Open since 1963, Donatos peddles its doughy, cheese-covered delicacies in nearly 200 stores across five states. The Northcoast Double Sausage Pizza is the newest creation from Donatos thin crust sooth-sayers. The pie balances savory forces with both Donatos family recipe sausage and mild Italian sausage undulating on a taste-bud teeter-totter. Stitched together with a mélange of provolone, mozzarella, and cheddar cheeses, the pizza is blanketed by a patchwork of caramelized onions and banana peppers. See the sidebar for a list of all 18 participating Donatos locations.
As if wafting from an autumnal bonfire, the sweet, smoky aroma of maple and oak saturates The Wood Fire Grille all evening long. That’s because every entree passes over the titular grill’s searing flames, from succulent cuts of aged Angus beef to flaky Atlantic salmon to crispy pizzas and sandwich platters. In counterbalance with the kitchen’s sizzling heat and smoky aromas, The Wood Fire Grille’s dining room ensconces guests in cool chromes and gauzy blues illuminated by tiny pendant lights. Dining companions can also sup on the wrought-iron patio and incur the envy of passing traffic helicopters.
A colorful mural of a lakeside beach stretches across Casita del Lago's dining room—a nod to the restaurant's name, which translates to "little house by the lake." Soft hanging lanterns and a crackling fireplace bathe the room in light, illuminating the colorful glazed pottery that lines the walls. In the kitchen, chefs chop fresh ingredients for the homemade salsa that glazes over traditional dishes, as saucepans simmer with their signature mole sauce. Behind a sprawling bar, bartenders dole out pitchers of fruity margaritas and bottles of imported Mexican beer. Outside, tabletops speckle their outdoor patio and bar, where guests can bask beneath the sunlight.
At Dervish Grill, chefs recreate dishes that have been a part of Mediterranean and Turkish culture for centuries. However, just because the recipes are old doesn't mean that the ingredients aren't fresh. On the contrary, each day, chefs turn fresh vegetables and spices into beloved treats including stuffed grape leaves, tabouli, and their signature Dervish salad--a conglomeration of arugula, grapes, walnuts, and feta tossed with pomegranate vinaigrette.
Chefs also observe another important Middle Eastern tradition—all meat dishes, from the succulent filet mignon kebab to eggplant stuffed with ground beef and lamb—are made with Halal meats. They're also happy to make dishes more or less spicy, and maintain a selection of vegetarian options for those that prefer to dine meat-free.
No matter what entrees they choose, diners often pair their meals with a Turkish tipple from the restaurant's selection of more than two dozen wines. The drink menu is home to traditional staples, such as Turkish tea and coffee, but also spotlights imported Turkish malts and locally brewed craft beer.
How did Vintage House Café begin?
As a family venture. We started as a restaurant, then added a patio, tearoom, and gift shop. Not only do we offer a large selection of loose-leaf tea, but my son is a glass artist and we sell his blown glass art work.
Aside from owner, what role do you play in the restaurant?
I always enjoyed baking, so I create all the desserts.
Tell us a little about the head chef.
Chef Grant Urmston is a native Clevelander, whose passion for culinary arts began at a young age. His passion grew over the years, and he further developed his skills at the renowned Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. With career stops that included New York, Boston, and Las Vegas, Grant has brought a more traditional Italian and Mediterranean flair to the menu, all while trying to focus more on fresh and local products.
What inspires you to take such a hands-on role in the restaurant?
I love being here and our customers make me smile.
Only a stone’s throw from Lake Erie, Amber Oaks’ outdoor patio pulses with mid-day light peeking through overhanging trees. As dusk sets in, the turquoise-rimmed glass tables transform to a darker blue, and the twinkling string lights outline the restaurant’s silhouette. Clients, both indoors and out, feast on traditional pork chops, behemoth steaks, Lake Erie perch, and all-you-can-eat frogs legs. For more than 30 years, this has been the norm at Amber Oaks: a cozy family-run eatery with a chef who pledges to only serve made-to-order dishes that are never frozen. On the weekend guests spooling pastas in delicate wine sauce, can treat their ears to weekend jam sessions with Swing City Big Band.