'Zas 'R' Us

Cento's Family Night is kid-friendly, foodie-approved.

Ohio City Ravenna family restaurant faves

Funny how fatherhood alters your perspective. Take Jonathon Sawyer, chef-partner at Ohio City's Bar Cento (1948 West 25th Street), next door to McNulty's Bier Markt. The onetime N.Y.C. hotshot (and former executive chef at Michael Symon's Parea) welcomed his second bundle of joy into the world on October 30, and suddenly, he's noticed all the other families in the hood with kids — and how few eateries cater to them.

Sawyer's solution? A weekly family pizza night at Bar Cento, featuring "make your own" pizzas ($8 to $10) for the small fry, complete with customized, organic ingredients chosen to appeal to youthful palates and a chef's hat to take home. And while Junior makes like a mini Mario Batali, Mom and Dad can relax with one of Bar Cento's wines or McNulty's beers.

The family fun goes down each Tuesday from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Call 216-274-1010 for more info.

History repeats itself: Restaurateurs Tony and Candy Alessi are back in biz. They launched their newest Alessi's Ristorante in August at 161 North Chestnut Street in Ravenna. With former spots at the Welshfield Inn in Burton and Garretts Mill in Garrettsville, the couple has come to specialize in mid-priced Italian dining inside historic properties.

The Ravenna digs are no exception — settled into a circa-1847 home with ties to the Quaker Oats empire. Satisfy your taste for history — as well as for Alessi's salads, sandwiches, steaks, seafood, and savory pastas — during weekday lunch, or dinner each Monday through Saturday. Call 330-298-1180 for reservations.

Homespun holidays: Our favorite spot for homespun holiday shopping, Crooked River Herb Farm Shop, has relocated from downtown Peninsula to the nearby Heritage Farm (6050 Riverview Road, 330-657-2332). Owners Kathleen and John Varga's locally made edibles include herb-laced sugars, salts, honeys, and teas; sweet and savory jellies, including the new cranberry-jalapeño; toasted pecan-and-basil pesto; cheese spreads; candied nuts; and fresh focaccia — always sure bets for the foodies on our list. Holiday hours are noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

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