ginko. go.

When chef Dante Boccuzzi first returned to Cleveland, I remember going to his initial Sushi Blues event at his original Dante location. I didn’t know then that he opened a Nobu in Milan or even worked with the celebrated chef. All I knew was that I would make every attempt to attend these events because he knew what he was doing and I was impressed. Shortly after I would learn more about his history and it would all make sense.

I have ridiculous cravings for sushi on a pretty rconsistent basis. I’m not anywhere close to an expert in the category, just have a genuine appreciation for the craft and this type of cuisine. But I can tell you this, if you’re a fan of Dante, and appreciate Japanese food, then you absolutely need to head to Ginko and experience it first-hand. I promise that you will be impressed on a variety of levels. I certainly was. Here’s a recap of a recent visit on behalf of Metromix.


Dante Boccuzzi has been teasing Clevelanders with his sushi skills since he first arrived back to Cleveland in 2007. Boccuzzi held special sushi events when he first opened Dante in the old Lockkeepers space in Valley View before moving to his current Tremont digs. And now that tease has turned into a full-blown Japanese restaurant tucked below his signature restaurant, which could easily find a home anywhere on the streets of Tokyo and fit right in.

Food: Yes he’s Italian, but Boccuzzi knows Japanese cooking and has learned from the best. He worked for famed Nobu Matsuhisa and opened a Nobu in Milan where he spent a couple of years. Additionally, he hired Taishi Noma, who was born in Japan, as head chef.

Boccuzzi wanted Ginko to be unlike any sushi restaurant in Cleveland. If you’re looking for anything wrapped around cream cheese, look elsewhere. Prices may also be a bit higher than people are used to. But then again, the quality and cut of the fish is unlike anything found locally. He’s also flying in fish and other goods from Hawaii, New York and Japan almost daily.

The menu features appetizers, sushi, nigiri, specialty nigiri and specialty rolls plus a omakase tasting, which translates to “I’ll leave it to you.” Shabu Shabu is also available with certified angus beef or the pricier Wagyu, but only at the two booths.

On a recent visit, we started off with the blistered shishito peppers ($8) and the spicy scallop chips ($12). These chips, literally, are not to be missed. Slightly spicy chopped scallops with scallions and tobiko are served atop Pringles. It’s tasty and fun.

Our sushi, which was served less than two minutes after our appetizers came out, included the house specialty Zepplin with yellowtail, salmon and crab wrapped in cucumber ($12), Ginko roll with tuna, salmon, hamachi, avocado, kaiware, tobiko and daikon ($13), shiro maguro ($4.50), jumbo shrimp tempura ($12), and traditional soft shell crab ($8).

We are going to go out on a limb and predict early on that Ginko will very likely soon find its way as the best, authentic sushi around. Presentation, taste, freshness and quality are truly top-notch. This was quite an impressive dining experience.

Libations: Winos head upstairs because there’s none to be had down here (except a glass of plum wine). Only 15 plus types of sake, a nice variety of Japanese beers and specialty cocktails like the orange Umami ($12) with sake, vodka, oranges and ginger, or the shiso martini ($12) with yuzu, cointreau plus shiso.

Décor: Even if you’re not a fan of sushi, stop in for a drink if only to admire the space and enjoy the great playlist (plently of Vampire Weekend). Lots of bright, primary colors on a jet back canvas with tons of glass: glass tiles adorn the two mini bar booths, a reflective bubbled glass ceiling above the bar and a giant feature wall with all blown glass. Then there’s the giant horseshoe sushi bar (with floating glass fish), a flat-screen TV playing Speed Racer and vintage Atari Millipede game in the corner of this tiny restaurant that seats roughly 40.

Service: Whenever anyone steps inside Ginko, everyone from the hostess to the chefs welcome you in Japanese, a customary tradition found in any Japanese restaurant. This “Cheers”-like greeting sets the stage for the overall service. Servers and chefs are all too eager to explain the menu, make suggestions and answer any questions you may have. Food is also served rather quickly—perhaps a little too quick.

Insider tip: Lunch is served on Fridays only. Also, the space is small and they don’t take reservations. It might be hard to dine out with a larger group given that the majority of seating is around the sushi bar.