Cheese and crackers? Absolutely not. Sauerkraut balls? No way. You’ll never find such mundane offerings on the appetizer boards Bistro 83 executive chef and general manager Tony Martorello prepares for guests at home or in his upscale-yet-laid back North Ridgeville establishment.

“Meat and cheese boards are really hot right now,” he says. “We develop, tweak and taste everything we make here before it passes muster on the menu.”

The same goes for what Martorello and his wife Faith serve during gatherings with family and friends.

“We make sure our boards have a little something for everyone,” he says. “When I build one, I always include three very different cheeses — soft, hard and something in-between.”

His go-to favorites: Beemster Classic, an aged gouda hard cheese known for its robust nutty and buttery taste; Purple Haze, a soft variety made of goat’s milk with hints of lavender and fennel pollen; and a smoked cheddar that’s a natural go-between.

Martorello is also meticulous about selecting specialty meats for the ideal accompaniment. His shopping list always includes mildly spiced ghost pepper and wine-infused cabernet salamis, as well as prosciutto, from Zoe’s Meats, available online through the company’s website or at local specialty supermarkets.

The finishing touch: Accoutrements ranging from smoked almonds, dates and fig jam to a combination of warmed Castelvetrano olives — known for their meatiness — and earthy Red Cerignola olives.

“I think of an appetizer board as an introduction to the meal you’re preparing to serve,” Martorello says. “And if you’re invited to an event at someone’s home, it has the potential of being the perfect icebreaker.” 

Bistro 83
36033 Westminister Ave., North Ridgeville

440-353-2828 •