Michaelangelo’s

Thanks to a good review by Jeff and Michele Eat Cleveland, we decided to try Michaelangelo’s in Little Italy.  We are so glad we did.  It is a little gem that we didn’t know existed.

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FRIED ARTICHOKES STUFFED WITH CRAB AND ROASTED RED PEPPER PUREE

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KOBE BEEF TENDERLOIN CARPACCIO, LEMON, CAPERS, PARMIGIANO REGGIANO

He said…Who doesn’t enjoy fried food!  I liked the combination of the artichoke and crab and thought the roasted red pepper puree was a nice complement.  However, the carpaccio was easily the star of the evening.  The combination of the components tasted fresh and delicious.  It’s definitely a dish I would go back for.

She said…The fried artichokes were interesting.  I liked the concept, and I really wanted to like them, but I found them to be a little bland.  Maybe it was because the carpaccio was so bursting with flavor.  This is the best beef carpaccio that I have ever had.  The flavors were so fresh and bright.  I loved every bite!

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PAPPARDELLE ALLA BOLOGNESE
FLAT RIBBONS OF PASTA, VEAL, MUSCOVY DUCK, GUINEA FOWL
AND TOMATO-BAROLO RAGÙ

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SACCHETTI AL TARTUFO
RICOTTA AND BLACK TRUFFLE STUFFED PASTA AND BLACK TRUFFLE CREAM SAUCE

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RAVIOLI DI VITELLO CON FUNGHI E TARTUFI
VEAL AND TRUFFLE RAVIOLI, MUSHROOM TRIFOLATA AND FONTINA CHEESE

He said…I thought two of the pasta dishes were excellent, but the sacchetti al tartufo was my favorite.  The dish was very rich and I’m not sure I could have finished an entree size portion by myself, but it was the standout of the three that we tried.  My next favorite was the ravioli, however, I’m partial to any dish with mushrooms.  Last, I thought the bolognese was a tad under-seasoned.

She said…My favorite of the three pasta dishes was by far the ricotta and black truffle.  It was utterly amazing!  The pasta was so fresh and perfectly cooked in all the dishes, but that cream sauce was so creamy and decadent, it surpassed the others in overall satisfaction for me.  The veal ravioli was also good.  I liked the earthiness of the mushrooms and the overall saltiness (but not too much) of the dish.  The bolognese was my least favorite of the three.  There just wasn’t as much flavor in the sauce as I had expected.  I prefer the bolognese at Dante, which is full of that rich, meaty flavor.

After all of that food and a great bottle of Brunello to go along with it, we were stuffed and happy.  The service was fantastic, and we also really liked the atmosphere. We will definitely be back!

Michaelangelo's on Urbanspoon

Bistro on Main

She said…

We’ve been to Bistro on Main in Kent on a few occasions, and have had good experiences.  My mom and I stopped in for a late lunch recently.  We shared a salad and a sandwich.

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Seared Scallop and Baby Spinach Salad with crispy smoked bacon, green onion vinaigrette, crumbled feta cheese and pine nuts

We enjoyed the salad.  All the components were fresh and worked well together.  The only flaw was that we were expecting a little more in the way of scallops.

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Grilled Ham and Cheese – slow braised pulled pork shoulder, fontina and gruyere cheese, marble rye

This had the chance to be such a great sandwich, but fell a little flat because the pork was not seasoned.  We added some salt, which helped a bit.  It was juicy and tender, but disappointing because it could have been so much better.

We’ve always had good service here, and this lunch was no exception.  We like the atmosphere in the cozy bar as well.  Although the meal wasn’t perfect, we like Bistro on Main and will go back.

Bistro on Main on Urbanspoon

Moe’s

We were looking for a late night dinner on a recent Friday night, and decided on Moe’s in Cuyahoga Falls.  We’ve been to Moe’s many times over the years, and it’s always a good experience.  We like that you can have an upscale meal in a casual atmosphere on the bar side of the restaurant.

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He said…This was a very rich late night meal!  The salmon was cooked and seasoned well.   The pasta was a goat cheese ravioli, which according to our server, was from Ohio City Pasta.  The ravioli was delicious, however, it was a little over done.  Also, as you can see from the picture, there was a lot of oil and butter in the sauce.  Overall, it was a solid dish, but not something that I would order right before I went to bed!

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She said…I really liked this dish.  The gnudi (ricotta dumplings) were pillowy and delicious. I love brussels sprouts, and these were perfectly cooked and well seasoned.  I would’ve given this dish an A+ if it would’ve arrived at the table hot.  It was warm at best, but still tasty.  I had a glass of Troublemaker, a hearty red blend recommended by our server, which I really enjoyed.  I appreciate a server with a personality and a good recommendation.

We’ve had consistently good food and good service at Moe’s.  We recommend it.

