Salazar

Jose Salazar may be in the throes of planning Salazar part deux (slated to open this summer) but we’re still smitten by his eponymous 45-seat restaurant on Republic Street. Open for just over a year, it still can require a long wait, and service staff can be pushy on the table turn. What keeps us coming back is Salazar’s meticulous attention to detail and sheer dexterity, a product of his culinary upbringing in the kitchens of Thomas Keller and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

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Pig trotter

Whether he’s designing a room or filling a plate, this chef-owner knows how to harmonize. Classic Thonet-style bistro chairs mingle with industrial bar stools while stark white china joins rustic stoneware (hand-thrown by Northern Kentucky potter Bethany Kramer) on the tables. The food follows suit: grilled octopus slick with butter and curled around potato gnocchi is a slow, precise waltz, while the 10-ounce Angus rib-eye is more like a no-nonsense breakdance. The cephalopod is braised for four hours, marinated overnight and quickly seared. In contrast, the steak gets seasoned with nothing but Diamond Crystal kosher salt and black pepper before hitting the plancha. This ability to layer flavors without upstaging the ingredients is what makes Salazar’s solo debut such a chart topper. We’re eager to see how his sophomore effort stacks up.

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Photograph by Jeremy Kramer

1401 Republic St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 621-7000, salazarcincinnati.com

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