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Cleveland Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations


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A couple more ideas...

If you're in Cleveland Heights looking for (more) bread there is a bakery on Fairmount, in the little strip of shops just east of S. Taylor. I think its called "On the Rise" or something close to that. My sister used to work at the stationary shop next door and would bring us home bread at the end of the day, it's very good. And speaking of bagels, I always rep for Bialey's Bagles on the corner of Warrensville and Silsby.

Also, a bit farther afield, there is a place in Lakewood called Melts Bar and Grilled that served a variety of unique grilled cheese sandwiches, all with great ingredients on fresh thick (Orlando Bakery?) bread. If you've ever wanted a grilled cheese with american cheese, sauerkraut, grilled peppers, and bratwurst (aka the Municipal Stadium) this is your place. It's a bar so the kitchen probably has longer hours.

Address for the GPS:

14718 Detroit Ave.

Lakewood, OH 44107



Edited by danf (log)
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White Lotus has landed in Cleveland! We are planning to dine together Thursday and Friday at Fire or Lolita, and Carrie Cerino's (Blue Egg Ravioli!), respectively.

Please PM me if you are interested in joining us for one or both evenings!

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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White Lotus reports that she had a wonderful dinner at Lola last night, and she is on to Fire tonight.

So - Thursday we're going to Lolita, and Friday to Carrie Cerino's. Dominic Cerino reports that there is Blue Egg Gelato in the house!

Please PM me if you'd like to join us for either or both!

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Dinner at CC last night was wonderful. There are pics and comments on the Carrie Cerino's thread.

I very much enjoyed meeting White Lotus. Her whirlwind tour of Cleveland food spots this week was impressive: Lola, Fire, Lolita, and Carrie Cerinos, plus a trip to the West Side Market. Not bad for one week...

Chef Matt at lolita is accustomed to seeing the eGullet gang takin pictures of the food, but meticulous note-taking is a new twist. We've got a dedicated foodie here! :smile:


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It has been so fun showing off some of Cleveland's great food to our out of town visitor!

Tonight will be the last stop (she has to leave early tomorrow): Light Bistro.

Please pm or email me if you are interested in joining us!

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Edsel reported on our last dinner at Light Bisto here.

White Lotus's last stop in her Cleveland food odyssey was the Velvet Tango Room, which is reported on here.

Hope you now agree that there is great food in Cleveland!

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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  • 10 months later...

Time to bump this thread up with a post about a fantastic Cleveland restaurant that I've ignored for way too long. I refer to Chef Karen Small's Flying Fig.

Dined there with a friend last night and the food was outstanding!


Tomato Soup w/Cheddar Biscuit


Roasted Beet Salad with Local Apples, Goat Cheese, Walnuts, Local Honey, Herb Vinaigrette


This salad was almost a meal in itself!


Baked Monkfish with Wild Rice Pilaf and Broccoli Rabe

This dish was very good (I had a taste).


Seared Halibut with Fresh Spatzel tossed with Asparagus and Mushroom, topped with Mandarin Orange Slices and Salad, with Buerre Blanc

This dish was Rock 'N Roll! The fish was exquisitely fresh and perfectly cooked. Wow. And the sides were also terrific. I won't wait so long to get back!! Add another primo dining locale to the Cleveland scene (actually, the Fig has been around for a while, it's just taken me eons to get there).

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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  • 2 weeks later...

A wine dinner at Baricelli Inn in Little Italy featuring wines from Burgess Cellars


Striped Bass with Fava Beans, Scallions, & EVOO

Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc 2004

Since Burgess produces only red wines, the featured bubbly for the first course came from a neighboring vineyard. The bass was firmer than I expected, and had a pleasant, slightly nutty flavor. The favas were fresh and tender, and the olive oil drizzled over the dish was deliciously peppery. It was a Chianti Classico (registered DOP). A small bottle of the same oil was placed on the table for bread-dipping. NancyH has a picture on her blog.


