q & a with you

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know our local chefs a bit better. Particularly, it’s been interesting to learn which places get their nod as a favorite, which restaurant is missed and what hidden gem Clevelanders have yet to discover. I thought it would be interesting to open up those questions to everyone and see what other places should be on our radar and who gets your vote as a favorite.

Here’s mine:

Places I miss: Battuto, Parker’s and the Silver Grille. I’d even throw in Frisco Rose – not because the food was anything memorable, but my grandma would always take us there so good memories.

Restaurant/cafe yet to be discovered: Lucky’s in Tremont, although I think more people are catching on. This place is ideal for lazy Sunday mornings, especially when it’s cold outside. Great coffee shop and delicious and inventive breakfast options like sweet potato Belgium waffles and the shipwreck omelet. Oh, and the pecan-crusted bacon is the best bacon you will ever try. In addition to breakfast and lunch, they will soon be open for dinner with an expanded kitchen.

My picks for favorite restaurants: This is hard for local places because I love so many – I don’t think I can pick one! It’s probably a three-way tie between Momocho, Parallax and Flying Fig. Elsewhere, I’d pick Avec (Chicago), Nobu and Babbo (both NYC), and The Hali’imaile General Store (Maui).


  1. rockandroller
    Posted August 22, 2007 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Places I miss: I really liked La Pomme, which was one of the incarnations in the Clifton Rd space that seems to have really bad luck (formerly mise). I only went there twice but had very, very good food both times. The place I miss most of all in town is Danny Boy’s farm market which was in N. Olmsted. This was SO much more convenient than trucking down to the west side market or out to mustard seed. They offered amish-grown meats, home made bakery items, had a great wine selection, did fruit baskets that they shipped anywhere, and had nearly all local produce. I used to look forward to coming in when the concord grapes came into season as the smell was so awesome. They also had a really, really excellent salad bar. I can’t tell you how many nights I stopped by there to get my dinner and pick up a few things. For reasons nobody really knows, they just very quickly shut up one day and never opened again. I heard something about troubles within the family, maybe related to tax, but it’s just such a shame. It was a prime location and continues to go completely unused except around Halloween time when some fly-by-night company uses it to sell costumes.

    Restaurant/cafe yet to be discovered: Nobody seems to talk much about the Borderline Cafe in Lakewood, though W side residents know it well. Great and affordable (indie-owned) breakfast places are hard to find here, and this is one of them. Their trail mix pancakes are a great side item for 2 to share and their breakfast quesidilla is awesome. Friendly and prompt service (cash-only). And I think people are only slowly discovering Capri Pizza in Middleburg Hts, which I’ve been raving about for a long time as the best pizza in cleveland (NY style). There are a few small tables for those by-the-slice customers but it’s really a takeout joint. It’s in an unassuming space in the strip mall on bagley in berea where Panera faces the road (where the movie theater is).

    My picks for favorite restaurants:
    Carrie Cerino’s is probably my fave place in town. The variety ensures a different meal every time and the food is outstanding. Dominic runs a great establishment here and his staff pulls off huge dinner services while still serving a large amount of customers in the event-side of the business, which is impressive. There aren’t many places where you can not only get fresh made pasta, but a place where they make all their own baked goods as well. And with the (relatively) recent additions of “foodie” items like the Blue Egg Ravioli, Berkshire pork, organic chicken and authentic northen Italian dishes, it’s really a gem. And one of the few great neighhood that’s less than 10 mins away from where I live, which is awesome. Lola is also one of my faves and I’ve been there so many times since they re-opened in the 4th street space I can’t count them all. I bring all kinds of friends and out of towners there. By default, I’ll also have to say the Aladdin’s restaurants, which I’ve come to count on in all the suburbs I’ve lived in around here as one of the few locations I can get tasty, healthy middle eastern food.

  2. michelle v
    Posted August 22, 2007 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Borderline is now on my list as well as the pizza place – always looking for good pizza. Maybe I need to give Carrie Cerino’s another try b/c I was not impressed. The decor was dated, our table was dirty, my wedding soup was salty – but I will say the blue egg ravioli was good – not great, but pretty good. I know most people love this place and I was really hoping too, as well. I have even heard it’s a fav of Michael Symon’s. Oh – and I agree with you about Danny Boy’s – loved that place.

