July’s First Bite
New in Town — Pop Life
There may be no business in town where the owners’ personalities shine through more than the new Just Pop In! (6406 Cornell Ave., 317-257-9338) headquarters in Broad Ripple. The production facility, popcorn bar, and restaurant are equal parts whimsy and sophistication, just like Mandy Selke and Carly Swift, the twin sisters who founded the company in 2003. The decor is a mesmerizing mix of styles and colors, starting with a pop-art mural inspired by the lakeshore near the twins’ Crown Point childhood home and a Ferris wheel with twinkling lights. A popcorn bar up front is filled with Just Pop In favorites, including the best-selling caramel-cheddar mix, while shelves are stocked with grab-and-go selections. There’s also an outdoor patio with a fireplace, and a private space upstairs with a large dining room.
For their first foray into the restaurant business, the sisters are serving small plates in a dining room whose focal point is an expansive bar made of the wooden floors from the original building on this spot, flanked by brass bar stools with luxe teal velvet. You can order beer, wine, and fruit-purée mimosas, plus flights of popcorn (naturally). “It will be simple, beautiful food,” says Swift. — Suzanne Krowiak
Pinch of Wisdom — Eli Sanchez, bartender at Rook
“When throwing a cocktail party, make batches of mixers with just a few ingredients, like gimlets or daiquiris. Infuse an herb or citrus peel in a pitcher of simple syrup, then let guests add spirits and garnishes themselves.”
Road Trip — The Big Cheese
An old newspaper editor once told me that a small town in Indiana needed three things to be relevant: high school basketball, a post office, and a bar. After a recent visit to Pendleton, I realize that he must’ve meant a mozzarella bar.
Some 35 miles northeast of Indy and light years from Naples, Italy, Catello’s Mozzarella Bar(103 E. State St., Pendleton, 317-498-5906) on the town’s main drag is a Fiat among Fords, an eye-opening shot of espresso. Which you can sip in this 10-table cafe run by Catello Avagnale, a Naples native who landed here by way of Matteo’s restaurant in Noblesville. Toothsome pastas and plate-sized pizzas do their ancestors proud. But the big draw is the housemade cheese. Chilled orbs of burrata ooze with stracciatella and cream, stuffed mozzarella balls hold such delights as pesto and prosciutto, and fresh mozz slices—dabbed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil—are basically boneless dairy steaks. — Michael Rubino