Cavetelli with Giancale & Roma Tomatoes

Ilona 2002

The second wine was from a small neighboring vineyard but was produced at Burgess. It was a fine accompaniment to the cavatelli. I meant to ask chef Minillo if "giancale" is from a regional dialect - as far as I could tell, it was the same as guanciale (cured pork jowl). Come to think of it, this had a smokey flavor, and I think that guanciale is usually unsmoked. Maybe that's the distinction.


Pork Tenderloin Scaloppine with Rapini

Burgess Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

The pork was perfectly cooked - moist and a bit pink. I'm so glad that restaurants in the U. S. are no longer afraid to serve pork that hadn't been cooked to death. :smile: The rapini provides a nice counter to the slight sweetness of the pork. The jus was spiked with capers and enriched with caramelized onions. Nice!


Lamb Ribs with Five-Spice Rub, Slaw & Mango Chutney

Burgess Syrah 2004

An unexpectedly Asian flavor combination, and surprisingly spicy. The Syrah was a great match for this, and was my favorite wine of the evening.


Chocolate Semifreddo & Biscotti

Burgess Library Cabernet Sauvignon 1994

The semifreddo was light and airy. The 1994 Cab has aged gracefully. It was an interesting contrast to the 2004 current release.

Little Italy is sort of off the beaten path for me. It's just far enough from home to make me think twice about driving there. This dinner was a reminder that there's a very good reason to travel the extra mile. Paul Minillo is one of Cleveland's most accomplished chefs, and the dining room at the Inn is a pleasant setting for some remarkable food.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another wine dinner at Baricelli. :smile:

This time the featured winery was Villa Calcinaia. Count Sebastiano Capponi was on hand to introduce five of his wines, plus the estate-bottled olive oil of the same name.

Chianti Classico Extra Virgin Olive Oil D.O.P.


This is the olive oil served at Baricelli (in the tiny bottle shown) to accompany their bread service. It has an official E. C. Denomination (hence the D.O.P. label). More info on their web site. This oil has a beautiful peppery freshness and a supple, lingering complexity. Just gorgeous with the bread from Mediterra Bakehouse.

Sautéed Halibut with Mixed Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil & Fennel

Villa Calcinaia Comitale 2006


I hadn't realized that halibut is a seasonal fish until chef Minnillo noted that it was just coming into season now. He has been living by the "fresh, seasonal, local" mantra for many years now. Yes, I know you're thinking it's a bit early to be seeing fresh tomatoes in Ohio. Those were hothouse grown, and it's been warm enough for a few weeks now for the grower to open up the greenhouse windows to let in some fresh air and sunshine. :cool: They may not be quite as tasty as late-summer tomatoes, but tasty they were!

The wine was a great match for this dish. It has a nice acidity and fruit. Count Capponi told us which varietals are used, but i promptly forgot. :hmmm: According to a web reference I found the grapes are grechetto and vernaccia.

Pappardelle Puttanesca

Villa Calcinaia Chianti Classico 2004


The pasta was freshly made and was cooked to perfection - just the right degree of "tooth", neither over- nor under-cooked. The Puttanesca sauce was appropriately zippy, with a touch of anchovy to give it some depth. Chef Minnillo brought around some freshly-grated cheese, explaining that this would be frowned upon in Italy due to the presence of fish in the dish (seafood and cheese never mix). Since the anchovy plays just a supporting role here, I wouldn't think that any "rules" were violated. :wink:

The Chianti Classico has a pleasant tannic backbone, and was well-paired with this dish. A dining companion who doesn't especially care for Chianti wines was pleasantly surprised.

Paul's Heirloom Pork Sausage with Swiss Chard & Ramps

Villa Calcinaia Chianti Classico Riserva 2004


Everyone raved about this sausage. Deep porky flavor with subtle fennel spicing. I was delighted to see ramps on the menu. The polenta was creamy and delicious.

As good as the Chianti Classico was, the Riserva blew it away. this is a gorgeous wine.

