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
When Frank Cangemi first opened Miles Famers Market in 1971, it was a seasonal, open-air market that only sold fresh fruits and vegetables. Frank would arrive at the Northern Ohio Food Terminal at 3 a.m. every day and proceed to hand select his stock of fresh produce, carefully choosing veggies without bruises and punting overly ripe cantaloupes. This hand selection and attention to detail is something he still does to this day, even though Miles Farmers Market has expanded to a 21,000-square-foot shopping space that also houses a deli, a butcher, and a bakery.
Its cheese department hosts more than 400 varieties of cheese, which complement varietals from a wine section that Wine Spectator hailed as “outstanding.” Its bistro not only makes up quick bites but also full dinners to go. Its staffers help foodies navigate the aisles and are on hand to offer tips that range from how to ripen an unfamiliar fruit to how to successfully wash food in the dishwasher.
Yet, even with all of this, it’s the dedication to having the best produce that really draws in shoppers. For more than 40 years, Miles has fostered partnerships with local produce growers such as Burnham, Spiegelberg, and Rittman Orchards, as well as Ohio Fruit Growers. These alliances allow for a vast selection of organic and local produce that may have been ripening on the vine or stalk seven hours before hitting store shelves.
Slicing cold cuts and heaping hot pastrami into munchable mounds for more than 30 years, Jack's Deli and Restaurant offers an expansive array of classic deli fare. Retro-deli devotees are sated with a voluminous menu packed with sandwiches, such as the Hot Romanian Pastrami ($8.95) or House Turkey Off the Bone ($8.95), served on rye, wheat, challah, pumpernickel, and more. Credentialed chefs craft a bevy of specialties, such as the Maidlach ($11.95) with nova lox, cream cheese, tuna salad, and whitefish salad served on three mini bagels. Leaving nothing to the imagination, the roasted beef brisket ($10.95) is served open-faced and piping hot, with mashed potatoes and gravy or french fries. The chicken club ($9.95) takes up massive grill real estate with grilled chicken breast and grilled pastrami served on thick, grilled challah. Diners can also have their taste sponges soak up smile-inducing flavors by sampling the stuffed cabbage ($13.95) with fresh ground beef rolled into succulent, young cabbage leaves and bathed in savory sweet-and-sour sauce. With complete disregard for the sun's uncontrollable envy of the moon, breakfast is served all day, offering dishes such as the homemade corned-beef hash ($7.25) with poached eggs.
Alesci’s embraces family traditions. If it’s not already apparent by the third generation of brothers who co-manage the deli and grocer, it shimmers to the surface in the stories of old regulars and those who remember Grandpa Frank Alesci. Starting with Frank, and now for more than 50 years, the Alesci family has curated a collection of imported products, providing immigrants with the sought-after goods from across the pond. Beyond that, it’s a place for fresh, crusty bread, pizza, a myriad of cheeses, and deli meats sliced by hand. Inside the 7,000-square-foot location, shelves are lined with everything from polenta to biscotti, olives to olive oil, and peppers who share space with their natural enemy: the tomato.
Sushi on the Roll Sushi on the Roll's adroit chefs carefully wrap vinegar-sprinkled rice, nori, and fresh seafood into creations that won the restaurant Best Sushi on the 2010 Fox 8 Akron-Canton Hot List. Classic maki favorites such as an eel or salmon roll satisfy piscine cravings, and spicy rolls such as the Moffa, layered with spicy tuna and shrimp tempura, work their pleasing pyromancy on palates. The eatery's chefs also host periodic hands-on Sushi 101 classes, which divulge the secrets of making nigiri and maki rolls as well as how to grab a good night's sleep by stuffing pillows with perfectly fluffy rice.