A restaurant that serves traditional Italian and American-Italian dishes recently launched service in Fairfield as part of a renovation effort that took six months and cost more than $250,000.
Caruso’s Ristorante & Bar at 6765 Dixie Highway is the work of business partners Braheam Shteiwi and Mike Sage, with a menu inspired by their travels through Italy.
“We’ve taken time to source the finest ingredients, working with local purveyors where possible,” Shteiwi told this news outlet. “Our pizza and pasta dough are made fresh by hand.”
Popular items on the menu so far include:
• a 30-ounce wood fire grilled porterhouse steak dinner for two, cooked to order and featuring a choice of house or Caesar salads and two sides.
• a blackened salmon with saffron creamed corn and pepper relish.
• marsala bruschetta appetizer with mushroom marsala, toasted bread and parmesan.
• shrimp scampi with grilled shrimp, fettuccine, prosciutto, cream and spring peas.
• margherita pizza with marinara, mozzarella and fresh basil.
Featured is a wine list of approximately 75 bottles, which concentrateson Italian selections, but also features recognizable American brands and varietals, as well as “clean” wines.
“We worked hard to put together a diverse wine portfolio that complements an upscale dining experience, while still being cost friendly for those starting into wine,” Sage said.
Happy hour runs from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and allows guests to try eight bottles that are less than $25.
Caruso’s also offers a lineup of seven rotating taps from Brink Brewery, the winner of the Best Very Small Brewery Award at the Great American Beer Festival, along with domestic and Italian beers.
The restaurant was known for years as The Spinning Fork. Its founder, Rakan Shteiwi, died in 2016, and son Braheam Shteiwi said he and Sage rebranded the restaurant as Caruso’s as a tribute to his father, who previously operated a Cincinnati restaurant under the same name.
“My dad put his heart and soul into this place, and it’s an honor to memorialize him by bringing it back to life,” Braheam said “He’d be proud to see the work that has gone into it, and I hope to bring a sense of joy and belonging to our guests through our food.”
Caruso’s features a 2,500-square-foot renovated dining room and a newly created private dining area for small and large parties of up to 30 people, as well as business meetings that require full privacy.The restaurant’s exterior has been updated with a new paint job and new landscaping.
The renovation means the vibe at the restaurant has been “livened up significantly,” Sage said.
“The lighting, art, and wall decor is meant to be fun, with the bar having an outdoor cafe feel,” he said. “The smell hits you right as you walk in, a faint scent of wood burning from the oven, italian herbs and spices, perfect for this time of year.”
The restaurant will introduce live entertainment on Oct. 25 and Oct. 26 with live flamenco guitar from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
“We’re finding qualified staff that have helped us during this growth stage, but we’re always looking for hard working people who love food to join the team in both the front and back of the house,” Sage said.
Sage, who joined the restaurant group three years ago, operated MIA, The Silver Tee and Bourbon’s Kitchen and provide business operational oversight to the other restaurants, but do not have a hand in the daily operations.
Shteiwi, who grew up in the restaurant industry, most recently has been acting as a traveling chef at Jeff Ruby’s. He created MIA in Oxford, specializing in fine dining and offering an upscale night club. He’s also owned or operated four Gold Star Chili restaurants, The Silver Tee formerly at the Elks Country Club, a diner in Middletown and a sports bar in Mason.
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