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Cleveland Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations


crispy
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Hey, Kristin! Weren't you back in town last summer as well? I seem to recall a fizzled attempt at an eG meet-up around that time. :sad:

I carry my dog-eared copy of C.E.E. with me even when I'm out of town. I get a lot of comments from people who notice what I'm reading. Occasionally the snide "Oh, you're from C L E V E L A N D" sort of remark, but more often genuine interest.

If you can venture as far west as Tremont, one highly-anticipated opening is "Lolita", in the former location of Lola Bistro. It's so new it isn't even open yet. :wink: (Should be by the time you're in town). It's supposed to be more casual and more "ethnic" than Lola was/will be. Mediterranean theme. I'm looking forward to it.

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Kristin - I would love to get to meet you in person! We had a Food & Wine Forum dinner at Carrie Cerrino's last night, and someone there said she went to the opening of Lolita and it was wonderful.

There is a "can't miss" item now in Cleveland that isn't in Ethnic Eats (I don't think; I don't have the current one) - Blue Egg Ravioli at Carrie Cerrino's! The Blue Eggs are provided by the Blue Egg Farmer, Kathy Breychak, and they are natural and fresh laid by heritage chickens raised with love and the outdoors. (www.breychak.com).

This dish was described by a fellow diner as follows: Exquisite, beautiful large handmade ravioli, filled with a very fine ricotta mixture, topped with one very golden, perfectly soft-cooked egg yolk, its rich golden-ness that could be seen through the translucent pasta envelope. This is a dish that must be immediately "broken into" right when it's served, to experience the perfectly cooked yolk at its peak of flavor and done-ness. The yolk mixes with the cheese, olive oil and sage leaves to form an addictive sauce!

BER are made to order, and are available the first Friday of each month. Forty people from the FWF gathered last night to celebrate their addition to the "regular" menu, and despite a 3 hour power failure immediately preceding our dinner, Dominic and his wonderful staff pulled it off.

Sorry to be so long - but the short of it is, don't miss this! And, all of the other food at CCs is made from scratch and delicious (I had Copper River Salmon - melted in the mouth, with house made pasta and sauce). www.carriecerinos.com.

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Lolita is open now? Cool! I swear I checked the lolabistro site before posting and the home page still had the "Lola will close in April..." message. I see it's been updated now.

As for the blue eggs, I've been buying them for a while now thanks to a post by Nancy in another Cleveland thread. They really are awesome (and they really are blue!). Carrie Cerrino's isn't in the current edition of C.E.E - maybe someone could contact Laura Taxel about it. Her email and address are in the back of the book under the heading "Tell me where to go!".

A question for Nancy: you mention that the Blue Egg Ravioli has been added to the "regular" menu, but you also said it's available on the first Friday of the month. Is that the only time it's available?

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I have checked out all of the websites you have listed!

Carrie Cerrino's sounds wonderful, but North Royalton...?? :hmmm:

If you say it is that good....

would you recommend lunch or dinner?

Lolita sounds like a perfect place for a get together..

hint

hint

:biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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oh yeah I was in Cleveland last summer as well, but it was only 3 1/2 weeks and I spent a week of it in Boston so I didn't get to all the palces I wanted to get to. :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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how about some fresh caught lake erie perch.........

or walleye..........

find some good local kielbasa........

sweet corn.......

and the fresh fruits of the summer....plums, peaches, apricots..........

you know....

how can it get better than that............

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I have checked out all of the websites you have listed!

Carrie Cerrino's sounds wonderful, but North Royalton...?? :hmmm:

If you say it is that good....

would you recommend lunch or dinner?

Lolita sounds like a perfect place for a get together..

hint

hint

:biggrin:

We'll come in from Toledo for that! Just give me enough time to get a sitter.

Danielle Altshuler Wiley

a.k.a. Foodmomiac

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A question for Nancy: you mention that the Blue Egg Ravioli has been added to the "regular" menu, but you also said it's available on the first Friday of the month. Is that the only time it's available?

