Buon appetito! The special dishes you must try at Citilites this month

The Pastrami Short Rib dish from Citilites ($26). ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED
The Pastrami Short Rib dish from Citilites ($26). ALEXIS LARSEN/CONTRIBUTED

The 2016-17 Victoria Theatre Association season kicks off in earnest Tuesday, Oct. 18, with the return of “Jersey Boys,” the story behind the rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

Sitting through a two-hour performance works up an appetite, so planning a good meal is the foundation of what’s needed to ensure maximum arts enjoyment.

I like planning my Broadway performance meals either at home or at a downtown establishment to ensure that there are no major delays.

Thai 9, Roost Modern Italian, Jay’s Seafood, Lily’s Bistro, Salar Restaurant and Lounge, Corner Kitchen, Dublin Pub, Coco’s Bistro, Wheat Penny and the Racquet Club are all some of my pre-theater favorites.

One option that can't be beat thanks to proximity is Citilites at Schuster Performing Arts Center.

Leading the charge in the kitchen is Executive Chef Matthew DeAngulo, who has been on the culinary scene in Dayton for more than 25 years including opening Olive, an Urban Dive.

He continues Citilites’ commitment to a farm-to-table vision with relationships with more than 70 regional farmers.

In addition to a new fall dinner menu, DeAngulo and his team are serving a special Italian menu in conjunction with Jersey Boys and the opera I Pagliacci, which will have performances Nov. 11 and 13.

The special menu will feature a tossed Italian salad ($6), rotolino ($10), calamari caprese ($11), osso bucco ($28), cannoli ($6) and tiramisu ($6).

But my favorite dish by far on the menu right now is a Pastrami Short Rib ($26) that has a delicious, peppery, deep smoky winter flavor. Served alongside roasted root vegetables and mashed potatoes and dressed with a light tomato demi sauce, it is a nice twist on the more traditional short ribs dish you see on the menu frequently at restaurants, but has much more intriguing flavors. That said, the portion isn't particularly large, but you're trying to watch the theater production, not fall asleep to it and what are you going to do with leftovers anyway.

Several of the appetizers are priced right and are worth combining together or with a salad to make a meal.

The ahi tuna cups ($8) are a good value with a nice amount of tartare mixed with chipotle aioli, capers and shallots tossed with an avocado-lime puree and finished with an orange-soy sauce.

The chicken nachos ($9) served with pulled chicken, queso sauce, tomatoes, jalapenos and onions on top house-made tortilla chips are fairly basic, but delicious as nachos typically are.

The steak-frites ($12) features four ounces of herb seasoned steak sliced and served with a bag of roasted rosemary garlic fries and a shot of demi-glace.

Roasted Brussels sprouts ($9) are a perfect pairing with any dish on the menu. Tossed with a sage dijon cream sauce, sliced almonds that have been toasted and white cheddar cheese.

If you still have room after all of that, the bananas foster is the way to go.

Not surprisingly, Citilites reservations fill up fast, so if you miss the opportunity, it’s comforting to know that there are always plenty of options nearby.

If you’re feeling like you’re in the mood for Italian, Franco’s is always a sure bet and close by. Flying Pizza if it’s early enough; Spaghetti Warehouse if you’re dining with kids or in a big group; Roost Modern Italian if you want to go upscale or Uno Pizzeria & Grill that’s right across the street from the Schuster and next to the Victoria, but fills up very quickly on performance nights.

Regardless of where you go in the next few weeks, it seems locating Italian food to go with an Italian show is not going to be a problem.

Buon viaggio e buon appetito!

Upcoming theatrical performances

Oct. 18-23, 2016: “Jersey Boys”

Nov. 22-27, 2016: “Elf The Musical”

Jan. 10-15, 2017: “42nd Street”

March 14-19, 2017: “Dirty Dancing”

April 11-16, 2017: “Motown the Musical”

June 13-18, 2017: “Circus 1903”

For more information, visit www.victoriatheatre.com.
Want to go?

WHAT: Citilites at The Schuster Center

WHERE: 1 W. Second St., Dayton at the corner of Second and Main streets

WHEN: Hours vary. Citilites offers lunch Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and dinner 2 1/2 hours prior to performances in the Schuster Center’s Mead Theatre and Broadway Series performances at the Victoria Theatre.

RESERVATIONS: Call (937) 222-0623 or visit www.schustercenter.org/citilites/reservations.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: The kitchen is currently in the process of finalizing an Australian/New Zealand focused wine dinner for Oct. 27 at 6:30 p.m., which will pair five wines with food featured from those countries. Featured dishes will include a cheese course, lobster salad with finger limes, New Zealand mussels, New Zealand lamb and Lamington, a dessert from Down Under.

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