Moe's on Urbanspoon

Jeni Jones

We’ve been jonesing for some Jenis’s ice cream!  There are several of their signature flavors that you can get at the grocery store, but to partake in their perennial flavors and experience their newest brilliant flavor combinations, you have to go to the source.  A few new tasty flavors at our favorite ice cream place

Double-Toasted Coconut with sea salt

Sweet Potato with torched marshmallows

Banana Cajeta

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The Banana Cajeta was our favorite of these three.  Cajeta is a goat’s milk caramel.  The combination of the fresh banana taste and the creamy caramel was a winner.  Our daughter usually gets the Milkiest Chocolate or the Salty Caramel, but she recently branched out to the Dark Chocolate Peppermint and declared it the new favorite!

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Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

L’Albatros

We love overnight date night!  We recently spent a night at Glidden House  and made the most of a night out (and a lazy morning) without kids.  Glidden House is a lovely boutique hotel in the University Circle area.  We dined at L’Albatros, which is conveniently located within walking distance.

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Selection of five cheeses

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“French Toast” with ragout of wild mushrooms and balsamic syrup

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Escargots with toasted garlic and fennel butter

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Goat Cheese Tart with olives and sun dried tomatoes

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Veal Short Rib with wild mushroom risotto and veal jus

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Cassoulet – braised white beans, pork belly, lamb, duck confit and sausages

He said…I had a more favorable impression of the restaurant after our second visit.  I loved the cheese course, which our cheesemonger helped us navigate through the many choices.  Our server mentioned that the preparation of the cassoulet was a deconstructed version of the classic dish and I was very eager to try it.  The dish was right up my alley as it was a meat lovers dream!  All the pieces of meat were cooked beautifully and the duck confit was very rich in flavor and taste.  The sausages were good but not as flavorful as I would have preferred.  Overall, however, the dish was a perfect meal on a cold winter’s night.

She said…I keep hearing about how everyone loves this restaurant.  I guess I’m the exception.  This is the second time I’ve eaten here, and I’m just not a big fan.  The best part of this meal for me was the cheese.  I loved all of the selections that the cheesemonger picked for our table, and I’d honestly go back to just sit at the bar and eat cheese and drink wine.  It’s mostly that I’m just not that into this style of cooking.  It’s a little too traditional for my taste.  I enjoyed the appetizers more than the main dish.  I thought the take on French toast was pretty interesting and the goat cheese tart was tasty.  The veal short rib dish was just ok.  It wasn’t as tender as I expected, and the flavors were very one note.  The last time I ate here I had the beef bourguignonne, and it also wasn’t as tender and flavorful as I had hoped.  I think I’ll stick with cheese.

Although we may have differing opinions about L’Albatros, we do agree that it was a great night with great friends, and we won’t wait too long before we do it again!

L'Albatros on Urbanspoon

Deagan’s Kitchen and Bar

We have heard a lot of good things about Deagan’s Kitchen & Bar in Lakewood, so when we found ourselves on that side of town (which doesn’t happen too often) we decided to check it out.

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Baked Goat Cheese spicy tomato sauce, basil, crostini

We really wanted to start with the reuben pierogies, but they were out of them, so we went with the goat cheese.  It was good, but not really a memorable dish that we would go back for.  

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Meatloaf mashed potatoes, green beans, carrots, mushroom gravy

He said…The meatloaf was seasoned well and I really enjoyed the mushroom gravy. However, the meatloaf was not served hot and the mashed potatoes were a little bland for me.  With the mushroom gravy, it would have been interesting to turn the dish into an open face sandwich with a killer homemade bread.

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Chicken & Waffle cheddar-scallion waffle, collard greens, cayenne butter, maple syrup

She said…The chicken was good.  It was super crispy.  I also thought the collard greens were pretty tasty.  I didn’t really care for the waffle or the cayenne butter.  I couldn’t taste the cheddar or the scallion in the waffle, and the cayenne butter was lacking in flavor. Usually, with a chicken and waffle dish you get that great sweet and savory combination, and it just didn’t come through here.

We liked the casual atmosphere.  Although we sat in the bar area, it still had a family friendly feel.  The beer selection was a high point for us, and we also appreciated the focus on local, seasonal products.  There were quite a few things on the menu that looked worth trying, so we would be willing to go back.

Deagan's Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

Back to D.B.A.

We recently headed back to Dante Bucuzzi’s D.B.A. in Akron and had the chance to try a few more items on the menu.

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Hawaiian Tuna Tartare - purple potatoes, poached egg, chive remoulade

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Hudson Valley Foie Gras – “bananas foster” pickled walnuts, crisp plantains

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Surf and Turf - braised beef short rib, seared scallops, celery variations

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Ricotta Cavatelli – sweet gorgonzola cream, toasted walnuts

We thought everything was good.  The foie gras was a little on the sweet side for our taste, and the scallops were just a tiny bit overcooked, but overall, it was a good experience.  We loved the cavatelli, and would definitely order it again.  There was a tanginess and a sweetness that made a perfect combination, along with the texture and nutty flavor from the toasted walnuts.  This place is a much needed addition to the Akron dining scene.  The vibe is lively, although a bit loud for intimate conversation.  We have been consistently happy with our dining experiences here, and we will certainly be back.

