Thursday, March 31, 2011

Santo Suosso

The Santo Suosso's Pizza

Regina happened to be out in Medina for a gymnastics meet and asked if I had any requests for dinner. In an ideal world she'd be picking up the pizza from my childhood - the almighty Rustic Inn. (I'll take a large pepperoni and sausage please.) In an ideal world not only would Rustic Inn still be open, but I'd also have six-pack abs, and possession of last week's winning Mega Millions ticket.

Rustic Inn is long gone, my abs...well, I haven't seen those in I don't know how long, and the Mega Million's? Well, I'm writing this aren't I?

Santo Suosso's is known for making a good pie. This little Italian restaurant opened long after I left Medina as a teenager, but people have told me, "Man, you've got a try their pizza."

My wife got home and handed me the box. Upon opening it, I have to say it looked pretty good. The crust was was very Rustic Inn-esque. The crimped edge didn't have an overly doughy-ness to it. The pepperoni and cheese are what I would consider similar to what you find in this area, but the sausage was a nice addition to both the flavor and texture of the slice.

I'd say this place cranks out out solid pizza. If I was in the neighborhood (in this case the city of Medina), I'd stop in and pick something up. I can't speak about the actual restaurant. I've never stepped through the door. Santo Suosso does, however, offer a full slate of Italian entrees and dessert.

Santo Suosso's
3725 Medina Rd
Medina, OH 44256

(330) 764-9888

Santo Suosso's on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 21, 2011

Barbecue Classes in NE Ohio

Another hour should do it.

There's a saying, "Where there's smoke, there's fire."

I'll take that old adage one step further by saying, "Where there's smoke and fire, there's most likely a group of men nearby swizzling beers and cooking meat."

We're getting to that part of the winter/spring (whatever you choose to call it here in NE Ohio), when men (and women, but mostly men) across the land start to get that urge for a more primitive kind of cooking. Weber grills sleepily rub their eyes as they're rolled out the garage from a long winter nap. Hardware and home improvement stores switch over displays from snow blowers to gas grills and charcoal pits in hopes ensnaring impulse shoppers.

These weekend warriors range anywhere from the fanatical (that would be me, my grill did not get any sleep this winter), to the occasional hot dog and burger griller. It doesn't really matter if you grill or if you barbecue, and there is a difference, various opportunities across Northeast Ohio exist to expand your outdoor cooking horizons.

I've compiled a cursory list of barbecue and grilling classes that are quickly filling up at various locations in the area.

This first class I've actually been to. I can personally attest to the amount of knowledge visiting instructor Chris Marks shares and the quality of class put on by the folks at Heat Exchange Hearth & Patio Shoppe, in North Ridgeville. I went to the Ribs and Chicken class last year and it was an absolute bargain at $75. Like last year, Ribs and Chicken is a longer in depth class on Saturday. I'll be attending the Loin/Tenderloin class on Friday night ($50). Make sure to bring your camera so you can get your picture taken with me, I don't sign autographs!

Seriously, if you have any interest in going to this event at Heat Exchange on April 29 0r 30, I'd call now. Since the class is listed on the KCBS website, there are a number of out-of-towners that attend. I find that I learn as much from the students as I do the instruction. I happened to be seated at a table with a husband and wife that had the same cooker I did and we traded secrets. The students attending were pretty hardcore and asked a lot of really good questions. It was an absolute blast. Click here for more details.

I would say these other classes are geared more toward those who want to cook with fire more so than smoke. Judging by the descriptions I'd say they're geared more toward the grilling end of the spectrum more than barbecue. I've personally taken at least one class from Western Reserve and Paganini and felt that they both gave me what I paid for.

I haven't taken any of Viking's classes, but have heard that you have to be clear on whether it's a demo class or a hands on class. The Barbecue Basics class is classified as a workshop, so I'm guessing that means hands on. The class on April 10th runs from 6pm-9pm and is almost sold out (I told you people were getting the itch), so again don't wait. Click here for more details.

Western Reserve School of Cooking in Hudson has the Outdoor Grilling Series for $312 or $80 for an individual class. The series consists of Grilling 101, Perfectly Grilled Seafood, The Right Cut for Grilling, and Ribs, Ribs, and More Ribs. These classes run on dates in April and May. Click here for more details (scroll about three quarters of the way down the page).

