Few will seriously dispute the claim that The Greenhouse Tavern is one of the best restaurants in Cleveland. And the build-your-own four-course meal might be the best value I've experienced at a higher end restaurant. If you're fortunate enough to check out chef Jonathan Sawyer's downtown establishment, it's definitely worth exploring the menu as much as possible, but passing over the burgers would be a huge mistake.
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Trattorria Porretta & Pizza has grown from tiny pizzeria to a full-service Italian restaurant and banquet hall over the years in Portage Park. The family operation maintains the regional status quo in the Chicago thin crust department, but the carry-out only stuffed crust is worth sacrificing the comforts of a sit-down meal.
Michael Symon had already made it as a serious culinary and television star before he opened B Spot, his fast casual burger mini-chain in his hometown of Cleveland. As far as I'm concerned, these burgers are his crowning achievement.
I'm not going to toss all my food writing street cred out the window and tell anyone to get the grilled cheese at Edzo's instead of the burgers. But if you are in the mood for a grilled cheese, Edzo's dishes up a fun and delicious version.
Chef Tony Mantuano may be primarily known as the creator of some of the best upscale Italian food in America, but the man is undoubtedly a pizza fan. Four of his restaurants serve pizza, each with a different style. The pies at Cafe Spiaggia have elements of greatness but also some flaws that aren't apparent in at least two of his other ventures.
In a world where chefs take too many liberties when adding ingredients to the wonderfully simple grilled cheese, Chef Paul Fehribach at Big Jones sticks with Southern basics to put out a throwback sandwich that might be the best grilled cheese in town.
Dante's Pizzeria opened with the help of former employees of Piece and Santullo's. Between that pedigree and the positive reviews, I was expecting something at least pretty good. Unfortunately, the high points of my pizzas were just okay and the low points were no fun at all.
The last couple of years have seen a relative flurry of top-notch pizzeria openings in Denver and Boulder. From the crisp and chewy crust to the high quality and often creative toppings, it's quite possible that Pizzeria Basta is the best of the bunch.
Iron Chef Michael Symon doesn't have a pizzeria but based on the pie I had at his restaurant Lolita in Cleveland, he definitely should think about. The pork sausage pizza, featuring housemade sausage and an excellent crust, is too good to be relegated to a small pizza section on a menu with so many non-pizza options.
For most of J.P. Graziano's 70-plus year history, the focus has been as a wholesaler importing top-quality Italian foods. More recently, the fourth-generation owner has focused on establishing the shop's place among the best places to get a sub in Chicago.