Friday, March 26, 2010

Neighborhood spots - East and West

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As much as we’d like to believe that every meal we have is going to be a memorable one, the truth is that many of them are just good. Is it a crime to not have a restaurant that makes it onto Travel Channel or the Food Network. The chef may not be a well known James Beard nominee or even award winner. I’m a fan of the little places that serve their local neighborhoods and put out a good product every night, just as much as those grabbing national headlines.

I’ve pulled out a handful of short reviews that I think warrant a mention. Two are pizza places and two are small restaurants. Enjoy.

Brennan’s Colony
If there’s a definition of neighborhood restaurant/bar, this is it. You can walk into this place on any given night and it will be full or very close to full. The regular menu offers a wide array of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, etc. The beers on tap had a wide variety from domestic piss to imported piss to a few craft beers. (I got DH 60 minute).

I had a particularly difficult time trying to figure out what I wanted from the specials menu because it had so many things that sounded good. After being told how good the ribs were, I compromised and ordered the pulled pork sandwich. All I can say is that it was reasonably priced, good size, and tasted good. How can you complain about that? There’s a lot of competition that has cropped up in the area in the last few years and it’s still going strong. They have good food at a good price. Probably not worth a drive across town from the west side, but if you’re in the neighborhood it’s a great place to stop.

Brennan's Colony
2299 Lee Rd
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
(216) 371-1010

Brennan's Colony on Urbanspoon

Papa Santi’s
This is a new takeout/delivery pizza place that opened about 3 or 4 months ago in Woodmere. (It sounds eerily similar to another popular pizzeria in Little Italy that I think is highly overrated.) Housed in the old Pizza Hut To Go space (near Kinko’s on Chagrin), Papa Santi’s fills a pizza void in the Woodmere/Orange/Pepperpike area.

On a night that I was flying solo I decided to give them a shot. On their website they’re described as “Sicilian Style”. When I think of Sicilian style I’m thinking square pizza, square pieces, and a butt load of dough. This is not that kind of pie. (Not that I’m complaining, as I think no human should consume that much dough in one sitting). I would describe it somewhere between bar style and Midwest style. The pizza I had (pepperoni and sausage) tasted fine but nothing I would make a special trip for. My guess is that it will fill the immediate area's need for birthday parties, football games, and sleepovers for years to come.

Papa Santi's
27521 Chagrin Blvd
Beachwood, OH 44122
(216) 896-9855

Papa Santi's on Urbanspoon

Johnny’s Little Bar
A couple months ago I stopped in and grabbed a burger with a friend. I think in my mind I may have romanticized the quality of the food there to better than it was. It wasn’t as good as I remembered it being. Had the quality dropped off? Was there something wrong with my brain that I didn’t know what good food tasted like?

I recently stopped in again to make sure I wasn’t crazy. It was while I was waiting for my burger that I realized the problem, the quality hadn’t slipped – I think Cleveland’s restaurants have just raised their burger game. There are now a lot of places that offer a high quality and imaginative hamburger now (even in the downtown area). Little Bar will never want for customers. The menu is a good value and the food is solid. If I could change anything it would be that they add one more server. I have always felt as if there are too many customers for the waitstaff to adequately handle.

Johnny's Little Bar
614 Frankfort Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113

(216) 861-2166

Little Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Big Guy’s Pizza

This Tremont pizza place is actually a takeout place that will serve pizza at Hotz’s Café (directly next door), if you want to sit down and eat. They effectively use Hotz’s as a shared dining room. I’m guessing that Hotz’s doesn’t mind this since it seems to be more bar than café.

I think the surrounding neighborhood represents the lion’s share of Big Guy’s business. Again, the pizza is in that Midwest/Bar Pizza genre. They do put what I remember them calling a “Garlic Bomb” (used to be a whole bulb, but now a half bulb of roasted garlic) in the middle of the pie. It smells awesome when you open the box, but you aren’t quite sure what to do with it once it comes time to eat. Are you supposed to squeeze the roasted garlic out of the skins onto the pizza? I don't know. It’s a decent pizza, but nothing I would make a special trip for.

Big Guy's Pizza
2539 W 10th St
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 436-8888

Big Guys Pizza on Urbanspoon


  1. Love the Colony! And I agree that our local neighborhood bistros and other favorites deserve recognition as well. Sometimes the best food you find is in a small hole-in-the-wall place!

  2. Love the blog, Cal! Have you been to Conte's Italian restaurant in Brookpark? It is a hole in the wall, but I thought the food was amazing and all homemade. I would be interested in your take on it.

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