Eating Good in the Neighborhood
Around the corner from University Circle on Mayfield Road and Murray Hill is the Little Italy neighborhood, originally settled in the late 19th century by Italian artisans. In this cozy and tight-knit community, many relatives of the original settlers still own-and-operate the restaurants, galleries and shops that line the streets.
Visitors can enjoy hearty Italian classics at Cleveland’s oldest continually operating restaurant, Guarino’s (216.231.3100, www.guarinoscleveland.com) or try a fresh serving of eggplant delicacies from Mia Bella (216.795.2355, www.miabellacleveland.com).
Be sure not to miss gelato and canoli’s from Presti’s Bakery (216.421.3060, www.prestisbakery.com) opened in 1903, a famous slice of pizza from Mama Santa’s (216.231.9567, www.mamasantas.com), or old-world Italian food in a contemporary setting at Gusto! Ristorante Italiano (216.791.9900, www.gustolittleitaly.com).
Asia Town, an up-and-coming neighborhood between ten blocks on Cleveland’s near east side, is a melting pot of Asian cultures. From Chinese dim sum, Vietnamese pho, markets with hard-to-find delicacies, to shops and galleries this neighborhood is revitalizing an area where factories once stood.
Stemming from the Catonese tradition of “going to drink tea,” some of the best dim sum in the city and endless dining possibilities are found on the serving carts at Li Wah (216.696.6556, www.liwahrestaurant.com) or Bo Loong (216.391.3113). Or diners can experience Korean mixed rice and vegetables (traditionally called bibimbap) at “no frills” establishments such as Seoul Hot Pot (216.881.1221) or Ha Ahn Korean (216.664.1152).
Hot spots in the Asia Town district really have to put their best “Pho” (a traditional rice-noodle brothy soup) forward as the debate over the best wages on between two restaurants less than two blocks apart from one another. At #1 Pho (216.781.1176) or Superior Pho (216.781.7462, www.superiorpho.com) diners delight in authentic rice and vermicelli dishes while speedy service and affordable prices make it difficult to select a favorite.
It is impossible to discuss ethnic neighborhoods without mentioning Tremont. Since the mid-1800s immigrants from a wide range of ethnicities, including Eastern Europeans, Greeks, Polish and African-Americans settled into the area due to its proximity to the steel mills and downtown. As a result the neighborhood has rich cultural and architectural diversity. Scattered throughout the west side urban neighborhood are lavish churches, stunning art galleries, boutiques and fantastic restaurants.
Tempting menu options like Bacon Guacamole and Coconut Milk Crepes entice visitors outside their comfort zone at Bac Asian American Bar (216.938.8960, www.bactremont.com) while Chef Sonmez, a native of the Elazig region of Turkey, serves an extensive variety of kebabs and traditional Turkish dishes at the Istanbul Grille (216.298.4450, www.grillistanbul.com) on Professor Street.
Culinary enthusiasts should explore Chef Zach Bruell’s ever-changing seafood and sushi menu at his upscale, contemporary restaurant Parallax (216.583.9999, www.parallaxtremont.com), enjoy American, Italian and Japanese-inspired dishes inside a historic bank building at DANTE (216.274.1200, www.restaurantdante.us) And, finish the evening with a “change your life cocktail” at the modern speakeasy, the Velvet Tango Room (216.241.8869, www.velvettangoroom.com).
- April Ingle