Trattoria Roma, which for years was directly across Walnut from the Aronoff Center, recently moved around the corner to join the new Cincinnati Restaurant Row on Sixth Street. Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of the old Trattoria Roma, but my opinion has changed after a couple of visits to the new location.
Here’s a good problem to have: There are so many fabulous little places out there to find Cheap Eats in Cincinnati that narrowing down the choices for the Dining Guide just about drove me crazy. I had a few arbitrary rules. No chains were allowed, not even local chains. Sorry Skyline!
I had been asked to represent CityBeat as a judge at the annual Best of Taste of Cincinnati competition. For over a decade I worked for a restaurant that always participated in Taste and I suffered through every Memorial Day weekend foodfest in the heat and rain. One year we were lucky enough to win the “Best Damned Dish,” and, trust me, that can mean big bucks for the winner. So it was with confidence and experience that I drove through the rain up to Sysco in Evendale one early Monday morning.
Aunt Flora of Aunt Flora’s House of Soul (7207 Montgomery Road, Silverton, 513-791-7437) is not only a CityBeat favorite but a bona fide celebrity. She (and her famous cobblers) have appeared on The Martha Stewart Show, and recently she was a contestant on Oprah Winfrey’s Search for America’s Next TV Star.
In the next few months, CityBeat’s dining crew is going to periodically revisit some classic Cincinnati restaurants. What defines a classic? Well, if longevity is a factor, Hyde Park’s China Gourmet certainly qualifies. They’ve been serving fine Chinese cuisine since 1977. In an era when restaurants close within months of opening, the fact that China Gourmet is still going strong in its fifth decade is an amazing testimony to its ownership.
I will be the first to admit that I am not the most eco-friendly person out there. I am terrible about recycling and I am constantly reminded about my eco failures by my closest friends. Therefore, when I heard about Greek To Me Prassino, I knew that my broad carbon footprinting required that I try it out.
Since opening in November 2007, Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar (519 Main St., Covington, 859-491-7777) has been a small, charming bistro where diners always find great seasonal food and excellent wines. Chef/owner Stephen Williams has been one of the leaders in using fresh, local food on his ever-changing menu. Williams creates a new menu at least five times a year and is currently in the process of drafting a spring version.
When I first heard that a new Irish restaurant was opening up downtown, I was happy but skeptical. Happy because it’s great that the corner space at Seventh and Race streets is once again occupied, but skeptical because I’ve never found Irish cuisine to be inspiring. Luckily, BagPipes Irish Pub is making a strong case to prove me wrong.
Banana Leaf Modern Thai restaurant has so much going for it. The restaurant is located in a well-preserved historic building in downtown Mason. It is visually beautiful with boldly painted walls, stunning lighting fixtures and a gold-painted ceiling. Everything is in place for this to be a great dining experience. Everything, that is, except the food.
Chef Matt Buschle doesn’t like to take the easy way out. Two years ago at the height of the recession as restaurants were closing all over the area, Buschle decided it was a good time to open up his dream restaurant. Virgils Café (710 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue, 859-491-3287) has been packed ever since.