Friday, March 29, 2019

Mom's Pierogies

When I think of what foods Cleveland is known for, certainly Pierogi is right at the top of the list. So when Mr. H's long-time hairdresser decided to take her home-based pierogi business to a brick-and-mortar spot (and not far from our neighborhood), we were excited to patronize it.
She offers takeout and catering for around 20 different types of pierogi daily, with frozen options and hot meal specials.
Including a Fish Fry on Fridays during Lent!
For $10, it includes two beer-battered pieces of cod, two Potato Cheddar pierogi, and coleslaw. Comes with tartar sauce and sour cream. For the sour cream, you can choose from plain or their housemade Garlic. If you're a garlic-lover, this version is a must-try!

We took the meals home (with a side of applesauce as well), and the fish was still super crispy and everything hot by the time we ate.

We also snagged some Breakfast and Potato Cheddar Jalapeno pierogi for the freezer. Check them out on Memphis Avenue for hot meal takeout, catering, and your Cleveland pierogi fix.

Mom's Pierogies
8467 Memphis Avenue
Brooklyn, OH 44144
(216) 309-1570

Monday, March 25, 2019

Il Rione

I finally headed to Il Rione Pizzeria in Cleveland's "West Side Little Italy" for the New York-style pizza that everyone has been raving about since it opened in 2017.
I wasn't only excited to finally try this pizza, but also to kick off the first stop of my 2019 To Dine Challenge!
(photo credit Eat Drink Cleveland)

This cozy Gordon Square neighborhood spot is right across the street from Stone Mad, and has a funky, cool vibe to it with exposed brick and industrial elements with warm tones and an open kitchen concept. On weekend nights in particular, be prepared to wait, as it has a decent amount of seating, but not enough to accommodate its popularity.
We were fortunate enough to arrive ahead of the dinner crowd and snag a table right next to the kitchen, for views of the pizzas being made.
We started off the meal with salads, and I got the House Salad ($7) with romaine, balsamic vinaigrette, goat cheese, roasted sunflower seeds, and fried capers. Those fried capers!
Then we split two small pizzas between the three of us, and only one slice was left standing. You can build your own, or select from the Suggested Pies.

We leaned towards the suggested combinations, and ordered a Roseanna Pie ($17)- white pie, red onion, prosciutto, and arugula.
And a Diavolo Pie ($17)- red sauce, mozzarella, calabrian chiles, spicy salami, and red onions. But we added the Hot Honey from the Speck Pie to it, and it was the perfect sweet and spicy addition!
I am completely addicted to chile-infused honey on pizza after our January trip to NYC when I tasted it for the first time. A bottle came home with us. I would totally eat the Roseanna again, but that Diavolo left my mouth watering and I'm craving it again soon.

For me, the center of this style of pizza is often so thin that it gets too wet for my personal taste, but man once you get a few bites in then it's golden!

This spot is family-friendly, but also has some great adult beverage options. I was turned on to a new grape varietal that I hadn't tried before thanks to our server, and enjoyed two glasses of wine with our meal. Our men were not invited to this girls' dinner, but we snagged some pizzas to-go and scored wifey points at home. It was almost as good as takeout!

Il Rione
1303 W 65th Street
Cleveland, OH 44102
(216) 282-1451

Monday, March 18, 2019

Moxie the Restaurant

I was recently invited to a social influencer dinner at Moxie, the Restaurant. It was actually my first time at the famous east side restaurant and sister spot to Red, the Steakhouse. They had planned quite the spread, showcasing a lot of different dishes on their menu.
Everything was served family-style for this event, and we kicked off with Calamari with shishito, fresno, scallion, cilantro, sweet chili aioli, and brulee lemon.
And Charred Shishito Peppers with a ginger lime vinaigrette and parmigiana pink salt.
Next course included a Fattoush salad with romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, onions, radishes, feta, crispy pita, and lemon pepper vinaigrette.
Second course also gave us the Tuna Tartare with chile vinaigrette, wasabi guacamole, and tagorashi scallion wonton.
Now we got into the main course, and sampled the Curry Gulf Shrimp with flash-fried shrimp, forbidden rice, bok choy, and chili curry broth.
The Shaksuka with tomato, fennel, cumin, spinach, chickpea, eggplant, roasted egg, and feta served with naan.
That thick house-made naan was the perfect vehicle for the dish.
The Veal Osso Bucco served with goat cheese polenta, fingerlings, roasted parsnips and carrots, and demi.
And the last savory dish of the night, New Zealand Lamb Rack with whipped sweet potato, red onion, cranberry, pecan, and brussel sprout leaves.
We topped off the meal with some assorted pastries and the Warm Apple Fritter with vanilla ice cream and cinnamon caramel sauce.
Completely stuffed and rolling out of the restaurant, it was a delightful meal that left me desiring to come back. Highlights for me were the Curry Gulf Shrimp, Naan, and (surprisingly, as I'm not a dessert gal)...the Warm Apple Fritter.

