Early every morning, the chefs of Joey’s Restaurant peruse Cleveland’s markets for the freshest vegetables and meats to incorporate into marinara-oozing lasagna, sherry-sautéed scampi, or Sicilian-style pizza. Chefs adhere to authentic family recipes that have been in use for more than 30 years, starting with fresh batches of homemade noodles that soak in sauces such as marinara, alfredo, or garlic butter. Servers set down dishes on red-checkered tables, organizing the plates family-style so each guest can sample and share dishes without having to compete for bites in a fierce game of musical chairs, and the exposed brick in the dining room adds a romantic air to a night on the town.
Gionino's Pizzeria serves up Italian and American eats ranging from pizza and pasta to fried chicken and wings. Specialty pizzas include the mediterranean, topped with spinach, feta, and roasted red peppers, and Gionino's Best, a signature pie with nine toppings, including four meats and veggies such as black olives, banana peppers, and mushrooms. Fried chicken is prepared in peanut oil, and unbreaded chicken wings are slathered in a choice of seven sauces, including hot, honey mustard, or spicy garlic.
Jim Cucuzza serves as both co-owner and chef at Bongiorno's Family Ristorante & Pizzeria, where he crafts traditional Southern Italian food in a casual, family friendly environment. Just because the dining room and heated outdoor patio welcome casually-dress patrons, though, doesn't mean the food isn't gourmet. In fact, one of the compliments Chef Cucuzza regularly receives is the suggestion that he should be baking dishes like his chicken and sausage arrabiatta in some swank New York hot spot. Occasionally, diners will quietly confess that his homemade gravy trumps even their grandma's recipe.
For guests who don't know where to start, Chef Cucuzza recommends checking out a few of the menu's hidden gems. His suggestions included the halibut romano—encrusted with a cheese and bread crumb coating soaked in lemon butter sauce—or the calamari steak appetizer, a hearty slice of squid sauteed in with homemade tomato sauce. Though Jim's favorites are seafood-focused, he promises that the menus "[have] something for everyone. Everything I cook is to order, [using] fresh ingredients."
And by everyone, he even means pint-sized diners. The chef puts together a children's menu featuring kid-friendly Italian favorites. Meanwhile, adults can enjoy a happy hour every Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., accompanied on Fridays by live music on the patio during warmer months.
Cuisine Type: Italain
Reservations: Not necessary
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 11–25
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: veal
Alcohol: Full bar
Delivery / Take-out: Parking garage
Outdoor Seating: Yes
Eddie's Pizzeria Cerino serves fresh Italian dishes crafted with the fusion of family recipes and modern culinary experience. Owner Eddie Cerino's passion for food began in his grandmother's kitchen, where he would watch her prepare meals for friends and family. He took in the aromas and witnessed how, like receiving a paycheck delivered by puppies, her dishes would brighten guests' spirits. When forging his pizzeria's menu, Eddie combined his family's cherished recipes with techniques and flavors he discovered over the course of his career. Today, guests indulge their cravings with entrees prepared under the direction of a Cerino family member, such as gourmet pizzas topped with wild mushrooms and sausage and butternut-squash ravioli in a butter-sage sauce.
Verso has expanded the traditional range of Italian fare to include Verso chips ($7), a deliciously seasoned stack of house-made potato chips heaped with provolone cheese, chunks of bacon, and green onion. Basic pizzas range from $6 to $16 to start, depending on size and shape (circle or sheet—sheets require 12 to 24 hours of advance notice to ensure their 800-thread-count goodness). Try a specialty option, such as a Caribbean ($18 for a large), topped with honey-lime oil, provolone, jerk chicken, mangos, caramelized onions, and cilantro. Sandwiches are available for easy gripping—bite into a chicken Philly ($7) with roasted chicken, sautéed peppers, mushrooms, onions, and cheese served on a hoagie. Pasta ranges from $9 to $11, with meaty additions running an extra $2 to $3, and comes in every imaginable shape and length, including whole-wheat penne. Wash it all down with a variety of $2 beverages, or imbibe from the beer and wine lists ($4 to $16).
Danny Boy's is a neighborhood, Rat Pack–themed Italian foodery with walls covered in records and photos of Frank Sinatra. Start a meal with garlic bread with cheese ($6.99) while perusing a classic Italian menu, which features salads, woogie melts, Rat Pack pizza starters, and more. The Hammy Davis Jr. stuffs sliced ham, ricotta, feta, fresh basil, tomatoes, house Italian dressing, cheddar, and crumbled bleu cheese into a baked doughy monument ($7.99). Frank's appetizer pizza pie is wall-to-wall EVOO, pepperoni, cheese, black olives, tomatoes, ricotta, and Italian spices ($8.99), and a plain cheese pizza ($9.99/six piece) can be customized with toppings, such as mushrooms, pineapple, and Canadian bacon. Uptown toppings, such as meatballs, artichoke hearts, and grilled shrimp ($1.50–$7.50) turn any standard disc into a visually stimulating feast.