning menu built around Frittatas with side dishes of fingerling potatoes, house-made sausages and rosemary ham. But, Sundays deserve something extra special, so Jerry and his crew came up with Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding with Warm Pour-Over Maple Icing. On a crisp fall Sunday morning, there just isn’t any better way to greet the world.
The Bistro at Gervasi Vineyard is celebrated as one of the top restaurants in northeast Ohio, a place where people celebrate the most significant milestones in their lives. Once upon a time, however, it was just another crumbling barn. It is the magic of Gervasi that so much beauty, grace and excellence can grow from humble beginnings. It’s true of the place, the chef, the farm-grown ingredients and the Gervasi-trained staff. Capture some of the magic for yourself.
The Bistro at Gervasi Vineyard is open every day but Monday. Tuesday through Thursday 5-9 pm, Friday 5-10 pm. Saturday 4-10 pm. Sunday 11-8 pm. For reservations call 330-497-1000. To learn more and a menu, visit www.gervasivineyard.com.