BER used to be strictly a "special advance order" item. Now, they are "on the menu" for dinner the first Friday of every month. In addition, if you email the owner, Chef Dominic Cerrino, in advance, he may be able to provide BER at other times (especially if a group is involved). The biggest problem with making BER a regular daily menu item is that the supply of Blue Eggs is never certain from week to week; also, they are very labor intensive to make and serve. I dined there within the last three weeks with two different groups on Thursdays, and we had BER, but we requested them in advance. Chef Dominic's email address is accessible through CCs website, www.carriecerinos.com.

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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I have checked out all of the websites you have listed!

Carrie Cerrino's sounds wonderful, but North Royalton...?? :hmmm:

If you say it is that good....

would you recommend lunch or dinner?

Lolita sounds like a perfect place for a get together..

hint

hint

:biggrin:

I am pretty sure that they only offer BER at dinner. You can have it for appetizer or entree, so long as the power doesn't go out! Last Thursday, we had a 40 person group scheduled for 7pm and at 4:30, the high heat/humidity/Air conditioning factors caused a power failure in North Royalton. Dominic was beside himself, but held his staff there (even after a 30 person party walked out at 6pm, and you couldn't blame them) and said he would wait until 7:30 before giving up on it. We socialized in the parking lot until the power came back on, just after 7pm. The kitchen people scrambled to get everything back "up" for dinner service. Dominic only had enough BER made for appetizers before the blackout hit, but with organic free range pork and Copper River Salmon available for entrees, I don't think anyone felt deprived! Dominic, claiming he needed to buy more time for the kitchen, even gave us a demonstration on fileting a 30# Copper River Salmon!

As for Lolita - I would love this! I've been hoping the Cleveland aspect of this forum would perk up a bit so I could meet some of you!

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Hey Torakris! Welcome back to Cleveland! Here's my imput:

New additions:

Blue Canyon in Twinsburg. It's getting alot of good reviews, and I don't know why. Ive been there twice, once for lunch and once for dinner, and everything was either average or below IMHO.

Not really new, but XO in the Warehouse district changed into an upscale steak house. Pricey, but decent is what I've heard. A couple of other higher end steak houses popped up, as well. Had a chance to go to one of them a couple of weeks ago. It's called Red, and it's in Beachwood right next to Moxie. Had a good dinner there.

The big news is the closing and reopening of Lola and the addition of Lolita. Haven't talked to anyone who's been to Lolita yet, so I can't say anything about it (although I suspect it will be great).

House of Blues is new to downtown. Had some drinks there, saw a band, but didn't eat. Food looked alright, though.

There's others, but I'll move on.

One of the best Gelato places in Cleveland is right in Cleveland Heights. La Gelateria is on Cedar Rd near the corner of Cedar and S. Taylor Rd. Really great gelatos and sorbetos in a variety of flavors. All this, and they're open until midnight on the weekends. Mmmmm...gelato.

A nostalgic pick for Ice Cream is Honey Hut. They have a few locations around the west side. I grew up near one, and we would go there after baseball games and such. Besides the nostalgia, their ice cream is pretty good too.

al Fresco dining? hmmmm... Depends what you're looking for. I like The Metropolitan in the Warehouse district. It's right on a busy corner and is great for people watching. Lure Bistro has a good outdoor patio and bar (plus they have free sushi on Tuesdays). If you're looking for something more peaceful Gamekeeper's has a great outdoor courtyard. Blake's Seafood Grill in Chagrin Falls has a wonderful view of the falls. Something more casual could be The Harp on the Cleveland/Lakewood border. It's deck looks right out over Lake Erie and they serve one of the best pints of Guiness in town.

I'm kind of curious about this talk about Carrie Cerino's. Last time I was there (which was several years ago), it was your typical spaghetti and meatballs joint. Good, but not great. Also, the average age of the other diners was 65+. Has it really changed that much?

Anywho, if you have any other questions Tokakris, let 'em rip. I'll try to help.

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Blue Canyon in Twinsburg. It's getting alot of good reviews, and I don't know why. Ive been there twice, once for lunch and once for dinner, and everything was either average or below IMHO.

:biggrin: I've been to the Canyon a several times. Though we had some service issues on the first visit, the food has always been outstanding, and once the management became aware of the service issues, they bent over backwards to make it up to us.

A couple of other higher end steak houses popped up, as well. Had a chance to go to one of them a couple of weeks ago. It's called Red, and it's in Beachwood right next to Moxie. Had a good dinner there.