Sautéed Duck Leg with Cannellini Beans & Spring Veggies

Villa Calcinaia Casarsa 2004


The duck was more pan-roasted than sautéed - it tasted like a very good duck confit. the vegetables were intensely flavorful. I especially enjoyed the beans, which were fresh and tender.

The Casarsa is billed as a "Super-Tuscan. It might more accurately be called a what-the-hell-is-that-grape? wine. Apparently the vines were supposed to be a traditional local varietal. When the leaves opened up, they just didn't look right. Wait a minute, that isn't Merlot. is it? :shock::raz: Honestly, I would never have guessed the grape here. Another winner.

V|C EVOO Ice Cream with Basil & Chocolate Truffle

Villa Calcinaia Vin Santo


I've had olive oil ice cream before, and this was a good one. The presentation was delightful, with a spoon-shaped tuille.

The Vin Santo was awesome. It had that fortified / oxidized character, but with great dried-fruit notes. Delicious.

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Wow - you got some beautiful shots, Edsel!

I just need to add my own, slightly different perspective on this fabulous dinner. You see, I am a not-so-observant Jewish person, who, during the week of Passover, usually sticks to the program. I'm not sure why, but when growing up, it was the one week of the year we observed Kashruth, and I like to continue that tradition. But, as I wrote on my blog, when Chef Paul Minillo mentioned at the Burgess Wine Dinner that the next special dinner at the Baricelli Inn would be April 24, and would feature the Olive Oil and Wines of Villa Calcinaia, I knew I could not miss this. It is the best Olive Oil I have ever tasted, and so I knew I had to taste their wines, as well as whatever wonderful food Chef Paul would pair with it. So, Bob and I took a "temporary break" from Passover to enjoy this incredible meal, which we shared with Edsel and another couple.

We didn't fool around in "breaking" Passover - as bread was served with the first wine pour. While I might otherwise have simply passed on it (sorry) - that lovely little bottle of olive oil on the table beckoned, and I could not resist its siren song. As Edsel noted, all of the breads served at Baricelli are sourced from Mediterra Bakehouse in Pittsburgh, PA, and they are generally very good.



After the first slice pictured above, a rather plain bread (which was an ideal foil for the olive oil), the bread service for the evening switched to this amazing Olive Bread.


The Halibut dish was exquisite - fresh fish, perfectly cooked, with mini heirloom tomatoes that tasted of mid-summer.


Edsel described this delicious pasta course perfectly. And, as he noted, we had barely touched our plates when Chef Paul came around, bearing cheese! Saying "I'm not supposed to do this" - he proceeded to sprinkle some cheese over our plates.


I had wondered why there was no cheese in the first place - then Chef Paul explained that because he had used Anchovy in the sauce, he had initially followed the Italian tradition of not adding cheese to the dish. Then, he changed his mind! The anchovy provided a lovely bite to the sauce, that played perfectly against the wine, but it wasn't at all overpowering (which I often find to be the case with anchovy). And I love cheese with anything- especially Baricelli Cheese Company cheese! As with the Halibut course - I cleaned my plate (and I was not the only person at our table guilty of sopping up every bit of goodness with the Olive Bread, right Edsel?).


I've got to say WOW about that house made sausage. It exploded with fresh, porky goodness. I think it is fair to say that, after enjoying this course, Passover was pretty much (you should pardon the expression), toast. I think we broke every rule in the Passover book with one dish - toothsome sausage laced with pepper that played beautifully off of the wine, served over cheesy polenta that had its own peppery flavor, and accented with the chard and ramps - a fabulous dish. And I'd do it again!

The duck was as perfect as duck gets.



The skin was amazingly crisp and not a bit greasy. Amazing!

And now, an additional word or two on the dessert:


The house-made truffle was as wonderful as the ice cream and olive oil (look hard - there's a gorgeous little puddle under the ice cream) - and was the perfect bridge among the other elements of the dish and the wine.


We look forward to enjoying another meal at Baricelli, and it is always fun dining with Edsel.

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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I had a borscht epiphany at Antalya Red Square in Lyndhurst Ohio today!