The Loretta Paganini School of Cooking is putting on The Barbecue & Grilling Boot Camp for $195, on May 14th. This is another class that is nearly sold out. LPSC is offering an 8 hour monster of a class that sounds like it's actual barbecue focused. (I'm always leery of barbecue classes that run three hours. What are you going to smoke in 3 hours? Chicken tenders?) The length of this one leads me to believe that low and slow is going to be the order of the day. Two kinds of ribs, pork shoulder, beer can chicken, smoked salmon, and brisket will be the taught.

I realize Old Man Winter is not easily loosening his grip on the weather here in Cleveland, but before you know it there will be leaves on the trees, sunshine on your shoulders, and smoke in the air.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Single Most Awesome Charity Event

If there is one charity food event to go to in your lifetime, The Great Chefs Event in Philadelphia is it. The joint partnership of Alex's Lemonade Stand and the Vetri Foundation for Children has put together a lineup of chef talent that aspires to match the tour de force that is Alex Scott's legacy (please read this link to hear about this amazing story).

As these charity events typically go, the venues are usually outdoors and at the mercy of the summer weather. Could be warm, could be hot. Could be dry, could be pouring rain. Tents and port-a-potties are standard fare for these large events. When decided to go TGCE last year, we weren't quite sure how this was going to go over in the notorious Philly heat and humidity.

In this case the venue adds to aura of this event, rather than detracting from it. First and foremost, it's indoors and air conditioned! Secondly, the Urban Outfitters headquarters is one of the coolest building interiors you will ever see, old jib cranes have been turned into lights, industrial artwork is scattered throughout, and the the remnants of its past have been incorporated into the decor. The designers from Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie (who's studios are in the adjacent buidings) make for a wonderful experience.

This year's chef lineup is very similar to last year's with some additions and subtractions:

*new chefs for this year are highlighted in orange

  • Robert Aiken - Dandelion, Philadelphia, PA
  • Kiong Bahn - Twenty Manning, Philadelphia, PA
  • Franklin Becker - Abe & Arthur's, New York, NY
  • Jonathan Benno - Lincoln, New York, NY
  • John Besh - Besh Restaurant Group
  • Chris Bianco - Pizzeria Bianco / Pane Bianco / Bar Bianco, Phoenix, AZ
  • Marco Canora - Hearth, New York, NY
  • Andrew Carmellini - Locanda Verde, New York, NY
  • Jennifer Carroll - 10 Arts, Philadelphia, PA
  • Tom Colicchio - Colicchio & Sons / Top Chef, New York, NY
  • Gina DePalma - Babbo, New York, NY
  • Vinny Dotolo & Jon Shook - Animal Restaurant, Los Angeles, CA
  • Andrea Forcella - Ol Fa, Bergamo, Italy
  • Paolo Frosio - Frosio, Italy
  • Jose Garces - Garces Restaurant Group, Philadelphia, PA
  • Suzanne Goin & David Lentz - Lucques / A.O.C. / Tavern / Hungry Cat, Los Angeles, CA
  • Gabrielle Hamilton - Prune Restaurant, New York, NY
  • Paul Kahan - Blackbird / Avec / Publican / Big Star, Chicago, IL
  • Mark Ladner - Del Posto, New York, NY
  • Barbara Lynch - Barbara Lynch Gruppo, Boston, MA
  • Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson - Frasca Food & Wine / Frasca Caffe / Pizzeria Locale, Boulder, CO
  • Joseph Manzare - Zuppa / Globe /Tres Agaves, San Francisco, CA
  • Matt Molina & Nancy Silverton - Osteria Mozza / Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles, CA
  • Ken Oringer - Clio / Uni Sashimi Bar / Coppa, Boston, MA
  • Marco Rossi & Francesco Cereda - Osteria Le Cantine D, Bergamo, Italy
  • Aaron Sanchez - Food Network Star / Centrico
  • Jonathon Sawyer - The Greenhouse Tavern, Cleveland, OH
  • Mindy Segal - Mindy's HotChocolate Restaurant and Dessert Bar, Chicago, IL
  • Michael Solomonov - Zahav / Percy Street, Philadelphia, PA
  • Hiro Sone - Terra Restaurant / Ame, Napa Valley, CA
  • Daniel Stern - Midatlantic / R2L, Philadelphia, PA
  • Michael Schwartz - Michael's Gourmet Food & Drink, Miami, Fl
  • David Swinghamer - Shake Shack, New York, NY
  • Michael Symon - Lola / Lolita / Roast /Bar Symon /BSpot, Cleveland, OH
  • Sue Torres - Suenos, New York, NY
  • Jonathan Waxman - Barbuto, New York, NY
  • Rocco Whalen - Fahrenheit Restaurant / Rocky River Wine Bar, Cleveland, OH
It's great to see the Cleveland representation with Rocco, Syman, and the newly added Sawyer. Also added is one of my faves native Clevelander Andrew Carmellini! While most of the people listed actually attended the event Michael Symon and John Besh couldn't make it last year, and sent guys from their restaurants instead.

