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A Smattering of Restaurants with a Focus on Food and Drink

By Staff · October 9th, 2013 · Food & Drink Issue
food+drink_listings_amerasia_jfAmerasia - Photo: Jesse Fox
Abigail Street  The Mediterranean-inspired menu of small plates revels in Italian, Spanish, Turkish and Greek influences, with unique twists only Chef Wright could pull off — chorizo-stuffed dates, grilled octopus, batata and more. Wines are available on tap, by the bottle or the glass. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $10-$30. 1214 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-4040, abigailstreet.com.

Amerasia — Quaint and comfortable with a huge beer list, Amerasia might be Covington’s best-kept secret. Offering all the usual Chinese dishes and a list of chef specialties, Amerasia’s food is anything but the usual. Chef Chu makes it all from scratch. His motto: “Do not take short cuts and do everything with passion and love.” Enjoy it all while taking in the eclectic décor of Kung Fu movie posters and paper lanterns. Open Monday-Saturday. $7.50-$16. 521 Madison Ave., Covington, Ky., 859-261-6121.

Anchor OTR — Located in a historic building at the corner of Washington Park, Anchor OTR offers impressive, quality seafood. The raw bar selections are tempting and they also offer interesting starters: Salt Shrimp — three extra-large shrimp with their shells on, fried and dusted with crunchy salt; cockles with white beans and garlic sauce; and soft-shelled crab with aioli. The salads change seasonally. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $8-$30. 1401 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-8111, facebook.com/theanchorotr.

Arnold’s Bar and Grill — Boasting its history as the oldest continuously running tavern in town, Arnold’s is a true Cincinnati classic serving up a nice range of lunch and dinner options at bargain prices. Named as one of the best bars in America by Esquire magazine. Open Monday-Saturday. $4-$17. 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown, 513-421-6234, arnoldsbarandgrill.com.

Arthur’s — Serving only local beers on draft, Arthur’s is a relaxed gathering place on Hyde Park Square. The menu includes salads, soups, sandwiches and, their specialty, burgers with deals on special “burger madness” days. Includes a late-night menu. Open daily. $8.25-$11.50. 3516 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-871-5543, arthurscincinnati.com.

A Tavola — Armed with a pizza oven from Naples, Italy, A Tavola strikes a resounding chord of authenticity while redefining the perfect pie. Their playful selection of signature pizzas — such as the Fig + Prosciutto, Artichoke or Sausage + Sage — are a blend of the familiar coupled with the exotic. Whet your appetite with their stuffed dates, filled with house sausage, wrapped in smoky bacon and topped with tomato sauce. Menu boasts a large selection of craft cocktails. Open Monday-Saturday. $5-$16. 1220 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-246-0192, atavolapizza.com.

Bakersfield OTR — Part bar, part taco joint, all classy. Bakersfield specializes in gourmet tacos (pollo verde, pastor, huitlacoche, etc.), quality tequilas and whiskeys and hand-crafted margaritas made the old fashioned way — not from a pre-made mix. Open daily. $3-$8. 1213 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-579-0446, bakersfieldotr.com.

Barrio Tequileria — The starter selections (called “antojitos” at Barrio: “little cravings”) include great guacamole and elote mexicano — grilled corn dusted with chile. Choose from burritos and tacos in various incarnations. Fillings range from carne asada, marinated grilled skirt steak, to de hongos, Barrio’s vegetarian burrito. The bar offers more than 70 tequilas. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $2.75-$8. 3937 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, 513-541-6400, facebook.com/barriotequileria.

Boca — A trip to Chef David Falk’s Italian/French gemstone is an experience to be savored as much as the food itself. Take your time, invest a few hours and allow him and his attentive, knowledgeable staff to unfold an epic tale of two or three courses, plus dessert. The motto of the wine list is “Life’s too short to drink bad wine.” Open Monday-Saturday. $15-$37. 114 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-542-2022, bocacincinnati.com. 

Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar — Working closely with local sources, Bouquet’s farm-to-table approach means a fresh, frequently rotating menu packed with seasonal ingredients. Elegant small plates, entrées and thoughtful wine pairings set the stage for an intimate dining experience. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $5-$30. 519 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-491-7777, bouquetrestaurant.com.

BrewRiver GastroPub — Chef Michael Shields, who earned his chops under Emeril Lagasse, opened BrewRiver GastroPub with local craft beer and thoughtfully paired cuisine in mind. You will find no Budweiser or Guinness here, only a rotating list of more than 50 hand-picked, locally brewed drafts, bottled and canned beers. The curried beef short rib poutine is a must-have. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $8-$32. 2062 Riverside Drive, East End, 513-861-2484, brewrivergastropub.com.

The Celestial — Whet your appetite on Oysters Rockefeller, crispy brie with marinated figs or delectable crab cakes with caper remoulade. Whether you choose the Celestial Oscar, crowned with king crab, or the pan seared sea scallops with baby shrimp risotto, you will not be disappointed. Desserts include a classic crème brulee and a raspberry peach bread pudding with Michele Chiarlo Moscato d’Asti. Open daily. $21-$46. 1071 Celestial St., Mount Adams, 513-241-4455, thecelestial.com.

Chez Nora — Rooftop Jazz club and terrace bar offering daily specials and a menu with Cajun influences including Cajun Fried Oysters with remoulade, chicken and sausage jambalaya and crab cakes. Open daily. $7-$29. 530 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-491-8027, cheznora.com.

City View Tavern — Home of the best bloody mary in town (some would argue anywhere), and the burgers are damn tasty, too. Meet Big Ted: six ounces of griddle-cooked, handmade beef patty with American cheese, brown mustard, lettuce, pickles, mayo, onion, ketchup and home-grown tomatoes (when in season). And City View has possibly the best view of downtown of any restaurant in the ’Nati. Open daily. $3-$7. 403 Oregon St., Mount Adams, 513-241-8439, cityviewtavern.com.

Cock & Bull Public House — Cock & Bull serves award-winning fish and chips and better-than-average pub grub, including excellent crab cakes and build-your-own burgers. The atmosphere is convivial, and the beer selection is astounding — 60 beers on tap. Open daily. $7-$17. Multiple locations including 2645 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-533-4253; 601 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-581-4253; 275 E. Sharon Road, Glendale, 513-771-4253, theenglishpub.com.

Dee Felice Café — If you’re looking for more of an experience than just dinner, swing into Dee Felice Café. Along with spicy New Orleans-style dishes, you’ll enjoy great live Jazz performed on a raised stage behind the bar Wednesday through Sunday. The star dish here is the crawfish etouffee, a generous pile of crawfish tails with vegetables and spicy sauce over rice. Happy hour prices all day Wednesday and Sunday. Open daily. $15-$37. 529 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-261-2365, deefelice.com.

Django Western Taco — The Al Pastor pork pairs with tequila-soaked, grilled pineapple and fragrant, chopped mint. Vegetarians can enjoy soy chorizo and cotija cheese. The Sheriff’s Stone Bowl features beans, rice, vegetables, beef and egg in a big stone bowl. Their delicious house margarita is infused with jalapeno. Open Monday-Saturday. $3-$18. 4046 Hamilton Ave., Northside, 513-542-3664, djangonorthside.com.

Dutch’s Larder — Dutch’s established itself as a wine and bottling shop in 1947 and has recently expanded into a deli/grocery. Not only do they have an enormous selection of wine and craft beer, they now have an upscale deli with an impressive selection of charcuterie, gourmet cheeses and pantry staples like quinoa and red rice. Open Tuesday-Sunday. Prices vary. 3366 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-871-1446, facebook.com/dutchslarder.

