Marotta's expands offerings and space with new patio

Brian Linihan and Alicia Marotta Linihan on their new patio.

Marotta’s, the slender Italian restaurant located on Lee Road between Silsby Road and Meadowbrook Boulevard, opened a new patio in late August. Located behind the restaurant, the patio seats about 30 people. It has a beige roof and zip-out windows, and also features a natural brick retaining wall, LED lighting and Brazilian hardwood fences. The covering makes the patio usable most of the year, with the exception of the snow-filled winter months.

In addition to increasing the restaurant’s seating capacity, the patio is also enabling Marotta’s to expand its offerings. The restaurant is now presenting live music and hosting wine tastings on the patio. Singer-songwriter and pianist Harry Bacharach will perform there on Friday, Sept. 12, 7–10 p.m., and violinist Ariel Clayton will perform later in September. Owners Alicia Marotta Linihan and Brian Linihan are also making the patio available for private events and parties.

The Linihans opened Marotta’s in the fall of 2000, and named the restaurant after Alicia’s father, who died in 1999. “I always wanted a very intimate Italian restaurant,” she said, “one that reflected my family’s history.”

Alicia, 41, was born and raised in Cleveland Heights and has lived here her entire life. Her grandparents all immigrated to the United States from Italy, making her parents first-generation Americans. “Italian food was a staple in our house when I was growing up,” she said. “We’d always have big Sunday dinners, and all of the family would come over to eat. Everything was centered on food.”

Alicia became interested in cooking when she was very young. “All through grade school and high school, I would cook with my mother.” After graduating from Beaumont School, she enrolled in Cuyahoga Community College and majored in culinary arts, business management and food science. After graduating from Tri-C, she went to Italy and studied cooking in Florence for a year.

Her husband, 42, grew up on Long Island in New York. Brian also had a strong interest in cooking, and earned his culinary arts degree from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, R.I. He moved to Cleveland in 1995. “It was time for a change,” he said. “I needed a change from the atmosphere in New York, and I wanted to try something new.”

He got a job at Salvatore’s restaurant in Little Italy, and that’s where he and Alicia met. They got married in August 2002, and are now the parents of four children: Margaret, 8, Elizabeth, 7, Brendan, 5, and Mary Katherine, 3. The family lives in the Fairmount Taylor neighborhood, and they love Cleveland Heights. “When Brian and I got married, I told him I was never moving from Cleveland Heights,” Alicia said. “I love all of the culture here and the proximity to downtown. It’s also a great place to raise children.”

“Everything is at your fingertips here,” Brian said. “There’s gorgeous architecture, a great cross section of people, and you’re close to University Circle, where there are some of the world’s best museums and the best orchestra.”

As for their restaurant, the Linihans said the menu is based on creative dishes, many of which Brian conceives, as well as Italian-American staples. Virtually all of the food is locally grown and raised. They get organic, grass-fed cattle from a farm near Youngstown, and they buy virtually all of their fruit and vegetables at local farmers markets. “Being a small restaurant, we can be more experimental,” Brian said. “We can try different things. For example, we make our own ice cream. In addition, we do our best to make people feel at home here.”

The Linihans are delighted by the new patio. “It’s been a long time coming,” Alicia said. “We had been thinking about it for a few years, and we just needed the timing to be right.”

James Henke

James Henke, a Cleveland Heights resident, was a writer and editor at Rolling Stone magazine for 15 years. He is also the author of several books, including biographies of Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Bob Marley.

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Volume 7, Issue 10, Posted 10:31 AM, 09.09.2014