Dba [Dante Boccuzzi Akron] on Urbanspoon

Biga Wood Fired Pizzeria

We’ve been hearing quite a bit about Biga lately.  Kirtland is not close for us, but we happened to be out that way, so we decided to give it a try.  We are glad we did!  This is the best pizza we have had in a very long time!

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Margherita Pizza
Made-in-house fresh tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese and locally-grown basil

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Fresh, Sweet Sausage Pizza
Freshly crafted-in-house sweet sausage, locally-grown oregano, made-in-house tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese

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Special of the day – dates, prosciutto and rosemary cream

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Ho Ho

He said…My favorite pizza of the night was the specialty pizza.  I thought the ingredients, including the prosciutto, were excellent.  I especially liked the rosemary cream sauce, which was delicious.  I liked the margherita and the sausage pizza, however, I think I prefer Crostata’s versions of both pizzas.  In particular, I like Crostata’s sausage, which is spicier.  The dessert was just OK for me as the cake was a little dry.

She said…The crust!  The delicious, crispy yet chewy, flavorful devine crust!  There was a lot of talk comparing this pizza to Crostatas during this meal, but Biga has the clear edge in the crust department in my opinion.  And that specialty pizza with the rosemary cream was to die for!  It was the perfect balance of sweet and savory.  I agree that the Salsiccia pizza at Crostatas has a spicier flavor, which I also prefer, however, the Biga menu did describe the sausage as sweet.  The dessert was disappointing.  I can remember tearing open that silver Hostess Ho Ho wrapper and devouring it at lunch as a kid in school. Maybe it was the nostalgia, and the fact that they are no longer making them that made me order it.  Those Little Debbie impersonators are just not the same.  Unfortunately, this one was dry and pretty tasteless.  I’d skip dessert next time, but who cares?  The pizza is worth the trip.

There were a few mishaps with the service (one of our requests forgotten and the bill was not totaled when brought to us), but our server was young and very apologetic in a self deprecating way, so it didn’t bother us at all.  If Biga was closer to home, we would surely be regular customers.  The distance may keep us from going back often, but the pizza guarantees that we will be back!

Biga Wood Fired Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Retro Dog

He said…I love a good hot dog, and I’ve been wanting to check out Retro Dog since they opened back in the spring.  I finally had the chance last weekend.

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Ice cold Retro Dog Home Brewed Root Beer on draft

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Retro Dog – char-grilled natural casing dog topped with homemade Coney sauce, cheese sauce and diced onion

Carolina Dog – char-grilled natural casing dog topped with homemade Coney sauce coleslaw and yellow mustard

This is one of the better lunches I’ve had in a while.  I enjoyed both dogs, however, I have to give the edge to the Carolina Dog due to the creamy coleslaw and tangy yellow mustard.  And what better way to enjoy a hot dog than with an ice cold root beer.  The only criticism I have of the dogs is the bun, which is so large it almost overwhelms the dog.  In other words, the bread to dog ratio was off a bit.  Overall, I liked Retro Dog, and I would go back.  I haven’t had a chance to try Happy Dog yet, but it is next on my hot dog list!

Retro Dog on Urbanspoon

A Special Occasion at The Refinery

While spending some time in Florida over the winter break, we had a very special evening at one of our favorite restaurants in the Tampa area, The Refinery.  We contacted The Refinery a few weeks ahead of time to see if they could accommodate our party of fourteen.  Although it’s a fairly small place, they made room for us, and made some great dishes inspired by some of our requests.

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Little Neck Clams – bacon-shrimp-yellow tomato broth, escarole, eggplant cracker

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Salad – house ricotta, beet, tomato, sherry-leek vinaigrette

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BBQ Ugly – soy-vinegar braised pork belly, green peppercorn biscuit, duxelle, smoked tomato compote, whey, scallion oil

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Pink Florida Gulf Shrimp – garlic, anchovy, escarole, lemon-green peppercorn polenta cake, mizuna, nutmeg vinaigrette

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Hanger Steak – roasted potatoes, broccoli pesto, mustard greens, salsa verde

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Beer and Peppercorn Braised Pork Shoulder – tasso grit cakes, collards, kumquat jam

He said…As you can see from the meal, pork was definitely the featured item.  The BBQ Ugly was one of the most creative dishes that I have eaten and it was delicious. The braised pork shoulder was superb and the tasso grit cakes were inspired.  The other highlight for me were the little neck clams.  In particular, the broth had a delicious bacon flavor.

She said…Everything was good, but the star of the evening for me was by far the BBQ Ugly.  I could’ve eaten a bunch of those little porky pot pies!  The pork was so moist and flavorful, and that biscuit was perfection.  The many ingredients all came together in a fantastic way.

Thanks to the efforts of Chef Baker and his wife Michelle, we had a very memorable evening.  We love chef’s creativity, and were thrilled that he incorporated some of our suggestions into the menu.  As always, we give The Refinery two thumbs up!