Enoteca Emilia — Italian small plates and wood-fired pizzas dominate this popular Italian wine bar headed up by Chef Adam Cobb. An impressive collection of cured meat, artisan cheese and pasta plates perfectly complement their wide selection of reds and whites. Open daily. $4-$30. 2038 Madison Road, O’Bryonville, 513-834-5773, enotecaemilia.com.

Incline Public House — With a 1,400-square-foot deck rife for soaking in vistas and cocktails, IPH’s name derives from the actual Cincinnati Incline that existed there from the late 1800s to the 1940s. Their upscale twist on pub food features sandwiches, pizza, epicurean appetizers and a slew of craft cocktails and draft beers; they have a monthly beer series called Meet the Brewer during which beer-ophiles can sample suds from local breweries such as Blank Slate and MadTree. Open daily. $7-$14. 2601 W. Eighth St., Price Hill, 513-251-3000, inclinepublichouse.com.

Jean-Robert’s Table — The casual, upscale menu of French-American cuisine includes perfect foie gras, local chicken with fingerling potatoes and the French Chateau Burger with blue cheese, caramelized onions, tomato and bacon on a fluffy brioche bun. A Duo of Snail & Frog Leg appetizer is also available, served with a crawfish beignet, kale and chardonnay garlic butter. Open Monday-Saturday. $10-$40. 713 Vine St., Downtown, 513-621-4777, jrtable.com.

Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse — Modeled after a 1940s New York Art Deco steakhouse. If you love steak you have about a zero percent chance of being let down with one of Ruby’s — they dry-age their own.

There are several non-steak options on the menu, including good seafood dishes, but the cow is king (queen?) at Ruby’s. Open Monday-Saturday. $7-$62. 700 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-784-1200, jeffruby.com.

Jimmy G’s — The ’50s retro nightclub vibe of the place is the first thing you’ll notice as you meander down the staircase to the red-hued, subterranean dining room. From there, it’s all about the food. Chef Jimmy Gibson ensures his steakhouse is like no other in Cincinnati, from his smoky, tender, wood-grilled octopus soaked in a sherry reduction to his arsenal of grilled, dry-aged steaks and classy martinis. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $8-$38. 435 Elm St., Downtown, 513-621-8555, jimmy-gs.com.

Kaze — The old Cincinnati Color building on Vine Street is such a landmark that it would have been dreadful had it been torn down, and Japanese gastropub Kaze saved it. With a distinct bar and dining room, favorites are the pork buns and the short rib sliders, with cucumber pickled kimchi-style and a rich Korean barbecue sauce. Open daily. $5-$25. 1400 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-898-7991, kazeotr.com. 

La Poste Eatery — The menu headings read like a deconstructed letter to mom — postage, body and salutation. The seasonal menu items and sommelier wine selections are delivered with a smile. Tasty mushroom ravioli, fried escargot and braised meats are part and parcel here. Open Monday-Saturday. $10-$28. 3410 Telford St., Clifton, 513-281-3663, laposteeatery.com.

Lavomatic Café — The first of the trendy eateries to hit the revitalized Gateway Quarter, Lavomatic still spins some of the most memorable New American lunch, brunch and dinner hits in town. Now with an updated menu and look, you can still wash away the hunger with this OTR pioneer. Open daily. $10-$30. 1211 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-621-1999, lavomaticcafe.com. 

Local 127 — The menu is frequently updated in tune with the best ingredients area farmers have to offer. Recent instant classics include the Porkopolis, slow-cooked baby back ribs, tenderloin and sausage served on a bed of white bean ragout and red wine reduction. Choose from an extensive wine list or let Chef Geddes treat you to his custom pairings. Open daily. $14-$36. 413 Vine St., Downtown, 513-721-1345, mylocal127.com.

Main Bite — Main Bite creates delicious, seasonal fare with crafty culinary cocktails to go with each bite. All of the sauces and dressings are made in-house. This isn’t a tapas-style restaurant, but the portion sizes are shaved down so one dish won’t stuff you. Their cocktails feature fruits and vegetables, muddled or pureed accordingly. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $7.95-$13.95. 522 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-261-2483, mainbiterestaurant.com. 

