Yosteria Almost Ready for Expansion into Smoky Hollow

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Alex Zordich’s family roots are in the Smoky Hollow neighborhood and it is there that he wants to open a restaurant-winery.

In fact, Zordich wants to open his second Yosteria location on the property next to where his great-grandmother was born. The city’s Board of Zoning Appeals approved his request  Tuesday.

The proposal now goes before city council for final approval. If it gets the green light, work would start immediately and the new site would be open before the end of the year, Zordich said.

The Youngstown native learned the food and wine business during his travels to Italy and the Napa Valley of California from 2014 to 2018.

He opened Yosteria, a specialty pizza shop, last summer on Canfield Road in Cornersburg.

“I have a lot of Youngstown pride,” he told zoning board members. “I love what we’re doing [in the city] and I want to be a part of it.”

Smoky Hollow was a teeming neighborhood of mostly Italian immigrants in the early 20th century. It lies just east of Youngstown State University and is the home of  Cassese’s MVR Restaurant and YSU’s University Courtyard Apartments.

The rest of the area is mostly vacant lots and green space owned by YSU. The university has informed the zoning board that it does not oppose the restaurant project, said Nikki Posterli, director planning and economic development.

Zordich explained why Smoky Hollow means so much to him.

“I [could open] anywhere in Youngstown but this spot is special to me,” he said. “My entire family is from there. My great-grandmother was born in the backyard behind this property. Smoky Hollow is important [to Youngstown] and I intend to embrace it.”

Zordich bought the property at 252-254 Valley Drive about 18 months ago. Its backyard abuts an empty lot that fronts Emerald Street; Zordich’s great-grandmother was born in the backyard of the Emerald Street house that once stood there.

A two-story wood frame house stands on the site. Zordich plans to renovate the house, converting the first floor into a bar, dining room and kitchen, and building a patio outside.

He could not give a cost estimate for the project.

The original Yosteria location in Cornersburg would remain open after the Smoky Hollow site opens. “The Cornersburg store is more of a carryout place,’ Zordich said. “The Smoky Hollow location would be a communal gathering place.”

Its menu would be the same as the original location:  Roman-style pizza, calzones and appetizers.

Zordich is modeling the Smoky Hollow location after the “garage wineries” of the Napa Valley.

“In Napa, you have the elaborate wineries, the castles, but you also have the real simple ones, the hole-in-the-wall places,” he said. “Youngstowners would appreciate the tradition of a smaller place.”

Although the Smoky Hollow Yosteria would sell wine made by Zordich, it would not meet the state’s definition of a  winery, because the wine would not be made on-site.

After it opens, Zordich would begin a second phase to convert the basement into a banquet area for Italian-style private dinners. Then, he’d like to transform the second floor into a wine tasting room. “The possibilities are endless,” he said.

Pictured: Yosteria founder Alex Zordich at the pizzeria’s Cornersburg location.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.