Alesci’s Downtown: Always a smart bet for lunch

Those brown-bagged lunches may suffice for winter, but when the sun finally comes out, it’s time to hit the streets in search of midday sustenance. Always high among our recommendations for working stiffs: Alesci’s Downtown (828 Huron Rd., 216-348-8600), an unpretentious Italian eatery offering speedy, cafeteria-style service along with low prices, friendly staffers, and a full bar. Ready-to-eat options include salads, calzones, subs, or pizza, as well as a rotating selection of hearty entrees like Italian meatloaf, chicken Parmesan, and saucy ravioli. We’re particularly fond of Thursdays, when the daily special is rich, cheesy lasagna, oozing a melty magma of mozzarella, Romano, provolone, and ricotta. Served with a slab of buttery garlic bread, it’s ample, delicious, and priced at a mere $5.75. Carryout is a popular option, of course, although a long row of booths and tables provides plenty of on-the-spot seating. Other amenities include free Wifi access and, when the weather is fine, a small piece of sidewalk real estate set aside for outdoor dining. While you can count on Alesci’s being open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, evening and weekend hours vary with Gateway activities; calling ahead is always a smart move. Click here to check out the entire menu, including today’s special. -- Elaine T. Cicora
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