This is a guest blog post written by Alyssa Rodgers, The Mexitalian
Growing up, my mom’s side of the family always celebrated our Italian culture. Lucky for me, a lot of that celebration involved really delicious food. When I moved to Cleveland last year I was so pleased to find so much great Italian food and culture. From Little Italy to modern Italian restaurants there are a ton of Italian food gems in Cleveland and the surrounding area. While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, here are several of the wonderful local Italian spots.
First up, I absolutely must mention Cleveland’s own Little Italy on the east side of town. A popular spot for tourists and locals alike there are a range of shops, restaurants, and cafes in the neighborhood. It’s especially lovely on summer evenings when patios are full and the music is flowing. Mia Bella on the corner of Mayfield and Murray Hill is a well known spot for their creamy tortellini. If you are looking for a quick ingredient or sandwich, Murray Hill Market is just what you need. They offer a small selection of groceries, beer and wine. Their fresh-made Italian sandwiches really hit the spot, with options like porchetta, eggplant parmesan, and roast beef with Italian peppers and provolone.
When it comes to bakeries in Little Italy, there are strong feelings from those who are team Presti’s Bakery and those who are team Corbo’s Bakery, two bakeries just down the street from one another. I happen to be team let’s have both! I love that you can have a sandwich or hot dish from the prepared food’s case at Presti’s along with a lovely pastry or a fresh-filled cannoli and a seriously good pepperoni roll from Corbo’s.
Word on the street is that some of the restaurants in Little Italy source their pasta from Ohio City Pasta. Ohio City Pasta makes a huge variety of fresh pasta noodles and ravioli with flavors like lemon pepper pappardelle, and garlic chive linguini. You can find their pasta all around town in local shops, many grocery stores, farmer’s markets throughout northeast Ohio, and always at the West Side Market. Their delicious pasta will make for the perfect Italian feast at home.
Little Italy isn’t the only place around town for an Italian meal.
In the flats is relative new comer, Lago East Bank at the base of the Aloft Hotel. The space is small but the food is solid. Their meatballs are tender and super flavorful, a perfect appetizer or side. They also offer an extensive happy hour to fill you up without breaking the bank.
Dante Boccuzzi is one of Cleveland’s most well-know chefs as he has been named one of the top chefs in the US. You can try his Italian food (he has several other restaurants as well) at Dante Next-Door in Tremont, The D.C. Pasta Co. in Strongsville, or grab a pizza and play some bocce at Dante’s Inferno in The Flats.
Another house hold name is Cleveland is Zack Bruell and his downtown spot Chinato is another option for Italian in the city. This upscale 4th street spot provides a modern, upscale take on Italian food with hearty dishes like beef osso bucco with risotto, and paccheri, a large tube-shaped pasta, with squid and broccoli rabe.
A bit more off the beaten path is Luca Italian Cuisine. The restaurant is known for being cozy and full of character, and the food hearty and delicious. Try the calamari, white truffle and ricotta stuffed pasta, or the pollo alla piccata, chicken with a white wine, lemon, and caper sauce.
The rest of northeast Ohio is not without good Italian food. Flour, an Italian kitchen in Moreland Hills, offers a really special Italian Sunday brunch. For the full communal Italian experience, go with the whole family for a special brunch out. The pepperoni biscuits and gravy is something special, or you can opt for a big bowl of Bolognese, or a wood-fired breakfast pizza, because Italian food is good at any time of the day.
Finally, I couldn’t miss the perfect place to buy all of your Italian food needs. From imported ingredients, such as the the simplest and tasty semolina crackers, to a range of cured meats, Gallucci’s has everything you need. You can stop in and grab ingredients like fresh pasta sheets and ricotta to make your own lasagna, or frozen meals made in-house that you can enjoy with much less work. Try stopping in at lunch during the week and you will find a line almost out the door for one of their sandwiches or hot lunch counter specials. The Gus Galluci Company has been sharing fine Italian goods with Clevelanders for over 100 years and is truly something special.