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.
The first thing you want to do with a hot pizza is dig in, but if you're so inclined, go ahead and count the pepperoni first. Donatos promises that every pepperoni pizza, sized large or larger, will have at least 100 slices of lean pepperoni spread across the pie. That's just one of the many flourishes that Donatos, founded in 1963, has used to distinguish itself from the rest. There's also its Edge to Edge promise: a guarantee that every pie will be loaded from one end to the other with toppings, from said pepperoni slices to family-recipe sausage to fresh, hand-cut veggies. Donatos' formula seems to have worked, as the once small Italian eatery now spans the nation with more than 150 locations.
Beyond its classic pizzas, Donatos offers many specialty pies, including its chicken spinach mozzarella and Mariachi beef. Each is framed with naturally smoked, aged provolone cheese on top and cornmeal-encrusted dough, from a 50-year old recipe, below. Donatos even offers gluten-free pizzas on its signature Udi's crust. For those searching out other Italian fare, the menu features robust stromboli stuffed with meats and cheeses, and hearty subs. And for dessert, Donatos creates its warm cinnamon brick-street bread, an oven-baked loaf of artisan pull-apart bread with cinnamon spread, streusel, and vanilla icing.
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.
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.
Named Best Gourmet Pizza in 2010 by Cleveland Magazine, Angelo's Pizza's experienced dough-flingers conjure pies with freshly made sauce and crust alongside other Italian eats. Pizza incarnations range from the basic original with choice of toppings ($8.19+) to pies of a more radical aesthetic, such as the chicken mac 'n' cheese ($12.95–$22.25) and Acapulco barbecue chicken with pineapple and cinnamon ($12.95–$22.25). Pasta seekers can revel in spaghetti, cavatelli, penne, or fettuccini with veggie or meat toppings ($6.99–$12.29), ideal for satisfying midmeal urges to jump rope. The drink menu boasts local brews such as Great Lakes Dortmunder, as well as whites, reds, and soft drinks. Committed to customer service, Angelo's insists that patrons not 100% pleased with their eats get a replacement dish or a credit for their next visit.
Maxi's Ristorante serves up authentic Italian food for the residents of Cleveland. The restaurant has a casual but upbeat ambiance with two levels for patrons to enjoy. The upstairs will seat 50 or so people and can be reserved for special occasions. They also have a garden patio area that offers an amazing view of the Little Italy area. Maxi’s is perfect for enjoying a relaxing dinner with friends and serves lunch and dinner daily. The lunch menu is highly diverse and includes mussels, calamari, goat cheese ravioli, Italian sausage and margherita pizza, just to name a few. The dinner menu will wow you with delicious favorites like little neck clams, veal scallopini marsala, and New York strip steak. The pasta dishes are really something to write home about and include penne pasta carbonara, cavatelli with meat balls, and farfalle pasta. The pizza menu is also quite extensive and includes smoked salmon pizza. Maxi’s has specials on food and drinks daily.