Maribelle’s eat + drink — With a homey feeling, diners can see — and actually eat — inside the kitchen. Some favorites from the old menu, such as the turkey and brie sandwich and Brussels sprouts with capers and toasted walnuts, make an appearance. Saturday and Sunday brunch specials include cornmeal pancakes and a sunny side egg sandwich with truffle aioli and Gruyère. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $8-$14. 3235 Madison Road, Oakley, 513-321-9111, maribellestavern.com.

Marty’s Hops & Vines — This College Hill wine and beer emporium offers weekly wine tastings with six healthy pours accompanied with cubed cheese and crackers. Half of the shop is retail, selling bottle craft beers and local and international wines, and the other half is a bar and restaurant. Their newly expanded menu consists of salads, baked subs and an individual build-your-own pizza. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $7-$10. 6110 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, 513-681-4222, martys-hopsandvines.com.

Mecklenburg Gardens — For a taste of Zinzinnati’s German heritage, Mecklenburg Gardens showcases some of the best German cuisine the city has to offer. Their specialty is Weiner Schnitzel, a tender veal cutlet topped with lemon; it’s served with German fried potatoes and cabbage. Other specialties include Bier Battered Pickles, Potato Pancakes and a choice of one to three sausages with bratwurst, mettwurst, hot mettwurst and goettawurst — all made locally. They have 16 beers on tap, most of which are German, along with some microbrews. Open Monday-Saturday. $8-$20. 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, 513-221-5353, mecklenburgs.net. 

Meritage — Meritage offers upscale classic American cuisine, ranging from steamed mussels to surf and turf and a Seafood Trifecta, with lobster tail, scallops and Thai-glazed salmon. Don’t miss the bone-in pork chop served with bourbon cream sauce. Meritage also boasts an extensive wine cellar and signature cocktails. Open daily. $17-$60. 1140 Congress Ave., Glendale, 513-376-8134, meritagecincy.com.

Moerlein Lager House — At the Lager House, beer is king. A major anchor of the riverfront retail and residential development known as The Banks, Moerlein Lager House celebrates Cincinnati’s brewing tradition and brings the Moerlein brand to life. Touting 15,000 square feet of space, two bars, three kitchens and sweeping views of downtown and the riverfront, the Lager House is a destination in itself. Offers a large something-for-everyone menu of burgers and pastas, and fancier dishes like filet mignon and squash Wellington. Open daily. $10-$28. 115 Joe Nuxhall Way, The Banks, Downtown. 513-421-2337, moerleinlagerhouse.com.

Molly Malone’s — Northern Kentucky’s own Irish Pub, Molly’s has a great mix of Irish and American fare for lunch, brunch and supper, and serves pizza and appetizers until the wee hours. With 28 draft beers, trivia, karaoke and live music seven nights a week, Molly’s will fill your dance card. Open daily. $7-$15. 112 E. Fourth St., Covington, Ky., 859-491-6659, covington.mollymalonesirishpub.com.

MOTR Pub — MOTR Pub does two things really well: rocks your face off with loud music and sweaty crowds, and serves up one hell of a burger. But fret not, veg-heads, you can get a veggie burger or veggie BLT. There’s also the spicy St. Francis Monastery Mac and Cheese. Try the Migas Tacos with egg, crispy potatoes, cheese and chorizo with a bloody mary during Sunday brunch. Open daily. $5-$9. 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-6687, motrpub.com.

Nada — Offering modern Mexican. Outstanding guacamole tops beer batter-fried hake on crisp, Baja-style tacos. The ceviche zings with notes of orange and chipotle. Churros, classic fried dough with cinnamon and sugar, are a sweet way to wrap it up. Great location next to the Aronoff Center downtown, and the patio is a big attraction when nice weather beckons. Open daily. $5-$22. 600 Walnut St., Downtown. 513-721-6232, eatdrinknada.com.