The thing that seems to be the big sticking point for out-of-towners is that it's held on a Tuesday rather than a Saturday. It actually seems to work out better because people don't seem to drink as much as they would on a weekend night, which typically leads to some pretty bad scenes.

Speaking of alcohol, the representation from local brewers is nothing to sneeze at either. While guys like Sierra Nevada were prominently featured to the front of the entrance, I found what I think is one of the best craft brewers on the east coast - Captain Lawrence. Armed with a few bottles of Golden Delicious, owner Scott Vaccarro got me hooked on his superbly crafted beers. Joe Bastianich and other vintners were offering up their wines as well.

Top to bottom, this event is first class. What better way to honor the legacy of such an amazing little girl than to put together an impressive event like this? If this is the sort of thing you can get away for (and can afford at $300 a person), you have to go at least once. We combine a trip to NYC the Saturday and Sunday before and attend the epic Big Apple BBQ Block Party in Madison Square.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Pit.......Where do I start?

Barbecue and pizza are two subjects that are near and dear to my heart. I eat a lot of both. When I travel out the east coast pretty much all I eat is pizza. I take that back, in Boston there are two excellent barbecue joints Redbones, and Soul Fire; in New York Fette Sau is a must visit in the summer. All are very memorable. When I'm down south it's barbecue all the way. I've got the posts started, I simply haven't had time to finish them. Actually, I probably have 75-100 posts started that I haven't finished. Maybe I should do that. Boston, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Hawai'i, New Haven, CT.....

I'm getting off track.

With local barbecue so sorely lacking in this town, it was my duty to find out if The Pit was anywhere near as bad as everything I'd heard. The general consensus is that this poor restaurant might be the Gigli of all barbecue.

First, it's found in one of the most underground locations one could possibly choose. I'm not talking about "The Campbell Apartment in Grand Central Station" or "Freeman's at the end of an alley in the East Village", hard to find. I'm talking the "What kind of moron would build a restaurant around the corner from a dead end, that 99.7% of Cleveland never even knew existed" hard to find. The Cheesecake Factory would fail in this location.

The reviews complained about nearly every aspect of their dining experience.

"Is there a space for zero stars?"

Three rib dinners were,PORK JERKY ON A Bone"

"Ribs were absolutely the worst I have ever experienced anywhere in the entire country. tasted like they were cooked in used motor oil."

or this little exchange with the manager

"He then said he wasn't going to honor the coupon we got offline because he changed his mind on wanting to offer that coupon."


I'm not going to give the blow by blow in writing (okay, maybe a little bit of writing). I think the pictures speak for themselves. One thing I will note, is that this is how the food came out of the kitchen. No sauce was added by me or my barbecue comrade. I will also say that the complimentary cornbread that was given to us at the start was actually exceptional, and I'm being totally serious. Highlight of the meal. Real corn with jalapenos and honey.

Why so much sauce? Probably because it's the only thing containing any moisture.

Dude, where's my chicken and ribs? And which is which? Diabetics beware!

Barely edible.......when they made it two days ago.

Guess the sandwich! Sloppy Joe?

Wrong! *snickering* BRISKET!!!

At the end of the day, the chicken and ribs with two sides were something like $20, the brisket and pulled pork were $8-10 each. Total bill with two Cokes and a tip came to an eye watering $56. For a good laugh read this Metromix review and tell me if it doesn't sound like a paid advertisement. If I had one suggestion, it would be that the owner, the chef, and the Metromix guy visit this The Pit to learn what real barbecue tastes like.

The Pit

25800 Central. pkwy
Beachwood, OH 44122
(216) 292-7427

The Pit on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Lenten Season is Upon Us!!!

What do you think about when you think of Ash Wednesday? Me? Well.......I think about sitting on a Parisian folding chair in Madison Square Park eating a nice juicy hamburger, with crispy fries, and a vanilla milk shake from Shake Shack.

Sorry if I let you down.

Danny Meyer is the shit!

All afternoon I eagerly anticipated a dinner that included the epically fantastic Shrimp Po' Boy from Battiste & DuPree, only to find out the place was closed today. Not cool. I will, however, be going to get that sandwich come Friday because it's THAT good.