:smile: Had a great dinner at Red, also you can't go wrong at Moxie.

out over Lake Erie and they serve one of the best pints of Guiness in town.

I'm kind of curious about this talk about Carrie Cerino's. Last time I was there (which was several years ago), it was your typical spaghetti and meatballs joint. Good, but not great. Also, the average age of the other diners was 65+. Has it really changed that much?

:biggrin: I've lived in Cleveland for over 9 years, and had never been to CCs until I heard about the Blue Egg Ravioli. Since I've become enamoured of the place, I've talked to a lot of native Clevelanders who say the same thing that you did, Ragallach! I'm not sure how long Dominic has been in charge of the kitchen, but it hasn't been more than a couple of years, and it is Dominic's vision that has made all the difference. All of the pastas, sauces, breads and dressings are house made, and they are using organic chicken and the heritage pork product. The other thing about CCs, which we really saw last week when the power went out, was how the "help" is treated as family, which makes a huge difference in the way they treat you as a customer.

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Actually, the only saving grace at my two visits to Blue Canyon was the service. On our second visit, which was dinner, my wife and I ordered a couple bottles of wine. It was kind of obvious that the server didn't know that much about wine, but she talked with us about what we were drinking and we even let her have a small glass of each (she was working, after all :) ). She was very charming, and when things started going wrong with the food she took care of business swiftly and gracefully. I really don't understand the 'outstanding' food, though. I was very underwhelmed both times. Maybe my expectations were too high.

I know a guy who knows a guy who works at Carrie Cerino's (who might actually leave there and come work with me) who has been saying nice things about CC, but I kind of laughed it off. I guess I'll have to get out there some time. Sadly, I'll miss out on the blue egg ravioli, since I always work on Fridays.

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I know a guy who knows a guy who works at Carrie Cerino's (who might actually leave there and come work with me) who has been saying nice things about CC, but I kind of laughed it off.  I guess I'll have to get out there some time.  Sadly, I'll miss out on the blue egg ravioli, since I always work on Fridays.

Dominic will usually do BER on special order if he has a few days advance notice and enough Blue Eggs; probably easier to get on a weeknight than the weekend.

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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One of the best Gelato places in Cleveland is right in Cleveland Heights.  La Gelateria is on Cedar Rd near the corner of Cedar and S. Taylor Rd.  Really great gelatos and sorbetos in a variety of flavors.  All this, and they're open until midnight on the weekends.  Mmmmm...gelato.

This was my best discovery last year! :biggrin:

I tried their branch at Legacy Village as well but I preferred the Cedar location, the atmosphere as well as the taste...

Isn't down where Cedar hits Fairmount? Is there a new location at Cedar and Taylor?

and thanks for the other suggestions, I have alot to check out now, if I can pull myself away from the gelato that is :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Re Lolita - someone I know and trust posted the following report (and link to photos!) on the Cleveland Food & Wine Forum:

My friend and I were both very impressed with our meal at Lolita. Between the two of us we had two entrees, one soup, two desserts, three "small plates" and one sampler that offered tastes of five more selections from the "small plates" section of the menu. Actually, my dessert was really a sampler of sorts so you might say that I had 17 different tastes. There are some pictures here: http://flickr.com/photos/stuart_spivack/tags/lolita/

Everything was wonderful. My favorites were the spring risotto (with calf's liver and peas) and the lomo but absolutely everything was delicious.

There are two things about Lolita that are perfectly suited to my preferences. The first is the selection of small plates. I love the idea of being able to have six small things rather than three big things. If we'd foregone the entrees, I think we could have tried all twenty small plates between the two of us. The other great idea is the salami-of-the-day. The wonderfullness of this should be self-explanatory. It's an irresistable reason for me to return frequently. I'll have plenty of other reasons to go back: beef cheek tortolini with sweetbreads, pastitsio and tiny meatballs will haunt me.

Finally, our server was attentive and knowledgable. That was important because we had a lot of questions.

So, thanks to Chef Symon for a great meal and for being a gracious host.