  3. rockandroller
    Posted August 22, 2007 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    You really have to give CC’s another try. Keep in mind the fact that much of their bread and butter (pardon the pun) is due to their older, reliable clientele who would throw a giantic shit fit if Dom ever changed the decor, they aren’t interested in the foodie menu, they want their chicken parm and that’s that. I’ve come to see the decor as funky and homey instead of just a relic, and I actually like going there because it’s different looking than anywhere else. I think of it as old world charm.

    It’s not white tablecloth dining. If your table is dirty, say so. We had to wait an unusually long time during our last visit to be waited on but when we mentioned this to our server, she apologized profusely spent the rest of the meal making up for it with really friendly, excellent service. The majority of the servers are older, experienced types, the kind that still call you honey and never tire of bringing out the free special occasion cake even though they’ve done it a million times that night.

    I find their menu to be a great balance of solid, “normal Italian food” and foodie-food. If you really just want a piece of baked scrod and side of pasta, it’s consistently good. If you want to try something different, the specials on the first page are usually the more foodie-type ones. Lately he’s been featuring a dish of lentils and sausage that’s very popular and the panzenella/heirloom tomato salad. In the late spring he has copper river king salmon, which is hugely popular.

    LOVE the decor and the crusty, older servers. If you embrace it, you’ll get it.

  4. rockandroller
    Posted August 22, 2007 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    I forgot to mention he is making much of his own salumi now, as well as importing some. He does a nice salumi board that’s great to share and has some very good meats & cheeses. Things are really changing there in the past couple of years and I really admire his desire to push the envelope while not alienating his long-standing, traditional customers who help keep the place open.

  5. Michael Walsh
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    Danny Boys, wow, that place was awsome. they became a one stop shop before they closed. What happened there??? that place should most definatly still be in business.

  6. Anonymous
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    From Village Square Plaza in Woodmere, I totally miss that old Americo-Chinese standby, the Hong Kong. My family picked up food from there since I was in grade school (um, a while ago!). Sure, in the latter days there were plenty of ill-prepared misses on the menu, but I’ve yet to find tastier, charred spare ribs, better bok-choy-laden wonton soup or a more or as-good-as version of lobster Cantonese -their’s was redolent of fermented black beans, pork and soft curds of scrambled egg that clung to the sweet lobster meat and shells. Also a slippery Chinese mung bean vermicelli with bbq pork, egg and lettuce – not flavored aggresively, but very flavorful nonetheless – the bean threads had absorbed lots of savory stock. Yummy pork fried rice. When my kids or I feel under the weather, I fantasize about dashing up there for a quart or two of won ton soup to help us mend. HRobb

  7. michelle v
    Posted August 23, 2007 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    i thought of another place I miss – or a chef I miss anyway: Keoko Turner. He is now in Atlanta, but worked at several places around Cleveland, most recently Vito’s in Aurora. He made the best vraised short ribs I have ever had and a ginger creme brulee that just fantastic.

  8. Michael Walsh
    Posted August 24, 2007 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    Michelle, do you cook? What is your at home specialty?

  9. michelle v
    Posted August 24, 2007 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Ok, I’m convinced – I will give Carrie Cerino’s another shot. SO many people love this place and love Dominic – that coupled with the fact that he is making his own salumi now has convinced me to put it back on the list. I can understand why he hasn’t changed the decor so I will overlook that. Thanks for setting me straight :)

  10. michelle v
    Posted August 24, 2007 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I do cook, a lot actually. I love it, and I love entertaining. We try and cook most nights and go out once or twice – but sometimes more depening on how late we work. I have a ton of recipes and books/magazines I try to duplicate. I need a recipe and find it hard to come up with stuff on my own. I like to think I’m a good cook. I haven’t sent anybody to the ER anyway. I don’t have any specialties per se, maybe a few staples I learned from my grandma like fresh breadcrumbs, sauce and pitzelles (my husband actually wants me to sell my pitzelles but I’m too lazy). I love to make all kinds of pasta, appetizers and soup – no matter how hot it is, I love soup.