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Aug 20, 2008 09:09 AM

Cleveland Suggestions

My husband and I will be travelling to Cleveland to see family in late August. We have been to Lola, and now want to check out an up and coming restaurant in the Cleveland area. We don't have a preference on type of cuisine, but love South American, Italian, and all Asian cuisines. We will be dining on a Sunday, which rules our Fahrenheit- the place we had heard was so yummy. We do not have a price range- just want to have a high quality dinner. Any suggestions from folks in the Cleveland area? Thanks!

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  1. You will get a lot of great suggestions. We have a great dining scene here and you'll have a lot of choices.

    Our S American restaurant is La Tortilla Feliz. It's in the Tremont neighborhood which is just a couple of minutes west of downtown:

    We have a variety of Asian restaurants. I will let others weigh in here as that's not really my favorite cuisine. I find the "Americanized" stuff bland and too sweet and the authentic cuisine too scary/too seafood heavy for my liking.

    We have a lot of good Italian places. Downtown I would recommend Bice though it's pretty expensive. VERY good and authentic:

    also Osteria is downtown and v. good:

    and Ponte Vecchio also downtown:

    Baricelli Inn has great food, also on the expensive side, they are on the E side in Cleveland Heights:

    I also highly recommend La Campagna in Westlake (VERY small, family owned/run place, reservations are a must but very good food - no website) and Stino Da Napoli in Rocky River if you are going west (also small and reservations are necessary, but not as small as La Campagna):

    Enjoy your trip and let us know where you ended up!

    1. Italian? Bar Cento is a new wine bar. The food is simple but prepared well from fantastic ingredients. The menu changes frequently but if you're here in the next couple weeks then some of these dishes should still be around. The corn "on the bone" has a nice spicy kick. The shitake mushroom pizza with wild boar has a fantastic, rich cream base. The sugar onion pizza also has a nice spicy kick and it's fantastic. The cheese on that pizza has a slightly funky flavor so it might not please people who don't like more aggressive cheeses. I love it. The cucumber salad has a dressing reminiscent of thousand Island. It's delicious. There's a bean and tomato side dish that's fantastic. The potato pizza with bacon is wonderful.

      Sapore is a great restaurant. It may be a long drive depending on where you're coming from. It's 39 minutes East of Lola, for instance. The other potential problem is that Sapore is only open on Fridays and Saturdays. If that's acceptable, then I would highly recommend a meal there. They serve four course diners and offer two options for each course. The menu changes frequently. My last meal was there was uniformly excellent: fantastic chicken, pasta with wonderful Spring vegetable ragu and a lagniappe of delicious onion rings.

      Some of my favorite restaurants in the area are more established and I wouldn't really consider them up and coming anymore. I'd be happy to share more about those if you're interested.

      Bar Cento
      1948 West 25th Street, Cleveland, OH 44113

      cleveland, OH, cleveland, OH

      1 Reply
      1. re: stuart

        I am definitely interested in the non-up and coming places too, though the ones you both mentioned sound fabulous.

      2. What about Crop? I've not read much about it by foodies, but the menu looks incredible and the chef's pedigree seems fine.

        9 Replies
        1. re: uhockey

          I like Crop but the food can be a little too "interesting" for me and it's not cheap for dinner. I also find the service to be consistently very slow and lacking; really spacy/weird servers, 20 minutes to get a drink, forever to get the check - things like requesting the check because it's been FOREVER since you've seen them, and oh, since they're visiting the table, they'll say ok they'll get it and then they spend an extra couple of minutes gathering up every scrap of silverware and plates on the table before leaving to get the check you are waiting for. Not good common sense.

          When the food is good, it's OUTSTANDING. They do an innovative take on popcorn that rotates all the time and is fun and different. The macaroni and cheese topped with slow-roasted beef (a fall/winter dish) is so good you want to eat the plate just to get the rest of the sauce. But sometimes it misses - homemade dijon so powerful strong it overwhelms everything on your sandwich and ruins it. Side dishes that are lackluster.

          I like going there but the service problems and on/off problems with the food keep it from being a place I regularly recommend.

          1. re: rockandroller1

            Good info and thanks a ton. I'll check it out next time I'm in Cleveland since Lola didn't do a thing for me aside from the Sweetbreads and bacon.

            1. re: uhockey

              re: Lola, everyone has their off nights. I have been there and had less than stellar experience as well ("ok" but not "great") but it is the exception rather than the norm, I can tell you after multiple visits. We do have many other great restaurants as well so if it's not your cup of tea, no worries.

              1. re: rockandroller1

                In fact, I prefer either of the two restaurants that I mentioned above to Lola. I've been to old Lola/Lolita/new Lola many times and find "ok" to be the norm rather than the exception. Sapore, Bar Cento and the other restaurant I'll recommend here offer different styles of food and different dining experiences but if you isolate the quality of the food, then I think there are several restaurants consistently operating at a higher level.