Nectar — Cincinnati native Chef Julie Francis finely crafts a small menu filled with locally sourced, organic ingredients. Nectar’s monthly Dinner Club promotes a theme ingredient and its farmed source on a five-course, fixed price menu. Sunday brunch is also available, featuring pastured eggs, local honey and fresh-baked breads. Open Wednesday-Sunday. $17-$26. 1000 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-929-0525, dineatnectar.com.

Nicholson’s — For some gastropub food with Scottish influence and a cocktail or two, Nicholson’s is a hot spot to hit. They’re known for their fish and chips, but their new menu offers duck fat fries and shepherd’s pie. If you’re not hungry, check out one of their 90 single malt scotches, craft cocktails or draft beer. Open daily. $9-$29. 625 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-564-9111, nicholsonspub.com.

Nicola’s Restaurant — A celeb-spotting treasure, Nicola’s renown is undeniable. One of Cincinnati’s top, Zagat-rated restaurants, its menu of house-made pastas, gnocchi and creamy risotto are among some of the thoughtfully conceived dishes transporting patrons to the heart of Italy. Indulge in wine-paired tasting menus or cap off your meal with a dessert of Grasshopper Icebox Cake with mint gelato. Open Monday-Saturday. $12-$42. 1420 Sycamore St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-6200, nicolasrestaurant.com.

Orchids at Palm Court — Nestled inside Carew Tower’s historic Art Deco Hilton hotel, Orchids hosts a breathtaking feast for the eyes, a perfect backdrop for seasonal menus of refined elegance. Chef Todd Kelly was the American Culinary Federation’s USA Chef of the Year in 2011, and his menu features creative cuisine paired with an award-winning wine list and delicious desserts by Pastry Chef Megan Ketover. The seared foie gras with Johnny cakes, rhubarb and port exemplify Chef Kelly’s enticing technique. Open daily. $27-$60 (for the Chef’s tasting prix fixe platters). 35 W. Fifth St., Hilton Netherland Plaza Hotel, Downtown, 513-421-9100, orchidsatpalmcourt.com.

Otto’s — The pinotage wine is glorious. Try the balsamic tofu for dinner with caramelized kale and honey curry cream sauce. For brunch, Benedict Otto’s substitutes fried crispy flatbread and smoked salmon for the English muffin and ham of a traditional eggs Benedict. It’s delicious, a bit rich and a true indulgence. Open daily. $21-$31. 521 Main St., Covington, Ky., 859-491-6678, ottosonmain.com. 

The Palace Restaurant — Seasonal menus of fine, upscale fare at a four diamond restaurant. For an affordable, luxurious meal with an international flair, try their Tasting Thursdays deal, offered every third Thursday. It features a prix fixe dinner for two and a bottle of wine for only $70. Open Tuesday-Saturday for dinner; daily for breakfast. $15-$44. 601 Vine St., The Cincinnatian Hotel, Downtown, 513-381-3000, palacecincinnati.com. 

Primavista — With a breathtaking city view, Primavista wins frequent reader’s choice and magazine awards such as “most romantic,” “best date spot” and “best dining with a view.” They offer fine Italian dishes from all regions, specializing in veal and fish, with sauces made in-house. The gnocchi sautéed in sage butter with pancetta melts in your mouth, and the bread pudding is the best. Also offers comprehensive vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menus. Open daily. $8-$40. 810 Matson Place, Price Hill, 513-251-6467, pvista.com.

Quarter Bistro — A romantic bistro offering seasonal cuisine and sophisticated ambiance. The 18-hour short ribs are to die for and the Q’s pizzas are nothing short of divine. There’s a lovely wine list at Quarter Bistro, and outdoor dining here in the historic Mariemont town square is wonderfully charming. Open daily. $10-$32. 6904 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, 513-271-5400, quarter-bistro.com. 

