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Channeling the spirit of a European wine bar, this funky little spot in Ohio City makes a tasty backdrop for a small but tempting menu of thin-crusted pizzas, house-cured meats, handmade pastas, and some of the best twice-fried, Belgian-style fries you'll ever find on a Cleveland tabletop. To go with, the annotated wine list offers 100 selections, while next door's Bier Markt provides dozens of imported brews.
In a neighborhood where you can't swing a pizza box without hitting an Italian restaurant, this is one of the best, with generous servings of thoughtfully prepared foods, at reasonable prices. Specialties include angel-hair pasta loaded with plump, intensely flavored sun-dried tomatoes, fresh spinach, and chopped kalamata olives, tossed with garlic and olive oil.
During daylight hours, this anchor of the Warehouse District party scene masquerades as a simple bar and restaurant. But on any weekend, the place becomes a holding pen for a unique cross section of clubbers, from gel-headed fratsters to hip-hoppers to suited execs.
After 25 years in Little Italy, Paul Minnillo has moved to the suburbs with this contemporary restaurant serving modern regional Italian cuisine. The far-ranging menu includes small-plate-style antipasti and creative greens, as well as silken pastas and hearty entrées. A wood-fired pizza oven turns out killer Neapolitan-style pies. A deep Italian wine list and a patio round out this East Side gem.
Upscale, casual dining emphasizing fresh, seasonal foods in pizzas, pastas and seafood. An extensive wine and cocktail list is available for the grownups; a kids' menu features smaller portions for little stomachs.
The vast open dining room and mechanical service can make a meal here seem sort of hectic. On the upside, however, well-prepared entrées, such as rack of lamb and lasagna Bolognese, are both tasty and sensibly priced. Part of a Columbus-based chain.
Stepping into this cozy neighborhood ristorante — with its wooden bar, linoleum floors, and menu of pizza, pasta, and assorted parmigianas, cacciatores, and marsalas — is like traveling back in time to the days when Italian restaurateurs baked their own breads, made their own pastas, and served it all in charming, intimate spaces. Almost everything on the “full-meal deal” menu is delish. But when it comes to fried calamari and baked lasagna, Bruno’s scores among the very best.
Comfortable and casual, the Trattoria dishes up big helpings of tasty Italian food at reasonable prices. Savory nine-inch specialty pizzas include one topped with sautéed spinach, prosciutto, black olives, feta cheese, and mozzarella. Dense homemade potato gnocchi are served with butter, Romano cheese, and a rich tomato-basil sauce.
If you doubt that polished service is the foundation of a fine meal, you haven’t been to Il Bacio, the cozy ristorante in Little Italy, where mellifluously accented host and owner Antonino Calandra heads up one of the most gracious teams in town. That, plus Calandra’s voluptuous take on tiramisu, go far toward making Il Bacio as sweet as its name’s translation: The Kiss.
Casually upscale and unselfconsciously cool, this neighborhood bistro is home to delicious gourmet pizzas, an intriguing collection of fish and seafood dishes, and a dashing wine list containing one of the region’s largest assortment of half-bottles.
Reasonably priced, family-friendly dining inside an upscale, Disneyesque facsimile of ancient Roman ruins is this Columbus-based restaurant's claim to fame. The menu focuses on pasta, pizza, or wood-grilled meats; for dessert, the partially caramelized cheesecake, in a pool of crème anglaise, tastes like more.
This snug, suburban oasis features a casually upscale vibe, a gregarious Roman chef and an expansive, entrancing menu of Italian eats, with options ranging from savory antipasti platters, seafood, and strip steaks to gnocchi, lasagna, and homemade pappardelle with wild-boar Bolognese. Assembled from first-rate ingredients and served with grace in a gorgeous dining room, Café Toscano's food hits all the right chords.
The menu’s nothing fancy, composed mostly of pasta, a few sandwiches, a simple pizza, and some pastries. And while the surroundings are clean and comfy, the amenities are homey at best. But when you and a bud each can snare an ample portion of spaghetti with homemade meatballs and share a freshly stuffed cannoli, and still get change from a $20, that’s what we call a bargain. Beer and wine are available.
One of Ohio's largest family-owned wineries, Ferrante's is located along the southern shores of Lake Erie. The winery offers award-winning wines, charm, and hospitality next to the two cozy fireplaces in the full-service Italian restaurant.

Established in 1918, Guarino's is one of Cleveland's oldest restaurants and is still a family operation. While the decor tends toward Victoriana, the kitchen's pasta, veal and seafood dishes are all Italian.
Romantic and very Italian, this intimate little restaurant features an enticing menu of well-prepared regional specialties, mostly from the Piedmont region of northern Italy. Best of all, the hands-on owners make everyone feel like part of la famiglia.
If you weren't born into an Italian family, dining at this unpretentious Solon restaurant could be the next best thing. Chef-owner Jimmy Daddano makes all his sauces from traditional recipes: Yeasty garlic rolls, slathered with butter and cheese, arrive fresh from the oven, and Jimmy's mom makes the homemade desserts from scratch.
Dark, intimate, and timelessly elegant, this manly little jewel box of a restaurant is the sort of place you suggest when you want to impress the boss, wow a date, or just remind yourself why you work so damn hard. The menu is crammed with upscale Italian specialties, including some stunning risottos and one of the city's finest long-boned veal chops; at lunch, though — pssst — the char-grilled burger is out of this world.
Once you get past the fact that this restaurant is in an upscale fashion mall and nowhere near our real Little Italy, you’re likely to enjoy the elegant, 1950s-style decor and the big menu of well-prepared southern Italian standards served in oversized portions just right for sharing. Private parties, banquets, and corporate events are other house specialties.
We've seen hallways bigger than this tiny Italian restaurant, but the intimate ambiance and robust food are ample compensation for the lack of elbow room. The small menu has the usual pasta, chicken, and veal dishes, all well-prepared and flavorful. And the hand-tossed, stone-baked pizzas are notable for their crisp, almost wafer-thin crusts. Impressive all-Italian wine list.
Trained in Italy’s Piedmont region, talented chef-owner Michael Annandono tackles an ambitious repertoire of mostly northern Italian fare with consistently delicious results. We can rarely resist the delicate homemade pastas, served in a room that is as elegantly understated as the food itself. Italian and Californian wine list.
From the elegant crowd to the complementary gourmet pizza served on the hour during happy hour, Players is top-shelf, all the way.
Don’t let the subterranean location fool you: This Little Italy mainstay, settled at the bottom of a long flight of stairs, is as warm and welcoming as nonna’s kitchen, with a neighborly vibe and the wallet-friendly prices to match. Offerings are mostly traditional Italian — pastas, polenta, eggplant parmesan — with a few stylish twists. And to drink, check out the short but interesting list of wines-by-the-glass.
Cozy and urbane, this contemporary Italian American restaurant and wine bar offers everything from pizza and pasta to fresh seafood and steak. Good bets include pan-roasted mussels, zesty grilled salmon, and the savoriest version of Italian wedding soup this side of Nonna's kitchen.
Unless your mama is from Naples, we’ll wager that the meals you serve aren’t nearly half as good as Valerio’s rustic, unpretentious food. And we doubt that you employ a staff of tall, slender waiters, who roam the room like dashing exclamation points. All-Italian wine list.
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