Not too long ago, "R" and I found ourselves in Shaker Square one evening. It is not an area that we frequent (being West-siders), but with its growing list of notable restaurants I was looking forward to exploring. After attending a cocktail party catered by fire, food and drink restaurant (owned by chef Doug Katz), we wandered over to Grotto Wine Bar. Grotto is owned and operated by the Salerno Group, which includes one of my favorite chefs in Cleveland- Fabio Salerno. He also owns Lago (my favorite of the three) in Tremont, and Gusto! in Little Italy (my least favorite).
This was our first time at Grotto, so I was looking forward to trying it since we've been to his other two restaurants. We settled in at a small table next to a roaring fire (perfect on the snowy evening we were experiencing!), and browsed the menu. We love to sample multiple small dishes, so we immediately settled on two appetizers and a personal pizza.
We started with the Arancini ($10)- shrimp stuffed risotto ball with saffron cream. The risotto was a little gummy, but the overall flavor was nice and subtle. The taste of shrimp was certainly not lost in this dish. Then we moved on to the Bruschetta ($10)- scallops on a mushroom duxelle canapé with leeks and truffle oil. This was our favorite of the evening. It was inventive and unique, and executed perfectly. Lastly, we shared the Dominic pizza ($12)- ground meatballs, banana peppers, pickled jalapenos and fennel. We had a hard time selecting a pizza, as several of them sounded delicious, but I was happy with our decision. The addition of the banana peppers and pickled jalapenos on pizza was a treat!
While Lago will remain my favorite, umm can you say Gnocchi with lobster, truffle, sweet corn, basil, and roasted tomatoes?!, Grotto was cozy and fun and we'll be back.
P.S. Ladies- they have hooks under the bar for us to hang our purses on! Hallelujah!
Grotto Wine Bar
13101 Shaker Square
Cleveland, OH 44120