Have you been to Indy's Southside lately? Pauly's Italian Restaurant recently opened near the intersection of Highway 37 and Southport Road, and the new Smokehouse Cafe can be found at County line Road and Meridian Street. There's a new trend breaking old stereotypes about this side of town and it’s making waves and friends.
Two men have gambled big on expanding the dining and music experience for the Southside and the whole city. Paul Page Jr., owner of Pauly's Italian Restaurant, has a rich family lineage of local dining — from his start at La Scala's to his present venture. Marco Solari, manager and partner in the Smokehouse Café, started in Barcelona, Spain, and — like Page — began in the family restaurant business before coming to the States.
Both of these men share a passion for jazz and elevating the dining experience on the Southside. Page stated his reasons: "I wanted to be here to bring something a little different and show that the Southside has class and can support a place of this nature." Solari's views mirror Page's. "More than anything it was an adventure trying to do something different for the city of Greenwood, and that was the reason I started my Sunday Morning Jazz Brunch."
Page, who admits he is a closet drummer, feels that jazz is a fit for his restaurant's atmosphere and food. "Jazz culture brings a different vibe to the restaurant and gives it something that’s not going on down here. There are people who support jazz and wanted it down here. I believe with the style and the ambiance that it lends it gives the opportunity for people to hear live music in a place that they normally wouldn't get to." As for Solari, "Jazz has always been close to my heart. I have always been trying to create an atmosphere that has been close to my heart."
Both men have given young jazz artists homes to develop their skills and enhance the dining experience of their respective venues. The bands are as musically diverse as each restaurant. Pauly's launched the career of the Notemen Jazz Combo, high schoolers from Decatur Central and Franklin Central, who musically play well beyond their years. Saxophone prodigy Sophie Faught shared her views of playing their straight-ahead jazz for dining two evenings a week at Pauly's: "We tried to keep the mood of the restaurant in mind, so we wouldn't play really loud or aggressively and stay relaxed, but still keep our jazz integrity. We definitely got positive feedback from most of the customers." She added, "Pauly's is great and they have awesome food."
Marco Solari sets a different mood and time in The Smokehouse Cafe with its family-oriented Sunday Jazz Brunch. The house jazz group is The Impulse Trio. The trio's keyboardist, Kathryn Ryan, says playing a Sunday Jazz Brunch has different demands. "Sunday brunch is a different mood; people want to be able to relax. So we try to provide tunes that are going to complement what they are eating and the conversation, but at the same time we like to be challenged and stretch a little bit. Playing a little quieter will test your control ability." Ryan added, "One of my favorite things is to look up and see a group of little kids standing there watching us. It’s really fun playing in a family atmosphere, but at the same time we have had nothing but great reactions to our music and that's encouraging to us. We just couldn't be happier with this place."
Each venue is warm and comfortably innovative. Pauly's Tuscany look of multilevel dining with its vivid splashes of color complements the dining presentation. I would have to agree with Sophie Faught that the food is awesome for family dining. The Smokehouse Cafe Sunday Jazz Brunch is set in a continental ambience with designer gray walls and gold-framed original paintings from the Park Avenue Gallery throughout its abundantly free-flowing rooms. The buffet offers traditional items, but presented with a blend of Midwest and Continental accents that set it apart from most buffets — especially the unique variety that changes weekly.
If you haven't checked out what is going on, turn around and make the time to head south to Indy's new scene for jazz and dining. You will be surprised.
Week two of Animals & All That Jazz presented by IU Medical Group at the Indianapolis Zoo will party hearty with the up-front horn groove, funk and dancing jazz of Seven Pleasures Thursday, July 22. Performance times are 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The Kroger party tent is the site in the event of rain.
The popular singer of Dog Talk, Cliff White, was stricken by a stroke last Saturday and is currently hospitalized at Methodist Hospital. Dog Talk's Bill Lancton says that the Saturday, July 17 performance at the Jazz Kitchen will be a fund-raiser to benefit White's ongoing medical expenses and that numerous artists in the local music community will perform that night in this cause. Lancton added that all sales of Dog Talk CDs and shirts will go to the Cliff White Trust Fund that is being set up at Bank One. For further information log on to the Web site: dogtalk.net.
Chatterbox, 435 Massachusetts Ave. Jazz harp sounds by Jan Aldridge Clark Quartet July 16. Saxophonist Rob Dixon Quartet July 17. Sets both nights are 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Cover charge. Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, 45 S. Illinois St. Guitarist Charlie Smith Trio plays July 18, 7 to 10 p.m. Easley Winery, 205 N. College Ave. Dan Coy & Quatro Locos perform July 17, 2 to 5 p.m. Shirly Judkins & Monika Herzig play July 20 from 5 to 7 p.m. Free.
Jazz Kitchen, 54 Street and College Avenue. Rob Dixon Quartet performs July 16. Dog Talk Fund Drive for Cliff White is July 17. Sets both nights at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. IMA, 38th and Michigan Road. Summer Nights Concert with Cathy Morris & Brazilian Lounge Band, July 14, 7:30 p.m.
Pauly's Italian Restaurant, Southport Road and Highway 37. Maiden Voyage performs Wednesdays, 6:30 to 9 p.m. and Fridays, 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Smokehouse Cafe, County Line Road and Meridian Street. Sunday Jazz Brunch features The Impulse Trio, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Chuck Workman is the producer/host of the Sunday Morning Jazz Show at 107.9 WTPI.