The Foodie Report
Ruminations on food, cooking in and eating out in our area.

It's entirely possible to be a vegetarian in Porkopolis. Pop culture reporter Lauren Bishop blogs about products, recipes and restaurants she's tried for others who eat meat-free. E-mail her at lbishop@enquirer.com.

Nicci King is an unabashed foodie and the Lifestyle/Food editor in The Enquirer's features department. She loves to discover new food faves, and she's on a daily quest to answer one burning question: What's for dinner? E-mail her at nking@enquirer.com.

Enquirer Weekend editor Julie Gaw tends to order the same dish every time she eats at a restaurant, but periodically ventures out to discover something new and fabulous. After living in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand for more than 8 years, she craves tasty Asian food. E-mail her at jgaw@enquirer.com.

Food/dining writer Polly Campbell loves every quirk and secret of Cincinnati's food personality, and is on a constant lookout for something good to eat. Keep an eye out for her restaurant picks, or see how she's progressing toward becoming famous for her apple pie. E-mail her at pcampbell@enquirer.com.

Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bella Luna & more Italian

This note from a reader about Bella Luna:

"My husband and I were joined by my sister and her husband for dinner recently to celebrate Valentines Day. We decided to try something different and chose Bella Luna Restaurant on Eastern Ave. in Linwood. It turned out to be an excellent choice.

"Bella Luna is a quaint little Italian, family owned and ran, restaurant. The food was delicious, portions generous and atmosphere cozy and unique. Prices were $15 - $25 range. The owner, Harry Evans, took the time to visit our table as well as many others. It was very refreshing."

Read what Polly Campbell and CiN Weekly have to say about it.

But what's the deal w/ Italian restaurants here? It seems to me there should be more non-chain, good Italian joints in this town. Where do I usually end up? Carrabba's, and I don't even like chains - though I do love the Rigatoni Martino there. My fiance even declared Carrabba's better than his old standby, Maggiano's Little Italy. I should make an effort to venture out more. I still need to try Pitrelli's in Mason and Antonio's Ristorante in West Chester. So much to eat, where to begin!?


at 5:56 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Pitrelli's. It's small and cozy, and the food and service are great.
Not such a fan of Antonio's ...

at 9:45 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try barresi's in Deer Park or Nicola's downtown. Both are really good. Barresi's is more traditional, Nicola's is contemporary.

at 10:09 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to frequent Barresi’s many moons ago and loved it, but no longer live or work in the area. I read that the Barresi family sold the restaurant not too long ago. Anyone with first-hand experience of the changes? Are the new owners still offering cooking classes? I am always interested in finding out about cooking classes in the Cincy area. (The website is http://www.barresis.com/, but as with websites of many local restaurants, I wonder how current they are.)

at 9:40 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only began visiting Barresi's in the last couple years. I don't know about how it used to be, or anything about cooking classes. But all I can say is that I've always found the food, service and atmosphere to be flawless (and I've eaten there as recently as a couple months ago). That's getting to be a rare attribute at any price these days.

at 9:41 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I quite like Karlo's Bistro Italia, in Florence.

at 10:19 AM Anonymous brando315 said...

Maggiano's?? Carrabba's??? And you call yourself a food writer????? ;-)

Amazing how those chain restaurants can be soooo convenient isn't it?? Yes, I myself have tried them. HATE Maggiano's and their "tour" of the menu. Carrabba's I must admit isn't bad. I even tried Macaroni Grill, although the noise level in that joint made me want to kill myself. I will not even discuss Olive Garden (45 minute wait????).

Try Pitrelli's, great little place without the constant attempts of "upselling" by the waitstaff.

Italian food is so much more than the homogenized entrees the big chains offer, get out there, and experience real Italian food, cooked the way any Italian would appreciate.

at 10:47 AM Blogger Julie Gaw said...

Hi Brando -
Pitrelli's is definitely on the list. I've heard great things about it. And to be honest, I don't consider myself a food writer. As editor of the Weekend section, I'm constantly scouring the city as I drive around and keeping my ears open at dinner parties to find "new" or undiscovered restaurants for us to check out. But at base, I'm a real person who loves to eat. Do I eat gourmet all the time? No. Do I take shortcuts sometimes? Absolutely. And I'll make no apologies for that. Would it be great if I had more leisure time to drive across town to try a new spot? You bet. But I'll keep trying!

at 3:54 PM Blogger Julie Gaw said...

To Anonymous - I phoned Barresi's, and they have another wine tasting coming up March 20 (Italian wines). It should be posted here soon. http://www.barresis.com/events/
Chef/owner Sarah Wagner is the only one conducting cooking classes at the moment, but since she's expecting a baby in June, she doesn't think she'll be able to teach the classes again till after the baby is born.

at 8:30 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Support downtown Cincinnati - go to Trattoria Roma across from the Aranoff. It has great food and great service.

at 8:46 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vincenzo's in Tri-County is also good. I love Nicola's. I agree, I can't imagine anyone considering Maggianos or Carrabbas to be Italian restaurants -- more like feeding troughs.

at 3:47 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try Antonio's. It is truly a wonderful quiet place to enjoy your evening meal with the food being absolutely the best!!!!!!!!M. Johnson

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