Thursday, December 29, 2016


I'm always excited to find a new restaurant close to work, and thanks to fellow foodie blogger Crystal, I did the other day. She invited me to lunch at Scratch on Brecksville Road in Independence.
This newly-opened breakfast and lunch spot is trying to put a spin on familiar foods, with almost everything made from scratch (hence the name).

It's quite cute inside, like this sign on the back wall.
They have some low seating and a few high tops. The three of us waited for a low table to clear, and then settled in for a long leisurely lunch.

I went for the Ultimate BLT with smoked pork belly (really just thick cut bacon), lettuce, tomato, and a pepper aioli on toasted multi grain bread ($6.95). Dining Deals Alert!
The aioli and bread are really what made this sandwich stand out. I would happily order this again. But, the fries were a real disappointment. Over-fried and dried out, both of us that had them left most of them on the plate.

We sat and chatted for quite some time after the meal, and the staff went above and beyond to be accommodating (even offering complimentary coffee).

They are still getting their groove on menu items, but I think it has real potential. I'll be scheduling some working breakfast or lunch meetings here in the future.

6595 Brecksville Rd. #1
Independence, OH 44131

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Citizen Pie

I've been trying to tick a few more restaurants off of the 2016 To Dine Challenge list before Christmas, so that led Mr. H and I to Citizen Pie for Sunday lunch.
Located on Waterloo on the east side of Cleveland (across the street from Beachland Ballroom), this little shop provides you with a handful of seating options but a front-row view of your pizza being made. The Neapolitan-style pizza only takes 90 seconds to cook in the woodfire oven.
We placed our order at the counter, and then took a seat at the only low table. There is high-top seating at the window, and a small bar surrounding half of the counter, but that's it.
I ordered the Mushroom pizza with mozzarella, brie, mushrooms, bacon, red onion and truffle oil ($16).
Mr. H got the Sunday Special pizza, which was like Eggs Benedict on dough. Here it is pre-egg cracking...
...and post-egg cracking. Look at all that gooey yolk!
He was kind enough to share one slice with me.
The crust is unmatched in Cleveland, from what I've had. They have a good variety of topping combinations, and the new "4-way" which allows you to split the pizza into four types.

My only complaint was that the Mushroom pizza was a little watery in the center. Could be the combination of water releasing from the mushrooms and the truffle oil, but it left the dough a touch soggy in the middle.

Flavor-wise though, both pizzas were killer. I'd happily drive back over to the east side for this, but luckily I won't always have to. They are slated to open a second location in Ohio City in 2017.

Citizen Pie
15710 Waterloo Rd.
North Collinwood, OH 44110

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas to all that celebrate this holiday. For us, it is a time to slow down, be with family, appreciate what the year brought us, select thoughtful gifts for those that matter to us, and to enjoy delicious food and drink (usually in excess).
Our family's tradition is to each make an appetizer today, and to snack on them throughout the day. This year, I'm making an adapted version of this Butternut Squash and Apple Bruschetta. Should be a hit.

Happy Holidays to all.

Friday, December 23, 2016

2017 New Year's Eve Events

Clevelanders have plenty of ways to ring in the new year this year, and here are a few of the choices I've found to help you finalize those plans...

New Year's Eve at Graffiti: Tickets required. Two seatings available (5:00PM and 9:00PM). $30 + tax and gratuity. Endless buffet, complimentary glass of champagne, and drink specials. DJ and dancing included at second seating.

New Year's Eve at Gigi's on Fairmount: Two seatings available (6:30PM and 9:30PM), $85. Welcome cocktail, 5-course dinner, and complimentary champagne toast. Call 216-291-7237 for reservations.

New Year's Eve at Salt: Tickets required. Open bar, food stations, DJ, black tie attire, toast at midnight. $100.

New Year's Eve Dinner at The Black Pig: 7 courses. Reservations available between 5:30PM - 9:30PM. Regular menu not available. Prix fixe $90. Optional wine pairings available for $35.

Countdown to 2017 at Spice Kitchen & Bar: Celebrate the New Year with farm-fresh flavors. Spice’s 4-course prix fixe pairs ingredients with winter elegances. Dinner is $70 per person; wine pairings are an additional $30. Call 216.961.9637 or visit Open Table.

Lago's 4th Annual New Year's Eve Soiree- Fire and Ice: Located in the Aloft Cleveland Hotel.
Unveil the New Year with a night of lavish dancing and entertainment! Dinner will be accompanied by a live band and DJ Flaco Flash later in the evening. Cocktails will pour endlessly from the premium bars with a variety of decadent food served throughout the night. 7:00PM for dinner, 10:00 for late night guests ($150 ticket). $200 per person, $350 per couple, or $560 includes a hotel room at Aloft.

Kids New Year's Eve at Merwin's Wharf: Two seatings (8:30AM and 11:30AM) that include two hours of menu specials and family-friendly activities. Call 216-664-5696 for more details.

80's New Year's Eve Party at Punch Bowl Social: 6PM - 2AM. 80's themed music and entertainment, the Ohio State vs. Clemson game on TV.

If you have others to share, leave them in the comments. Have fun, stay safe, and ring in 2017 in style!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Polpetta at Porco

What do you get when you combine delicious and potent tiki drinks from Porco and the creative  chefs behind Cork & Cleaver and Graffiti? Polpetta! A build-your-own meatball restaurant concept, that just launched last week at Porco Lounge and Tiki Bar on West 25th Street.
The menu is small right now, but they have BIG plans for the future of this concept. Right now, diners choose from four meatballs (Classic Beef, Chicken, Pork & Veal, or Vegetarian), four sauces, and six sides (extra $).

