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There are pizzas. And then there are Angelo’s pizzas: plump, fragrant works of art, from the thick provolone topping all the way down to the rich, yeasty crust. The chicken club is good, the veggie is great and the creamy, cheesy seafood pizza, topped with lobster cream, shrimp, crabmeat and fresh spinach, is the stuff of which our dreams are made. Salads, sandwiches, wings, a few pasta platters and a worthwhile beer list round out the menu at this good-looking spot.
Angelo's Nido Italia
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brio Tuscan Grille
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.
Bruno's Ristorante
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.
Part of a national chain that attempts to recreate the experience of a boisterous Italian wedding circa 1950, Buca di Beppo is crowded, noisy and fun. The wall-posted menu includes gargantuan appetizers, salads, pizza, pasta, veal, and chicken dishes made for sharing. The food is good, even if it is overshadowed by sheer portion size.
Part of a national chain that attempts to recreate the experience of a boisterous Italian wedding circa 1950, Buca di Beppo is crowded, noisy, and fun. The wall-posted menu includes gargantuan appetizers, salads, pizza, pasta, veal, and chicken dishes made for sharing. The food is good, even if it is overshadowed by sheer portion size.
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.
Live oldies, rock, and blues invigorate the weekend crowds at Under C's Lounge, the spacious basement club adjoining Carrie Cerino's Italian restaurant.
Despite its small size, Casa D'Angelo has a remarkably large and varied menu of Italian meals, including some you aren't likely to find anywhere else. Excellent choices include lemony Chicken alla Palermo and the creamy Veal Gamberetti Luigi with shrimp.
If “youthful” and “edgy” are what it takes to toss your trenne, this snug little restaurant at the far end of a Parma strip plaza may not be your kind of place. But if good-tasting Italian fare, brought forth in large portions at reasonable prices, is what makes your Alfredo creamy, look no further than the dimly lit Corleone’s.
Casually upscale yet family-friendly, this good-looking reincarnation of Hudson's old Red Tomato offers everything from pizza and pasta to filet mignon.
A fine choice for families, this bright, contemporary pizza parlor offers freshly made pies, wholesome salads and a concise selection of beer and wine, including eight microbrews on draft. Friendly staffers take small fry in stride, and while Mom and Dad unwind, the kiddies can safely watch the chefs at work from behind a glass partition.
Too often, Italian joints go heavy on the comfort and light on the quality. Not so here where owner Eddie Cerino approaches traditional Italian food less like a grandmother and more like a chef. The result is food that looks familiar but tastes modern. And thanks to half orders of salad and pasta, diners have control over portion size and price. $$$
Ferrante Winery & Ristorante
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.

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.
Blink your eyes as you zip through town, and you're likely to miss this little Italian restaurant — and that would be a shame, because the selection is broad, the preparations are sophisticated, and the prices are reasonable. For dessert, don't miss the mascarpone-dense, barely sweetened, homemade tiramisu.
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.
Gusto! Ristorante Italiano
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 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.
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.
Dimly lit, slightly scruffy and immensely popular with the locals, circa-1949 Luigi's is the epitome of old-style pizza parlors, complete with Chianti in straw-covered bottles. (It is also alleged to be the inspiration for "Montoni's" in Tom Batiuk's Funky Winkerbean.) Personal faves include the cheese-smothered tossed salad, the ultra-gooey lasagna and of course, the prize-winning pizza, loaded with zesty toppings.
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.
Every college campus needs a nearby spot like Mama Santa's, with its retro vibe, cheap wine, and stunningly inexpensive Italian eats. Thin, greaseless, crisp-crusted pizza is the specialty of the casa; when you and the gang can score a 15-incher for less than 10 bucks, who cares if there's a wait for a table?
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.
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