Red Roost Tavern — After a $23 million hotel-wide renovation, the Hyatt Regency introduces their new restaurant, the farm-to-table Red Roost Tavern, which joins top-notch hotel eateries downtown. Red Roost’s philosophy is: “Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served.” They emphasize harvesting produce within a 100-mile radius of the restaurant, including Indiana and Kentucky. Open daily. $12-$34. 151 W. Fifth St., Downtown, 513-579-1234, cincinnati.hyatt.com.

The Rookwood Bar and Grill — Rookwood tile and pottery is part of Cincinnati’s heritage, and the restaurant that inhabits the former pottery building is putting its stamp on Cincinnati as well. Great food and well-crafted cocktails are their specialty, served in the main dining room, the loft or inside one of the pottery’s old kilns. The menu has some unique Cincinnati dishes: Hanky Pankys on the appetizer list, french fries with Grippo’s seasoning and a crazy-good pork belly sandwich. The dessert menu features Jeni’s Ice Creams from Columbus; try the Beer Float. The young staff has a lot of creativity and skill. Open Tuesday-Sunday. $11-$27. 1077 Celestial St., Mount Adams, 513-421-5555, therookwood.com.

Senate — Chef Daniel Wright was Food & Wine’s 2012 People’s Choice for the Best New Chef in the Midwest. Senate’s mission is to present upscale street food, and they do a terrific job of it. The menu plays heavily on hot dogs, from gourmet Chicago dogs to more interesting dog-of-the-days and quirkily named dogs like Hello Kitty 2.0, a beef hotdog with wasabi mayo, ponzu-wasabi slaw, bacon, wasabi peas and sesame seeds. The Truffle Fries are a must-have, as are the cocktails. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $9-$18. 1212 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-421-2020, senatepub.com.

Sotto — Located under the new Boca restaurant space, the Tuscan-inspired Sotto offers a more approachable atmosphere and price point than its upstairs neighbor. With multiple dining rooms, the kitchen is open to view, including the custom-made wood-fire grill in front, and a fresh pasta room in the back hallway. Sotto sources their bread from Blue Oven and also grows their own herbs and vegetables. Open daily. $7-$27. 114 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-977-6886, sottocincinnati.com. 

The Summit — Class is in session! Yes, this restaurant is inside a school. Culinary and hospitality students at the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State are hand-picked to staff the kitchen and dining room in this teaching restaurant. Top-notch food at reasonable prices paired with an extensive wine list make this a restaurant for the city to be proud of. Open for dinner Thursday-Saturday. $19-$26. 3250 Central Parkway, Clifton, 513-569-4980, facebook.com/thesummit.mci.

Tap House Grill — A locally owned restaurant and bar featuring 28 beers on tap, focusing on local and regional breweries. They also offer a build-your-own burger menu. Open daily. $9-$20. 8740 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-891-TAPS, taphousecincy.com. 

Taste of Belgium — Hot, fresh Belgian waffles make delicious breakfast sandwiches, but there are also healthy fruit and yogurt parfaits. The crepe station prepares sweet and savory crepes, like the Nati Crepe with goetta, made fresh to order. At dinner, the sophistication goes up a notch with mussels, steak frites and Belgian specialties. Exclusive selection of Belgian beers. Open daily. $5-$25. 1133 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-381-4607, authenticwaffle.com. 

Teller’s of Hyde Park — Located in the historic Hyde Park Savings and Loan building, Teller’s offers unique ambiance, 30 beers on tap, a plethora of wine and a comprehensive menu with pastas, pizzas, salads, steak and more. They also offer a back patio and the option to eat inside of a bank vault. Open daily. $7-$36. 2710 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, 513-321-4721, tellersofhydepark.com.

Terry’s Turf Club — There’s no other character on the Cincinnati dining scene quite like Terry, and his little juke-joint is now a legend. The short but sweet menu centers on burgers — big, beautiful hamburgers including a tender-as-butter filet mignon burger with béarnaise. Other sandwiches start with grilled chicken or portobellos and shiitakes. Take the basics and add one of the formidable sauce options — including alcohol-infusd choices — for a customized burger. Open daily. $6.50-$26. 4618 Eastern Ave., East End, 513-533-4222.