While we waited for our balls (sooooo many ball jokes flying around), Chef Adam Bostwick sent out an order of their Pepperoni Bread. This was all that was left by the time I took a picture...
...the dough was firm enough on the outside to hold the contents in well but very soft and chewy inside, the ricotta cheese was a nice surprise, and the classic marinara sauce really stood out. I am NEVER one to order a dish with marinara out at a restaurant. Too many are quite bland and boring. Not this one. I immediately wanted more.

Then, our balls were ready. I had the Pork & Veal with the Parmesan Cream sauce. A slice of housemade focaccia is served with each plate.
Mr. H ordered the Vegetarian balls with Mushroom Gravy.
Both types of balls had nice texture and flavor, and we enjoyed both sauces as well. The funny thing is, the marinara sauce turned out to be my favorite. Maybe because I like to be surprised, and I wasn't expecting to like it so much.

Either way, go head to Porco for the same deadly drinks, but now a side of meatballs (or a few other menu options). Don't miss the Pepperoni Bread. I'm looking forward to watching what these guys have up their sleeves for this concept. Get ready. Cleveland!

Gosh, that was a lot of typing of the word balls. 

Polpetta at Porco
2527 West 25th Street
Cleveland, OH

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Old Brooklyn Cheese Co.

An dangerous exciting new business just opened in our neighborhood on Saturday. The Old Brooklyn Cheese Co. on Pearl Road, just south of the zoo.
The line was out the door for most of the day, which was awesome to see.
We didn't mind the wait, because we got to browse the shelves, sample 7 cheeses, and sip on some complimentary local eggnog.
I was pleasantly surprised by how many cheese selections were being carried. They certainly want to support Ohio cheese makers, but they also carry plenty of imported cheeses as well. Hard, soft, pungent, mild, goat, cow, buffalo...something for everyone.
We snagged three cheeses, a fresh baguette, and three fun new products to try.

The turnout was great to see. I certainly hope it keeps up for them. This is one of the better cheese selections that I've seen around town. In about two months, they'll have their own line of cheese available too.

Good thing this shop is within bike riding distance! I'll need to burn some extra calories, having them in Old Brooklyn.

Old Brooklyn Cheese Co.
4138 Pearl Road
Cleveland, OH 44109

Monday, December 19, 2016

2017 To Dine Challenge Request

December 19th? How is that even possible?!

2016 was a weird year in many ways (ummm, Trump, really?), but it brought some amazing things into my life. Mr. H and I traveled to Costa Rica and Maine, two more gorgeous kiddos were born that I get to be an "auntie" to, spending time with family and friends was a priority, I had a kick a$$ year at work, and we moved into our "forever" home. So...completing the 2016 To Dine Challenge just didn't always make it onto my radar. I have 4 restaurants left out of 10. Yikes!

That also means that it slipped my mind to start asking YOU for 2017 restaurant nominations on December 1st, as I usually do. Whoops. 

What restaurant do you want to see me visit in 2017?

A local neighborhood hangout? A new restaurant that opened, or is about to open, that you're curious about? Your favorite ethnic cuisine's hole-in-the-wall spot? Tell me about them, and they may just make the list for next year.

I'm already planning on doing something a little different for the 2017 To Dine Challenge, and I think you'll be pleased.

But, send in those restaurant nominations by leaving a comment below, posting on my Facebook page, or tweeting at me at @BiteBuff.

I'll post the 2017 list on January 1st!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Caribe Bake Shop

We had a special house guest for the week after Thanksgiving, my brother! He only gets here about once a year, and as a former professional cook and lover of all things food-related, we enjoy showing off the Cleveland culinary scene when he's in town. He's always up for anything, and last week that meant going on a lunch excursion with me to check a restaurant off of my 2016 To Dine Challenge list.

We were all quite sick of leftover turkey at that point, so E$, Mr. H and I all headed over to Caribe Bake Shop (no website) on Fulton.
In their brand new building, they can serve a lot more diners quickly, and they've expanded their seating. The old building was easy to miss when driving by, and it no longer fit the capacity they need. You head in the main front door, and swing through another set of doors on the left (right side is seat-yourself dining). You're then greeted with a cafeteria-style line (another for just sandwiches and the baked goods).
The food immediately starts to tempt you.
Now, they don't have a menu, and there's no signage on the line, so it can be a bit overwhelming for a new diner. To me, it seemed like everyone else knew exactly what to do and what they wanted. Clearly, they have their regulars.
Mr. H and I built a $10 lunch plate (Dining Deals Alert!), with your choice of three rices, two types of beans, and a meat. For our meat, we chose a skewered pork that had a mild-flavored sauce on it. It was a touch overcooked, but had nice flavor to it. E$ had the roasted and pulled pork. We also added fried plantains ($2) to our plate.
We also ordered a Cubano sandwich, which comes in three sizes. Pictured below was half of a Medium, and it was substantial! I only ate about a third of it, and took the rest home for lunch the next day. I would have liked it grilled/pressed, but otherwise it was a tasty version.
Other than feeling a bit overwhelmed determining what to get, and rushed (since it's a line that keeps on moving with hungry people behind you!), I really enjoyed it. Casual, cheap, huge portions, and it smelled and tasted pretty darn authentic.

Caribe Bake Shop
2906 Fulton Road
Cleveland, OH 44113