Moxie, the Restaurant
3355 Richmond Road
Beachwood, OH 44122
(216) 831-5599

Disclosure: I was invited, with a guest, to a complimentary dinner event. All food and wine was provided in exchange for sharing our experience. All opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Cru Uncorked

Mr. H and I celebrated my birthday a few weeks late, and he surprised me with dinner at Cru Uncorked in Moreland Hills.
Fine-dining French in a château-like setting, it's quite unlike any other Cleveland area restaurant I've seen. Starting with a very grand entrance.
With several separate, cozy dining rooms and fireplaces galore, it was warm and inviting on a chilly winter night.
While the interior was elegant and high-end, I'd also like to go back in the warmer months and take advantage of the outdoor terrace seating.
As we settled in and placed our order, an amuse-bouche arrived at the table. Which is always a pleasant surprise and a nice way to kick off any fine-dining experience.
We decided to share a dish they are becoming known for, the Seared Foie Gras Preparation (MP) with seasonal accoutrements. That night's included a pear and luxardo cherry sauce. Rich, decadent and it spread nicely on the two types of bread served.
We also shared the Escargot Cocotte ($16) of braised snails, forest mushrooms, tarragon, pearl onion, bacon, and garlic. This combination of flavors was unlike other escargot I've had in the past, and we really enjoyed it.
I ordered the Halibut ($48) with sauce verjus, golden raisins, capers, marcona almonds, and pommes puree.
Mr. H got the Potato Scaled Snapper ($45) with citrus rosemary crème and melted leek fondue.
Beautifully plated and both really nice fish dishes, we were really happy. But as you can see, the price tag is steep. The same quality fish and presentation can run you at least $10 less in other great Cleveland restaurants.

The portions are not huge (but were appropriate), and the dining experience is not rushed, so we had room for dessert! Mr. H did not care for the pudding-like texture of his Apple Verrine ($14) with white chocolate caramel crème, apple confit, almond crumble, warm caramel sauce, and green apple sorbet. However, the tableside presentation was fun to watch. I had the Chocolate Stone ($12) with dark chocolate mousse, caramel chocolate cremeux center, and crème fraiche ice cream. Which really did look kind of like a river rock!
Service was some of the best I've had in Cleveland, and we enjoyed our craft cocktails as well. I'm sure that the wine list would prove to be full of fabulous options.

It's just across the street from Flour, and they offer complimentary valet parking.

For the price-point and setting, this should be reserved for a special occasion. It was certainly a special meal, and felt quite birthday treat-worthy.

Cru Uncorked
34300 Chagrin Blvd.
Moreland Hills, OH 44022
(440) 903-1171

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Ninja City Kitchen

Moved from its east side location in University Circle, Ninja City Kitchen and Bar has revamped the former Old City Soda space in the Gordon Square Arts District.
On Detroit Avenue, on the same block as Sweet Moses and across the "hall" from FOUNT, the space inside doesn't feel very different than its former tenant. Wide open, long bar, lots of natural light from the large windows...but now with a modern Asian cartoon flare.
My friend had asked to go here, as she was craving their Steam Buns ($14.95 for 4) after a recent visit. You have your choice of BBQ Pulled Pork, Chicken, Tofu, Steak, or Shrimp. A $1 upcharge applies for splitting proteins. We had two Steak and two Chicken, and they were quite enjoyable.
We all quickly agreed to also share two orders of the Spring Rolls ($4.25) with pork and veggies and a sweet garlic vinaigrette.
Several other of the "Small Bites" options were calling my name, so I decided to order the Pork Rangoons (pictured below) and Chicken Wings (Honey Wasabi sauce). They offer a Build Your Own Bento Box option where you can mix and match the small bites to build a meal (3 for $11.95 or 4 for $14.95). We liked all of the small bites that we tried. None blew my socks off, but all were solid and I'd have no trouble ordering again.
My two friends both ordered Ramen Noodle Soup, but I went for the Banh Mi Sandwich ($12.95). You can select from the Classic (braised pork belly, ham, and pate), Chicken, Tofu, Steak, or Shrimp. I went right for the Classic. Again, solid and enjoyable, but I've had better banh mi sandwiches in AsiaTown. It comes with a side of Togarashi Fries or Tots. I had the fries, and they were nice and crispy fresh-cut fries with an interesting and heavy-handed seasoning blend.
Lastly, we all indulged in some adult beverages. I had their version of a tiki cocktail, and it was quite tasty.

It was quiet on a Monday evening, but service was attentive, the food arrived pretty quickly once we decided to order, and I enjoyed our meal. This could definitely be a family-friendly spot, and there is easy street parking or the public parking lot one block away. Make sure you stop in to Brewnuts just down the block and across the street for dessert!

Ninja City Kitchen and Bar
6706 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44102
(216) 862-7200