Trio — Trio offers something-for-everyone American-style menu items with an upscale twist. Choose from many great salads, sandwiches, gourmet pizzas or seafood and pair your meal with a nice glass of wine from the extensive wine list. The Filet Oscar, the Trio Meatloaf and the Grouper Hemingway are customer favorites. Open daily. $11-$45. 7565 Kenwood Road, Kenwood, 513-984-1905, triobistro.com.

Via Vite — Via Vite showcases c’s casual take on Northern Italian cuisine. Crispy, wood-fired pizzas and hearty pastas hearken to the motherland, while entrées of braised lamb shank and bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin smothered in grandma’s peperonata lead the diner on a classic Italian journey. Open daily. $10-$33. 520 Vine St., Downtown, 513-721-8483, viaviterestaurant.com.

Virgil’s Café — Freshly baked bread and scratch-made, pressure-smoked andouille sausage are highlighted in several dishes and sides. New Orleans-inspired fare is well within Virgil’s wheelhouse, and the andouille po’ boy, chicken etouffee and shrimp Creole with creamy cheddar cheese grits prove it. Open Wednesday-Monday. $10-$25. 710 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue, Ky., 859-491-3287, virgilscafe.com.

Vito’s Café — For a magical evening, Vito’s combines original and familiar Italian dishes with great music performed by a pianist and the singing servers. We promise it’s not corny; they skillfully perform classic melodies, show tunes and even opera arias. The sauces and flavors of each dish are rich, complex and satisfying, and the food is truly well prepared — from veal scaloppini with shiitake mushrooms to seafood pomodoro with shrimp, clam and calamari to eggplant parmigiana. Open Wednesday-Sunday. $8-$30. 654 Highland Ave., Fort Thomas, Ky., 859-442-9444, vitoscafe.com.

Vitor’s Bistro — Located in a quaint 1864 European-looking building complete with an outside terrace. The space is divided into cozy smaller rooms and achieves what chef and co-owner Vitor Abreu calls their goal: a laid-back atmosphere with good food. Abreu, who is of Portuguese descent, tries to offer a mix of things on the menu with an honorable goal of giving the West Side something it’s been missing — a fine dining establishment. Open Wednesday-Sunday. $8-$45. 3232 Harrison Ave., Westwood, 513-481-5333, vitorsbistro.net.

Wurst Bar in the Square — A hip yet casual watering hole offering a well-rounded menu of inventive starters and soups, gourmet sausages, hamburgers and decadent desserts. The restaurant has 15 tricked-out sausages showcasing local meats from Wassler’s Meat Market, along with vegetarian dogs from Avril-Bleh. And a carefully selected lineup of craft beer and mixed drinks are available. Open daily. $5-$9. 3204 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-321-0615, facebook.com/wurstbarinthesq.

Yard House — A restaurant chain purchased last year by Darden Restaurants, the publicly traded corporation that brought us Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Seasons 52, this is their 44th location. It enjoys a vast beer selection — 160 beers on tap — sweeping river views, a thick bible of a menu and an expensive sound system piping out mostly Classic Rock. Open daily. $9-$35. 95 E. Freedom Way, The Banks, Downtown, 513-381-4071, yardhouse.com.

Zula — Serving up creative flatbreads and Mediterranean plates in an uncharacteristically spacious Over-the-Rhine location, Chef Tsvika Silberberg’s Zula aims to bring an assortment of dishes inspired by his hometown in Israel — and other places around the Mediterranean Sea — to Cincinnati. Each dish is delivered one at a time, tapas-style, giving people at the table a chance to try more than just their own courses. Open Tuesday-Saturday. $7.75-$16. 1400 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-744-9852, zulabistro.com.

 
 
 
 

 

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