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Hey guys, I'm new to eGullet, but have lived in Cleveland for almost my whole life. (Besides those six years in Philadelphia for college). Also I'm a cook at one of the best new restaurants in town, Boulevard Blue. For the most part I can only tell you what I've heard, as I haven't gotten out as much as I wanted to. And oh yeah, I'm also from the Heights area ('98 graduate of CHHS)

Boulevard Blue - besides the fact that I work there, we are popping. Always. We've been open for almost a year and a half now and we're still busy. Our music on Friday's and Saturday's is extrememly popular. And we just got 3rd Best New Restaurant by Clevleand Magazine. (I know that we're better than the Melting Pot)

Coventry - It's still the place to go, though not as much as it used to. Pacific East (I think that's what it's called) on the corner of Mayfield and Coventry, where the Grog Shop used to be is really good sushi in Cleveland. Also there's an Indian Restaurant up the street that is supposed to be pretty good.

I've heard great things about Lolita and Red, though haven't been to either of them.

Lockkeepers is not the same place that it used to be now that Morgan Jacobson is gone.

I went to Three Birds last year and it was excellant.

That's all I can think of right now.

Harlan

"Whatever doesn't kill me, only makes me stronger."

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Harlan,

another welcome!

We were practically neighbors :biggrin: my brother was also a '98 grad from CHHS, it was a huge school though--his name is Thomas Wagner.

When I was in Cleveland last summer Tom (above mentioned brother) and I were determine to find the best (reasonably priced) Japanese on the East side. Pacific East won hands done.

I need to check out Boulevard Blue when I get back. Has it been there long?

EDIT*

now I am thinking Tom was '99, maybe it was my sister Erin.... :hmmm:

sorry, I was the only one of 8 siblings that didn't go to Heights...

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Boulevard Blue - besides the fact that I work there, we are popping.  Always.  We've been open for almost a year and a half now and we're still busy.  Our music on Friday's and Saturday's is extrememly popular.  And we just got 3rd Best New Restaurant by Clevleand Magazine.  (I know that we're better than the Melting Pot)

Welcome, Harlan! Please tell us more about Boulevard Blue. Where is it and what type of food?

Also - I keep hearing wonderful things about Three Birds, but I haven't been yet.

Another place we haven't mentioned yet is Downtown 140 in Hudson. I haven't been but based on recommendations, I sent my law partners for his birthday and they raved about it.

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Downtown 140 was mentioned in this months Food + Wine magazine for its wine list. My in-laws went there and said it was fantastic. So many restaurants, so little time.

Boulevard Blue is also on my short list of places to go. I've heard lots of good things about the food and the music.

It's true that Lockkeepers is different without Chef Jacobs, but it is still worth a visit. They have a very solid culinary team that can still turn out some fantastic dishes.

Three Birds is pretty good. If you're in the area, it's definately worth a visit.

Edited by RagallachMC (log)
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  • 1 year later...

I get asked a lot what are cleveland's best restaurants? People from elsewhere ask me and I'd like to know from those of you who frequent fine dining places here which ones you think are the best. not best hot dog or best ethnic, best sushi, etc. I mean best in that they can stack up in a list of the country's best, i don't know, one hundred restaurants.

Which are the contenders and why?

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I get asked a lot what are cleveland's best restaurants?  People from elsewhere ask me and I'd like to know from those of you who frequent fine dining places here which ones you think are the best.  not best hot dog or best ethnic, best sushi, etc.  I mean best in that they can stack up in a list of the country's best, i don't know, one hundred restaurants.

Which are the contenders and why?

Parallax is consistently mentioned by natives who have a similiar palate to me. It's been recommended as a must dine when/if I'm in town. Johnny's Bar is supposed to have an above average wine list.

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I love Fire. I also think Andy does a great job at Parker's.

I think Classics was world-class before they fired the guy who got them there, have not been back.

Baricelli can be unbelievable, but there are too many inconsistent nights.

For ethnic cuisine, I'd hate to live anywhere I couldn't get cambodian food like at Phnom Penh.

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There are so many great fine dining restaurants in Cleveland that I haven't been able to get to them all yet! And I lived in New York City, Long Island, and Montclair NJ before I moved to Cleveland ten years ago, so I am a tough audience. Since I do not consider myself very knowledgable about wine, I can't comment on the quality of the wine lists, though I've had wine at all of these places and have never been disappointed. To me, "upscale" service means more than one server on my table and/or silverware promptly changed out after each course if the table isn't already set with enough different pieces, exquisitely clean silverware and glassware, food all served at the correct temperature and in conjunction with any beverage ordered, and never having to strain my neck to find a server when I want something. The one thing missing from most fine dining places in Cleveland, however, is a sommelier.