                I just went to Moxie yesterday and had the fillet. The bernaise sauce was phenomenal as were the accompanying lobster fritters. My usual behavior at Moxie is just to get the specials which generally seem to be fish. In fact, if I wanted beef, I might have a slight preference for a restaurant called fire and I would certainly favor fire for pork. They have their off nights too but I can tell you those nights are far more rare at Moxie than at any other restaurant that I frequent. The consistency at Moxie extends from the bread through the dessert. They make several kinds of bread in house and they're the best bread you'll get at any restaurant around here. Their soup special seems to change at least once a week and I always order it. They always add special finishing touches that really set their soups above. Their desserts are consistently the best around although there's nothing particularly exciting on this iteration of their menu. They get fish fresh daily and they season and cook it perfectly but the sauces and sides are never just supporting players. They're always fantastic and frequently the highlight of a meal.

                I guess I should discuss fire now that I've piqued your interest. First of all, fire's pork chop may just be the perfect food. It has so many different flavors. Fat, meat, char - it's perfectly cooked. Recently, I've also had the fillet and the ribeye at fire and they were each excellent. fire's sides focus more on the ingredients but the kitchen still manages to present excellent flavors by using pristine ingredients and preparing them perfectly. Also, I've recently had a couple great desserts here in quick succession. The most recent was a special - apricot parfait. Simple but perfect. The blueberry crisp is on the menu. Again, simple but perfect. I haven't tried the other desserts on their Summer menu yet but they sound wonderful, too.

                Moxie is almost half an hour East of downtown in a nondescript suburban office mall. fire is at Cleveland's Eastern border in historic, beautiful Shaker Square.

                Fire Food & Drink
                13220 Shaker Square, Cleveland, OH 44120

                Moxie Restaurant
                3355 Richmond Road, Beachwood, OH 44122

                1. re: stuart

                  Fire and Moxie are both on my "keep meaning to try that next time I go east" list but I invariably go there to visit some place I already love, like Anatolia.

                  That being said, I have been to Bar Cento twice and neither time have been impressed. I want to like it *so* much but both times I was very underwhelmed with the food.

                  Edited to add: it's funny how different people's preferences can be, no?

                  1. re: stuart

                    I find Fire far inferior to Moxie, and Moxie far inferior to Lola.

                    But I agree that the pork chop at Fire is a nice dish.

                    1. re: stuart

                      Sorry. I completely missed that you're looking for a restaurant for a meal on a Sunday. Sapore and Moxie are both closed on Sundays.

                      fire and Bar Cento are both open on Sundays. Deciding between the two should be easy. The food is excellent at each but the atmospheres are very different. fire is by no means fancy but it's still not casual like Bar Cento. Bar Cento is faster and louder and has a more urban feel and clientele.

                      I see someone recommended Flying Fig. fire and the Flying Fig are sometimes considered to be mirrors of one another across the Cuyahoga river. I guess the comparison is mostly founded on the respective chefs' dedication to using local ingredients. Chef Small and Chef Katz are pioneers of the local food movement in Northeastern Ohio. I've been to the Fig several times now and there have been some highlights but overall fire offers excellent food more consistently. My last visit to the Fig included a delicious appetizer. It was a salad of yellow watermelon, olive and goat cheese. I'm curious about where the inspiration for that dish came from. In any case, it worked wonderfully. Still... fire.

                      I also see someone mentioned Siam Cafe. Siam Cafe is a fantastic restaurant. It's not exactly what I would recommend as a substitute for Fahrenheit. Fahrenheit is contemporary and hip. Siam Cafe is brightly lit and pretty much what you'd expect from a big Chinese restaurant in America as far as atmosphere. The food at Siam Cafe is better, though. The menu is huge so some things are quite as exciting as others. I've posted specific recommendations in several previous threads.

                      Flying Fig
                      2523 Market Ave., Cleveland, OH 44113

                      1. re: stuart

                        just want to echo stuart's praise for moxie. i had dinner there last weekend while in town, and it was (as usual) top-notch. the crispy catfish served with creamed corn and bacon-chive salad and the wild mushroom/ricotta canelloni with truffled leeks were the stand-outs, but everything was delicious. at this point, i've lost count of how many meals i've had there and can only recall one dish that was a disappointment. likewise, service is always excellent. the staff do their best to accommodate you, and in my experience they're always genuinely nice. fire's crew should take notes.

                  2. re: rockandroller1

                    We had an awesome dinner there recently; blogged about it here:

                2. Bo Loong or Li Wah for authentic Chinese spots. Dim sum on weekends is imperative at the aforementioned restaurants! :D

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: CityGal

                    Forget those guys - if you want authentic Cantonese food go to Wonton Gourmet. I've blogged all of my visits there as follows:,
          , Their off-the-menu dim sums are fabulous - best turnip cake I've ever had anywhere. The pork belly with pickles and anything with black pepper sauce are fantastic. Bo Loong and Li Wah are terribly inconsistent, in my opinion.

                    The other fabulous Asian choices are Siam Cafe, Superior Pho, and Koko Bakery, all in Asiatown.

                  2. Check out Savara on Shaker Square for modern Brazilian. Quite good.

                    Unless a new restaurant has opened in the past few months, there is nothing in Cleveland quite at the same level as Lola, though.