A group of us went for lunch. We started with a new appetizer, Kisir:


According to Wikipedia, Kısır is a traditional Turkish side dish made from bulgur wheat, parsley, and tomato paste. Common additional ingredients include parsley, tomato paste, onion, garlic (in some regions), sour pomegranate juice (in southern regions of Turkey) or lemon, lettuce leaves, and a lot of spices. It had a reddish color and a little bit of spice, and was quite tasty. But the best was yet to come!

Borscht. Yup, beet soup. One of the most delicious things I have ever tasted!




I'd never heard of borscht being made with meat, but this version had chunks of beef, and I believe, beef stock. And onions that must have been sweat for an hour.

I've got lots of other Antalya lunch pix on my blog, from several visits- their food is always fresh and delicious, but today took the cake, er, beets.

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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  • 5 months later...

My spouse is heading to Cleveland tomorrow and is staying at the Radisson Gateway (651 Huron). He's looking for a nice Friday night dinner, preferably walking distance. Light on the pocket, but no food restrictions. He eats it all. A place with wine would be nice. Any suggestions?

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I'll second r'n'r on the Lola recommendation, if it's within budget. Getting in on a Friday night may be tough, but it's worth a try. They're on Open Table, but your spouse could just call them if there's nothing on O.T. just to see if they can squeeze him in. Another interesting place within walking distance is Crop Bistro.

There's a new Vietnamese place across the street from Lola that has gotten good reviews (haven't been there myself).

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Tell him to avoid Zocala, which is across the street from Lola. Despite the efforts of Aaron Sanchez - I hear nothing good about the place.

I third Lola - if he can't get a table, he can have a fabulous experience eating at the bar.

Crop Bistro is also a great choice, though will probably cost about the same as Lola.

A lot of people like Marlin Kaplan's One Walnut on 9th Street (though I am not a Marlin fan).

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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  • 2 months later...

Baricelli Inn hosted a special dinner last night featuring Great Lakes Brewing Company ales and lagers. GLBC owner Patrick Conway and brewmaster Luke Purcell introduced the brews.

In addition to the special menus, the tables were set with informational flyers and a sampling of ingredients used in the craft of brewing (hops and various preparations of barley).


First up was the Dortmunder Gold Lager


The Baricelli kitchen chose to accompany this with a house-made seafood bratwurst served on a fresh bun and topped with caramelized onions.


Dortmunder Gold is GLBC's best-selling brew. It proved to be a great accompaniment to the caramelized onions and mildly seasoned seafood brat.

Next came the brew they're currently calling "Hale Ale"


This is still under development and will be called "Grassroots Ale" when it debuts on Earth Day 2009. The herbs used to flavor the ale are grown at Hale Farm and Village, a working farm sponsored by the Western Reserve Historical Society.

The food paired with the Hale Ale was a vegetable strudel with a balsamic reduction. Very richly flavored, and a nice foil to the sweet and herbaceous ale.


For eight weeks of the year GLBC sells their Christmas Ale, subtly flavored with honey and spices.


Despite the limited availability, the Christmas Ale is GLBC's second-best-selling brew.

Baricelli's pairing for the Chrismas Ale was Duck Ravioli in a Star Anise-Cinnamon Consommé.


The consommé was made with some of the ale, tying the flavors together. The duck was braised and shredded - very tender and deeply flavorful.

The final savory course featured the Eliot Ness Amber Lager


Spicy Pork Belly with Roasted Garlic Leek Frittata and Kimchi.


The Eliot Ness held up beautifully against the fiery kimchi and rich pork belly, which was braised with Asian five spice and sambal.

The printed menu concluded with the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter


Lighter and less bitter than a stout, the porter paired marvelously with the dessert, a molten chocolate cake with Edmund Fitzgerald ice cream. I don't know who does the desserts at Baricelli. This was terrific, especially the ice cream.

Pat Conway brought along a post-dessert extra, something that's not normally available outside of the brewery. The Barley Wine is higher in alcohol than other brews and is aged. It's perfect as an after dinner digestive, less sweet than the usual cordial, but smooth and satisfying.


