Yosteria Brings Regional Italian Fare, Atmosphere to Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Yosteria restaurant and wine bar is now open, bringing to fruition the efforts of Alex Zordich, who launched it in 2021.

The restaurant at 252 Valley St., in the Smoky Hollow neighborhood near downtown, is now co-owned by Zordich, who developed the concept, and longtime Valley restaurateur Frank Tuscano. Tuscano most recently co-owned Pressed Coffee Bar on Lincoln Avenue until he sold his stake a few years ago.

“We have a shared vision for this place,” Tuscano said of Yosteria.

Zordich had been operating Yosteria as a place for private Italian-style dinners by reservation only on Saturdays, although it was open to the public on Fridays.

It closed in February for renovations to the building, which is an old wood-frame house. The renovations included the addition of a full commercial kitchen, two additional dining rooms and a rear patio. Zordich had previously been using a food trailer on the property as his kitchen.

A small lighted sign has been mounted on the front of the building.

Yosteria is now open to the public as a full-serve restaurant. Hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Reservations are not required. It seats 40 in its three indoor dining rooms, and about 60 more on its backyard patio and yard.

A pergola covers a portion of the back patio, with tables and chairs and picnic tables on the grass. The yard is hemmed in by a hedgerow that gives it privacy.

“It’s very peaceful back there,” Zordich said.

Yosteria offers a unique menu of traditional, regional Italian small plates, designed for sharing, as well as salads, pizza and burgers. It also has an extensive imported Italian wine list and sells its own Yo Vino brand wines, which Zordich is having made under his supervision in California.

Yo Vino wines and bake-at-home Yosteria pizzas are also sold in several Valley retail stores, including the Liberty Township Giant Eagle, Lariccia’s Italian Specialties and Rulli Brothers in Boardman and Devine’s Shop and Save in Hubbard.

Yosteria owners Alex Zordich and Frank Tuscano behind the bar in the main dining room of the restaurant.

Zordich’s great grandmother was born in a house whose backyard once abutted the backyard of Yosteria. He spent a lot of time in the neighborhood as a child and still feels a connection to it.

Smoky Hollow was once a teeming neighborhood, populated by Italian immigrants in its heyday. Today, almost all of those houses are long gone, and the area has a quiet atmosphere with grassy fields and trees.

A smattering of occupied houses remain, and the MVR Restaurant and Youngstown State University’s Courtyard student apartment complex are also in the neighborhood.

Zordich studied winemaking and cooking in Italy and later worked in both fields in the Napa Valley of California before coming back to Youngstown several years ago to open Yosteria.

The restaurant’s name is a play on “osteria,” the humble wine bars of Italy that also serve local dishes. Zordich and Tuscano are the co-chefs.

A glance at Yosteria’s menu reveals items that aren’t common in this area. Zordich relishes the opportunity to introduce the rustic Italian fare to Youngstown diners.

The backyard seating area of Yosteria.

Menu items include northern and southern Italian meat and cheese trays; bresaola, a dry-aged beef sliced over arugula with shaved parmigiano, olive oil and lemon juice; and vastiduzze Siciliane, which is fried dough topped with either caciovallo cheese, fresh mozzarella and prosciutto; or stracciatella and mortadella.

Most of the small plates are in the $8 to $9 range, although some cost more.

“If you and another person ordered two or three plates, you would be satisfied,” Zordich said.

He became familiar with osterias during his time in Italy.

“An osteria,” Zordich explained, “was originally a wine bar, a tavern, that served small plates. We are bringing that concept here. Wine is a big focus, and we will introduce people to Italian wines and wines that we are producing.”

Yosteria also offers a full bar inside and another one outside and features imported Italian beer and cocktails.

The restaurant has a staff of eight, but that could grow.

For now, it is open four days a week.

“We’d love to be open all week, but it’s tough finding employees,” Tuscano said.

In April, the co-owners opened a second Yosteria in Pittsburgh. It is at 914 Main Ave. in the riverfront community of Sharpsburg Borough.

Pictured at top: Yosteria owners Alex Zordich and Frank Tuscano.

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.