Michael Petrakis immigrated to America in 1972 from the island of Crete, where dining is an integral part of social life. In opening Michael's, Petrakis aimed to bring the community some of the warm hospitality of Crete, an attitude embodied in his annual Thanksgiving dinners. Every year since 1983, he and his wife Anna have solicited the help of their staff and a dozen volunteers to serve free holiday dinner to everyone who comes through their doors––an average of 1,400–2,000 meals.
The quaint dining room at Michael's relies on homey touches such as stained glass windows and dangling flower baskets. Illuminated by natural light from large picture windows, diner-style tables support dishes ranging from Greek gyros to pizzas and build-your-own pasta. Those dishes are the work of Dino Tsarnas, a veteran of Cleveland Grill. He brings skills acquired there to a selection of Greek appetizers. Between trips to the restaurant's salad bar, guests can sip a glass of wine or connect to the restaurant's free WiFi.
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.
Few bars can boast a brunch menu as notable as their pours. But Around the Corner’s hot coconut cakes nabbed it a spot on Cleveland Magazine’s 30 Best Breakfast Dishes in 2012. Inspired by head chef Sonny Zarlis’s Indonesian upbringing, the light, crispy pancakes include coconut milk, a touch of Coco Lopez, and grated coconut on top—his mother’s recipe. But when morning fades to night and the sun becomes a mere puddle of butter in the sky, the eatery fills the brunch-shaped hole in customers’ bellies with a dinner menu of burgers, wings, and fajitas. Accompanied by local and craft beers, meals unfold amid live music and TV screens.
More than $1 million worth of artwork, live music, and a menu of coffee drinks percolate through Beck Cafe, situated next to the culture-infused Beck Center for the Arts. Instead of soliciting piggyback rides from strangers, visitors can sip steaming cups of Beck coffee ($1.80 for a medium) for quick pick-me-ups. Cafe mochas ($3.65 for a medium) conjure the dark magic of espresso beans to battle Ghirardelli white hot chocolates ($3 for a medium) for the title of sweetest sip.
Guys Pizza Co. is all about a custom pizza-eating experience, allowing diners to pick everything from the crust to the sauce to the toppings. Whether it's a New York–style, gluten-free, or Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, each pie comes loaded with a slightly sweet classic tomato sauce, zesty red sauce, white garlic recipe, or pesto sauce. Next come the meaty toppings—such as gyro meat or pulled pork—and fresh veggies, including green peppers, spinach, and olives. For the pizza averse, Guys also churns out burgers, wings, quesadillas, and sandwiches.
The culinary technicians at Johnny Malloy's Sports Pub dish out a menu of palate-pleasing game-day specialties. Warm up injury-prone teeth with a quintet of wings ($4.25) in one of 15 flavors, from mild-mannered Texas sweet to saucy hot garlic buffalo. Carnivorous canines can chomp at the Malloy classic, a half-pound patty cloaked in melted swiss and sautéed mushrooms ($7.99) or a succulent half slab of ribs ($11.99). The mexican pizza, a dough disk painted in taco sauce, two cheeses, tortilla chips, and a multitude of south-of-the-border fixings ($12.99+), transports diners to the guacamole-paved streets of Cancun. A slice of creamy cheesecake ($3.99) sweetens the dessert menu.