Since this was an impromptu "off-menu" addition, the kitchen decided to send out a taste of bleu cheese. Baricelli is justifiably proud of their cheese service. If they said what this one was, I missed it. (Shame on me for not asking. :hmmm: )


This was a wonderful opportunity to taste some great brews highlighted by delicious food. Great Lakes Brewing Company has outgrown the micro-brewery class, but they still have a commitment to the community, their employees, and the environment.

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Bob and I also enjoyed this feast with Edsel. I'm not sure why Edsel didn't post his much-better-focused photo of dessert ( Baricelli GLBC - Chocolate Cake):


At least my close-ups of the pieces parts came out better:

Edmund Fitzgerald Ice Cream over Chocolate Bar:


Molten Chocolate Cake:




(This may be out of focus - but it's still CHOCOLATE!)

I also have a few different perspectives on some of the dishes.


Business End of the Seafood Brat

Chef Paul Minillo explained that the brat included a variety of fresh fish and seafood items from his larder, including house-cured salmon, scallops, and shrimp. The flavor was very delicate, and contrasted with the bold, spicy caramelized onion topping. The assertive hops of the Dortmunder brought delicate and spicy together perfectly.


We told Pat Conway to get his chef over to Baricelli for a Veggie Strudel-making session with Chef Paul - this dish was a perfect accompaniment to the Wheat Beer! Chef Paul told us which cheese adorned the plate - I do not remember the name, but it was a special one from his Cheese Shop.


Inside the Duck Ravioli


Head On View of the Entree

The perfectly cooked Pork Belly, which was pretty spicy in its own right, and the fiery Kim Chee were complimented by the exquisitely prepared Roasted Garlic Leek Frittata. Executive Chef Chris pointed out that one of the best uses for pork belly is bacon, and what could be better than Bacon & Eggs! And he was right!

We're off to Baricelli again - right now - for the annual Slow Food Wine & Cheese Tasting!

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm the Executive Director of a group of over 75 locally owned and operated independent restaurants in the Cleveland area, Cleveland Independents. If you log on to www.clevelandindependents.com, you'll find a terrific array of different options from some of the best chefs in town...and events...and specially discounted gift certificates...and promotions...and other good things. These are the true flavors of the area. I'm sure you'll be pleased with any of them.

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  • 7 months later...

Cleveland's Greenhouse Tavern was named one of Bon Appetit's Top Ten Best New Restaurants in America for 2009. Congratulations to Chef Sawyer and the gang at GHT. Very well deserved!

Here's the blurb from the linked article:

This unassuming gastropub in downtown Cleveland is on the forefront of the green-restaurant movement. Reclaimed barn wood, light fixtures made from old bike rims, and a rooftop dining area/greenhouse are just a few of the environmentally conscious elements that went into redesigning the space. But for the epicurean, all this is moot if the restaurant fails to deliver on the food front. Thanks to chef Jonathon Sawyer, who worked with Charlie Palmer in New York and Iron Chef Michael Symon, it doesn't. Ohio-sourced ingredients are the stars of the modern, snack-heavy menu. Goat cheese tarts with tomato salad (recipe at right); hand-ground beef tartare with a cold poached egg; and crispy chicken wings with roasted jalapeño, scallions, and garlic are just a few of the smart, simple dishes that keep food lovers coming back.
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Was in Cleveland last week end enjoyed Lola, Lolita and Baricelli Inn. Even on a Saturday night Baricelli had tables available. A group of us ate out in the gardens which is something I suggest if the weather is nice. Coming from Dallas it was nice to have 70 degrees at night. The food was outstanding as well.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Clevelanders -- I'm going to be at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Wednesday night at the end of a biz trip. Planning to tour the Hall until 9pm, then will likely need to eat before catching a very early flight out the next day.

Is there somewhere around the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame that's open past 9pm and worth my getting into & checking out? Any upgrade from hotel bar would be much appreciated!

Thanks! -- T

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