These are the ones I have eaten at and enjoyed:

Moxie - Straighforward meats, pastas, fish, seafood and vegetables, treated with love - gently sauced when appropriate, loaded with flavor and freshness and served in a lovely but lively atmosphere (gets a little loud sometimes). Desserts are housemade and outstanding too. Beautiful bar, but the bar area is smoky.

Red the Steakhouse - One of the best steaks I ever had. Period. Too bad it was before they started to carry bone-in filet mignon - I need to get back for that. Appetizers and sides are imaginative and presented well. The enviroment is hushed but welcoming, with a lot of red color. Service is solicitous. Since it shares the kitchen with Moxie, wonderful desserts abound!

Baricelli Inn - More than just artisanal cheeses (which are fantastic), we attended a wonderful dinner there focused on local and sustainable items, which are also the freshest and best tasting, artfully prepared. Though located in Little Italy, the cuisine is "straight ahead" and not really ethnic - as with Moxie, top quality meats, fish, seafood, veggies and pasta are prepared and served with style. It is an old building that also has guest rooms; the dining areas are composed of several relatively small rooms, zealously maintained to create a first class dining environment. Service was upscale.

Blue Canyon - We have enjoyed several outstanding wine dinners and many other meals at Blue Canyon - many items for lobster and beef lovers, as well as creative appetizers (duck, duck, goose - duck pastrami, duck confit and goose foie gras on one plate - made a foie gras lover out of me!) and salads (one topped with house-made peanut brittle); scallops are often creatively featured in appetizers or entrees. Chicken, pasta and flatbreads round out the menu. The pastry chef is amazing as well; her signature is to add a shooter of a sweet liquid concoction to many of her dessert offerings (and they are always different). The space is breathtaking in its size and design, especially when decorated for the December holidays. They just opened a gorgeous patio, that is more casual. This is a young place, that is building a core of quality servers and staff.

The Leopard (The Bertram Inn) - we've had two meals there. I was most impressed the first time, when the waiter mis-heard my husband's order and served him the wrong entree (a gorgeously presented lobster - but not what he ordered). I agreed to hold off on my veal until his order was re-done, and expected mine to come out either cold or like shoe leather- but they have some sort of hi-tech contraption lamp that held my veal perfectly while they prepared the correct entree for my husband. It was an awsome meal - we enjoyed real Ceasar Salad made from scratch tableside and a house made pastry stuffed with duck for appetizers. They also comped some drinks and dessert for the mishap, which was very nice. The great food was matched by the service, which was upscale perfection.

Downtown 140 (Hudson) - A little out of the way, this place is small and cozy, but definitely upscale, and is turning out some exquisite food. Go during the week; we found it too crowded on the weekend, which affected service. Some of the standout items when we went were Kobe Shortrib Springroll, roasted clams with pancetta, fennel, spinach and manchego cheese, calamari with miso chile glaze, daikon radish, green papaya and kimchee (we marveled at how perfect this dish was – tender, fresh, and not a bit greasy), beet salad, crispy duck confit and the best piece of Walleye I've ever had. The fresh fuit filled empanadas were a killer dessert!

Giovanni's (Beachwood) - I've only had lunch there once, but the food and service were very high end (as were the prices) - though I would like to try it for dinner, it is almost too upscale, and there are so many other great places to eat! But the lunch was very good. They have a beautiful fireplace and everything is polished and scrubbed; there is a great attention to detail. They bake their own breads; food was fresh and delicious (salad, pasta and fish) and service was perfection - plates are brought out on a serving cart under a gleaming metal dome - perhaps a tad pretentious, but the food under the dome was worthy of the treatment.

Parallax, mentioned by Gordon, gets rave reviews and is on our list to get to this summer, as is Three Birds in Lakewood. Lolita is a less upscale cousin to Michael Symon's Lola, which is upscale and will re-open downtown soon; Lolita has fabulous Greek and Mediteranean inspired food in a more casual atmosphere.

Edited by NancyH (log)

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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