Opening soon: Elemento Neapolitan Pizza and Global Cafe. 

Originally, the pizza place in the Crosstown Concourse was going to be called Radici, Italian for roots. But trademark issues quashed those plans. So now it's going to be Elemento Neapolitan Pizza, which says owner Justin Dorroh, is a better fit. The idea of simplicity, that elemental thing, is a building block of the restaurant.

Elemento Neapolitan Pizza will, of course, focus on the Neapolitan-style pizza. Strict rules govern how the Neapolitan pizza is made in accordance with the Associazione Verace Pizza napoletana or AVPN. The rules dictate what tomatoes and cheese are used and extend to the flour for the dough. Cooking times and temperature are also key for an authentic Neapolitan pizza.

"We want to showcase what Neapolitan pizza is," says Dorroh.

To help them achieve a by-the-book pizza, Dorroh has partnered with Adrian Arcuri of Ciao Baby Neapolitan Wood Fired Pizza in Collierville.

Dorroh says he's long considered Ciao Baby a hidden gem. "It became apparent pretty quickly his passion," he says. Consider this a sort of Collierville-to-Midtown transplant. "We saw the opportunity to offer a hand-crafted product and elevate that experience," Dorroh says.

click to enlarge Authentic pizzas made according to the rigorous Associazione Verace Pizza napoletana  guidelines.
  • Authentic pizzas made according to the rigorous Associazione Verace Pizza napoletana guidelines.

The star of the show may be the two wood-fired ovens imported from Italy. They are, as of this writing, pristine white, with peaks — like giant meringues. The ovens will be on view behind a half-circle bar near the back of the restaurant.

The ovens are brick-lined within and heat up to 800-1,000 degrees and cook the pizzas in 90 seconds.

In addition to pizza, Elemento will offer salads, meatballs, gelatos, cannoli, and buratta dishes — centering around Italian buffalo milk cheese made from mozzarella and cream.

As for the locale. The site in the southeast section of the Concourse (at the front if you're on Cleveland) seems ideal. There are windows around the corner looking out to what will soon be a patio. "We bought into the vision for Crosstown and the neighborhood," Dorroh says. "We appreciate that the architecture gives us the ability to create a one-of-a-kind space."

Elemento Neapolitan Pizza is set to open in June.

Elemento Neapolitan Pizza,

1350 Concourse, 485-3004

Speaking of spaces, the Global Cafe has carved a healthy chunk out of the west side of the Crosstown Concourse's Curb Market, part of the market's "right-sizing" initiative.

The space will include a full bar and seating for about 70 with the patio. The decor will be modern.

Owner Sabine Langer says she was considering a spot down Cleveland when she heard about the Curb situation. She likes the idea of having a captive audience of folks living and working in the building. Plus, she buys into Crosstown's "better together" ethos.

Global Cafe's raison d'etre is helping immigrants and refugees. "We're not an incubator," says Langer. "They can stay as long as they like."

Langer, who is an immigrant, envisions a place that is part-restaurant and part-community center. It's a place to get comfortable and meet up with fellow expats, where patrons can feel cared for and supported. She plans to hire all, or mostly, immigrants and refugees and hang art for sale by them.

"We are really expecting a universal experience, where they can look forward to hanging out," she says.

Langer recruited three chefs — Ibti, Indra, and Fayha — for the venture. They are from Sudan, Nepal, and Syria. While the menu is not set yet, it will serve soups, dumplings, kabobs, and tabouleh.

Juan Viramontes is also an immigrant. He will serve as general manager. "One of the biggest things," he says, "is to bring focus on the freshness of the food. Even though it's fast, it's not a fast food joint. It's what mom, grandma cooked for them."

Ultimately, says Viramontes, the goal is for "[patrons] to leave with expectations and their belly filled."

Global Cafe will open in July.

Global Cafe, 1350 Concourse, globalcafe.com

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