Friday, March 21, 2008

Rosetta Stone Cafe Revisited, Dog See's God, Dinner and a Show

It's Friday blogger friends, and that means a new "Accent On Youngstown" will be up by 5pm this evening. This weeks guests are; Randall Craig Fleischer, conductor of the Youngstown Symphony, George Mager, of Cafe Cimmento here in Youngstown, and our very own Danny Mizicko, and some footage from his own Extreme Sports production company, "Stuck In Ohio". Tell your friends and be sure to call me if you want to be a future segment on our webcast.

Last night I was able to see our friend Brooke Slanina and her Oakland Theatre Gang perform their latest play, "Dog Sees God". More on that in a sec, but I started the evening with dinner at Rosetta Stone Cafe, and had a nice chat with the owners and found out that they are a little disappointed that my mixed review of their restaurant is still showing up close to their website when you google them. That's definitely understandable, and even though I thought my two-part review was very fair and acurate, as I said in them both, I am always rooting for Downtown Youngstown businesses, and have always been rooting for the Rosetta Stone. In fact, I am actually a regular enough that one of the waiters knows my favorites already, and the manager recognizes me and is very cordial each time I come in. Let's hope that this follow-up piece goes above my last review in google, because the owners really have made some great strides in the short time they have been open, and are learning more and more each day.

I am very pleased they have expanded the dinner menu, and although it is not updated on their website yet, I am sure it soon will be. The nightly specials are a treat as well. I also don't see the hostess that I thought was not a good hire around, and the rest of the staff is as courteous as always and have really been getting into a groove themselves. I have tried more options on the menu and I am still a great believer in their food as I always was. I still disagree with some of their presentations, but at least presentation doesn't take away from food quality.

The stage in the back of the restaurant has been put to good use the last few times I have been in as well. I have enjoyed a couple great trio's bringing jazz and blues and some soft fusion, and they have a Friday night regular that has a great rapport and sound. They are adding more musicians nightly it seems by the board out front, and I think that should be a big draw as word gets out. Their still does not seem to be enough diners coming in yet to make me feel entirely comfortable as an owner, but they have had to turn people away for some of the more popular shows at the DeYor Centre, and I find that very encouraging. As the first few weeks of my initial reviews turn in the first few months of the restaurant being open, I do think they have what it takes to make it work, and are improving daily. I still think their dinner menu without sandwiches and lighter fare make it a bit steeper climb than it needs to be, but I am much more confident that they will see it through.

It was good to talk with the owners last night. They showed they are open to criticism, but really believe in themselves and have a vision for the future. I found they are not just leasing the storefront, but have the entire building available to them and have plans for the basement up to the rooftop, four floor above. As I said, my first two reviews I don't feel were overly negative, nor do I want this one to be totally positive as if I am sucking up to the owners. They have made some great strides since opening, but they still have some challenges on the table and ahead. However, after seeing the improvement first hand over the last 5 or so weeks and getting a better feel of the direction from the owners themselves, I continue to wish them well and make the Rosetta Stone Cafe a major force in the revitalization of Downtown Youngstown.

"Dog See's God, Cofessions of a Teenage Blockhead", is the latest production of the Oakland Theatre in Downtown Youngstown. A parody based on the Peanuts comic strip, the names have been changed to protect the animated, and they are about 10 years later, all facing their teenage years with the angst, turmoil, and new use of the english language, (the F-bomb drops like the rain in April), that haunts all of our lives around that time. I have lot's of experience in restaurants, so I don't mind reviewing them, but I will leave theater reviews to the experts, lets just say I really enjoyed this production. I was expecting a lot of humor, and there was definitely a liberal amount thrown in, but it definitely had it's somber moments, and the ending, though extremely gratifying, did NOT leave you laughing.

The casting was excellent with each cast member with maybe the exception of "matt" (ie: pigpen), having some shining moments. The actor who played Matt was fine, just no great scene written for him. My two personal favorite scenes were the dramatic interpretation by "CB's Sister", and the scene with CB and "Vans Sister" (ie: lucy). The writing wove familiar memories of the peanuts gang throughout the show, exhorting chuckles and full our guffaws from my audience with each glimpse of recognition. Stand out actor has to be "CB" (ie: Charlie Brown) portrayed by Gary Shackleford, but fine performances was given by the entire cast with special recognition to Greg Mocker as "Beethoven" (ie: Shroeder) and Amato D'Apolito as "Van" (ie: Linus turned hilarious stoner). Brooke Slanina shows she is capable on either side of the fence, performer and soon to be President of the Executive Board of the Oakland. Brooks portrays "Tricia" (ie: Peppermint Patty) as definitely a Tomboy no more. As I said my two favorite scenes were by Alecia Sarkis as "CB's Sister" and Suzzane Shorrab as "Van's Sister) As I said although Ric Panning as "Matt" has a critical plot set-up, he and Denise Glinatsis as "Marcie" (ie Peppermint Patties friend Marcy) give fine performances, but really have no stand-out scenes, (well okay, Marcies soliloqui? on the spork was hilarious,) which if you think about it, fits the play well because their characters were not stand-outs in the comic strip especially either.

So I recommend seeing "Dog See's God" in this last weekend of performances very highly. Performances will be Friday and Saturday, March 21/22 at 8pm, and a Sunday matinee at 2pm. The Oakland theatre is located at 220 W. Boardman Street in Downtown Youngstown. Tickets for the show are only $15 dollars and it is worth your money so head on down there this weekend. You will enjoy it....I did.........Scott

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