“Comfortable, approachable and ethereal” is how Johnny Coury describes the new outdoor dining area at Aqua Pazzo restaurant.
Coury, vice president of brands for Aqua Pazzo and Gia Russa specialty food company, says the goal was to create an escape.
It’s a splashy move for the area’s fine dining scene, and one that has been delighting diners. The patio – the word doesn’t seem to do it justice – had its grand opening Aug. 3.
“We feel we are doing something on a completely different level,” Coury says. “It shows when you see the excitement on our customers’ faces, their expressions as they walk on to the patio for the first time, the way their eyes light up, the wow factor.”
The patio’s layout and selection of building materials gives it a modern yet timeless atmosphere that transports guests.
“We wanted the design to feel… more coastal than Midwestern,” Coury says. “Escapism has been at the root of the design principles and it seems we’ve succeeded in that quest.”
Coury says the timing is right for the patio, which he says is a welcome respite from the coronavirus pandemic. “We all need a little escape from the harsh realities of 2020,” he says.
Acrylic glass dividers separate each table, blocking the virus in a way that is barely noticeable.
Diners have commented that they feel like they are in Malibu or South Florida, and not Ohio, Coury says.
The patio has a seating capacity of 90 to 100; that includes bar seating, which also requires reservations.
Its centerpiece is a beautifully landscaped water fixture, in which fish swim. At night, special lighting gives the patio a tropical touch.
The smooth paving stone flooring and a decorative brick side wall make it reminiscent of a villa. A pergola covers the tables, and a translucent roof structure above it lets in light while filtering out the heat.
Mural-sized photos of Italian celebrities adorn the walls, including one of actress Sophia Loren on the fireplace.
“The murals are a continuation of where we began with the interior space,” Coury says. “We wanted to capture that sense of yesteryear, that unspoiled time of Italian glamour… to authenticate the entire Aqua Pazzo brand and our wonderfully constructed menu.”
Tom Zidian is president of Aqua Pazzo and Gia Russa. Coury says that Zidian “really wanted to do this for our community.” He did not reveal the cost of the patio.
Stevie Bernier is the executive chef of the modern Italian restaurant at 492 McClurg Road in Boardman.
Although Aqua Pazzo got a late start in opening the patio this summer, Coury says it could be kept open well into the fall.
“Right now, we are having a difficult time getting all the reservations in. But we are doing our best,” he says. “We are seeing some customers, after their first experience, booking the patio again weeks.
Pictured: The Aqua Pazzo patio includes a water feature that separates dining areas.