Restaurants opened by celebrities aren’t exactly a rarity these days, and with the glamorization of the food-service industry, it’s not surprising. Many chefs are now full-blown celebrities who have their own television shows, complete lines of merch, and obsessive fans. With the blurred lines between chef and superstar, it only makes sense that the door opens the other way, too, and that singers and actors have been able to dip into the restaurant business. Puffy, Usher, Ashton Kutcher, Bruce Willis, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake, just to name a few, have all dabbled in restaurant ownership. Sure, some have been less successful than others, but they have all tried.
Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders is yet another musician to try her hand in the restaurant business. She recently opened the Italian-vegan eatery The VegiTerranean in Akron, Ohio, and I planned a recent road trip through the Buckeye State to include a stop at Chrissie’s new restaurant (and a few other spots in the surprisingly vegan-friendly state, but more on those later).
Before you even walk in the door, you can tell that VegiTerranean isn’t your stereotypical vegan restaurant. The floor-to-ceiling windows exposed a modern and sleek, yet comfortable, interior. And the food was just as impressive.
To start off our lunch, my husband and I ordered hot Italian banana peppers filled with fresh herb risotto and soy mozzarella, which is topped with a fresh basil lime sauce. They were the largest banana peppers I’ve ever seen and some of the spiciest.
For my entrée, I ordered the classic vegan Caesar salad topped with caper berries, smoked dulse, house-made croutons, and rawmesan, and I added grilled vegan chicken. The smoked dulse adds a depth that is normally lacking in vegan Caesar salads.
Justin had a hard time choosing between the many delicious sandwiches but finally settled on the roasted eggplant and spinach muffuletta, which is served with a Tuscan cole slaw. I know these items sound like typical lunch fare, and in a way they are, but what sets The VegiTerranean apart is that it takes common Italian-inspired dishes and prepare them very, very well. Surprisingly well.
You may not see Chrissie at the restaurant—I didn’t—but if you’re ever in the Akron area, I suggest popping into The VegiTerranean for a delicious lunch or dinner.