by Dan Hiner
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – When he was 8 years old, Alex Zordich would sit with his grandfather and make wine in Pittsburgh. Back in Youngstown, his family would bond over food, like many in the city with Italian roots.
“It was great,” Zordich said. “We would all get together. We’d do the crush, we’d do the press a couple weeks later. We’d have a long lunch afterwards. For me, it was just great memories.”
Zordich combined his love for food and wine to create Yosteria. The osteria, located in Cornersburg on Canfield Road, serves takeout pizzas and recently received its liquor license to serve wine.
The first wine shipment was scheduled to arrive on Friday afternoon. In approximately a month, Zordich will also receive his first batch of Yo Vino, an American Zinfandel that he made before starting his business. A Zinfandel is traditionally a dry table wine made from grapes found in California.
However, Zordich has larger goals than just his spot in Cornersburg. He wants to expand the osteria into a full Italian winery. And after trying the various products he wants to introduce, he hopes customers will take some home to share with family and friends.
“I also want to introduce everybody to the regional Italian wine and food,” Zordich said. “So we’re going to have a lot of fun introducing wines from certain regions maybe people in Youngstown don’t know about and also pair a pasta with that or a meat, a cheese.”
Zordich traveled around gaining experience before opening his location in Cornersburg. He was born in Youngstown and attended Cardinal Mooney High School, where he was the starting quarterback on the football team. He rolled his high school success into a roster spot at the University of Buffalo, where he appeared in 24 games.
After graduating from Buffalo in 2014, he began working to build his business. He traveled to Napa Valley, California, to foster his love for wine and worked out of the test kitchen in the B&O Station in downtown Youngstown. In 2018, he planned to open in the DoubleTree by Hilton Youngstown Downtown.
But in July of that year, Zoridch opted to not open in the hotel, citing high costs. After leaving the hotel, he tried to find another space in downtown Youngstown. Instead, he waited a little longer and focused on his food and wine.
He returned to Napa Valley and began working with a crew from his first stint in California. While there he started Yo Vino.
But Zordich is back home. And Yosteria is ready.
Inside the restaurant, the aromas of pizza, calzones, peppers in oil and other Italian staples fill the air. Red and green canisters of olive oil line the wall above the kitchen window, which features a giant black-and-white sign with the osteria’s name. And a large Italian flag is tacked to the wall just to the right of stacked pizza boxes.
“We’ve been able to start out with just the pizza and now we’re starting to sell the retail products and wine,” Zordich said. “It’s nice to do it bit by bit.”
With his first location set, he’s already working toward another in the Smokey Hollow neighborhood in Youngstown. His family used to live in the neighborhood, and he feels he found the right location.
One day, he saw a house owned by an elderly woman and he purchased the property from her. He is working to get the house rezoned so he can make it a sit-down restaurant. But despite the potential for a larger space, Zordich still plans on keeping the Cornersburg location.
“We’re going to start connecting all the dots with everything I originally wanted to do,” Zordich said. “And still, we have dreams for downtown as well.”
While small, Yosteria is a mixture of all of Zordich’s experiences and passions. The family meals, making wine with his grandfather and his connection to his home all blended together after working years to make it a reality.
“I’ve always loved Youngstown and I always knew I wanted to come back,” Zordich said. “But that just solidified my reason to come back. Share these different experiences, share this different culture. I kind of want to combine them both.”
Copyright 2021, AfterHoursYoungstown, Youngstown, Ohio.
Posted Feb. 16, 2021.