Andy's Restaurant Scorecard: Chef Jonathan Steenerson, plus scores

(WMC TV) - CHEF OF THE WEEK:  Chef Jonathan Steenerson, Ciao Bella, 565 Erin Dr., East Memphis, (901) 205-2500, http://www.ciaobellamemphis.com/

This Memphis-raised, Houston High School alumnus seemed destined to "carve" a Mid-South niche in Italian-Greek fusion cuisine.

Steenerson's great-grandfather carved beef as a butcher. Both his grandfather and his father owned restaurants. Steenerson enjoyed some of the best "home-schooling" in culinary training.

Then something happened about eight months ago.

"About eight months ago, I was diagnosed with diabetes," Steenerson said. "Since then, I've kind of been on a spiritual journey to figure out how to do good food healthy and fresh."

Since then, Steenerson has added hydroponic and aeroponic garden towers at Ciao Bella to grow his own herbs. He procures 40 to 60 percent of his produce and raw food materials from an Oxford, MS, farm, which feeds his gluten-free, wheat pasta, veggie and vegan dishes.

Like he likes to say:  not your grandmother's Italian or Greek.

"Jonathan has a black belt in preparing cabbage like 16 million different ways," said Vaughan Dewar of Memphis' FoodAwareness.org (www.foodawareness.org), a promoter of plant-based diets and practices. "Jonathan has cooked outstanding vegetarian and vegan selections for our group.

"I never actually ask for anything specific. I say, 'Whatever you want to treat us to. Do your magic tricks,' and it's always a true pleasure."

Of course, Steenerson can still help you get your beef, fish and chicken on at Ciao Bella, even if what you have in mind -- and what you want in your mouth -- isn't on the menu.

"We ask, 'Can you do something?' and a minute later, he comes back with it," praised loyal customer Jan Bunn of East Memphis. "It's wonderful!"

WHAT ANDY LIKES:  Old World Chicken Carbonara (with a fried egg!); Kobe Beef Gnocchi (with potato Parmesan dumplings!); Snapper Over Angel Hair W/Feta, Heirloom Tomatoes, Greek Oregano & Basil; Jack Daniels Canoli Milkshake.

SCORES OF THE WEEK:

Laura Lee's Lunchables, 5729 Raleigh Lagrange Rd., East Memphis, 99 on May 29

Oh My Ganache, 616 W. Poplar Ave., Collierville, TN, 99 on May 29

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, 6120 Poplar Ave., Regalia Shopping Center/E. Memphis, 97 on May 30

Howard's Donuts, 8968 Highway 64, Lakeland, TN, 97 on May 29

McAlister's Deli, 580 S. Mendenhall Rd., White Station Area/E. Memphis, 96 on May 29

Wendy's, 2554 Mt. Moriah Rd., Fox Meadows/SE Memphis, 96 on May 30

Moe's Hot Wings, 5910 Mt. Moriah Rd., Hickory Hill/SE Memphis, 96 on May 30

Dink's, 890 W. Poplar Ave., Collierville, TN, 96 on May 29

Hooters Memphis II, 2838 New Brunswick Rd., Wolfchase Area, 96 on May 31

Lenny's Sub Shop, 4970 Raleigh Lagrange Rd., Raleigh-Bartlett, 95 on May 29

Subway, 9020 Highway 64, Lakeland, TN, 94 on May 29

Chili's, 1260 N. Germantown Pkwy, Cordova, TN, 94 on May 30

Casablanca Restaurant, 5030 Poplar Ave., White Station Area/E. Memphis, 94 on May 31

Krystal, 3227 Poplar Ave., Chickasaw Gardens/E. Memphis, 94 on May 30

Holiday Ham & Turkey Co., 585 Erin Dr., White Station Area/E. Memphis, 93 on May 31

Raleigh Pizza Parlor, 2935 Old Austin Peay Hwy., Raleigh, 93 on May 29

KFC, 869 S. Third St., South Memphis, 93 on May 31

Taco Bell, 3045 Covington Pike, Raleigh-Bartlett, 92 on May 31

Sekisui Pacific Rim, 4724 Poplar Ave., White Station Area/E. Memphis, 92 on May 31

Maggie O'Shea's Irish Pub, Memphis Intl. Airport, 92 on May 30

Backyard Burgers, 849 W. Poplar Ave., Collierville, TN, 92 on May 29

Wang Garden, 9020 Highway 64, Lakeland, TN, 92 on May 29

Lenny's Sub Shop, 1016 W. Poplar Ave., Collierville, TN, 92 on May 29

Texas De Brazil, 150 Peabody Place, Downtown Memphis, 92 on May 30

Captain D's, 3057 Covington Pike, Raleigh-Bartlett, 91 on May 31

The Donut Hut, 1016 W. Poplar Ave., Collierville, TN, 91 on May 29

Bluff City Coffee, 505 S. Main St., Downtown Memphis, 91 on May 30

Fino Villa, 875 W. Poplar Ave., Collierville, TN, 91 on May 29

Texas Roadhouse, 2810 New Brunswick Rd., Wolfchase Area, 91 on May 31

Side Street Grill, 35 S. Florence St., Midtown Memphis, 90 on May 31

Arcade Restaurant, 540 S. Main St., Downtown Memphis, 90 on May 30

Logan's Roadhouse, 7755 Winchester Rd., Southwind Area/SE Memphis, 89 on May 31

Onix, 412 S. Main St., Downtown Memphis, 88 on May 30

Wayne's Mandarin House, 113 S. Main St., Downtown Memphis, 87 on May 30

Huey's, 77 S. 2nd St., Downtown Memphis, 87 on May 22

Flying Saucer, 130 Peabody Place, Downtown Memphis, 87 on May 29

Papa John's Pizza, 9160 Highway 64, Lakeland, TN, 87 on May 29

Spaghetti Warehouse, 40 Huling Ave., Downtown Memphis, 87 on May 31

Backyard Burgers, 5091 Park Ave., East Memphis, 86 on May 30

Cracker Barrel, 8000 Lowrance Rd., Southwind Area/SE Memphis, 86 on May 30

Earnestine & Hazel's, 531 S. Main St., Downtown Memphis, 86 on May 30

Rock-N-Roll Café, 3717 Elvis Presley Blvd, Whitehaven, 85 on June 1

Asiana Market, 5992 Mt. Moriah Rd., Hickory Hill/SE Memphis, 85 on May 30

New Hunan Restaurant, 5052 Park Ave., Eastgate Shopping Center/E. Memphis, 84 on May 31

Los Reyes Mexican Restaurant, 3024 Covington Pike, Raleigh-Bartlett, 84 on May 31

Tops Bar-B-Q, 2288 Frayser Blvd., Frayser, 80 on May 31

Memphis Big Burger, 1393 N. Hollywood St., North Memphis, 80 on May 31

Steak-N-Shake, 4199 Hacks Cross Rd., Southwind Area/SE Memphis, 80 on May 31

Zaxby's, 9104 Highway 64, Lakeland, TN, 74 on May 29

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