One of the perks of my job is that my travelling allows me to see friends in many places… so when I found myself needing to be in Cleveland on a Friday as well as the following Monday, I called up two of my VIP’s in life and scheduled what I am now calling a most epic weekend in the CLE.
After a day of travel and meetings, Erica and I met up to get ready for our night, quickly uber-ing from the lake front to the East Fourth area for a quick drink before dinner. We hopped out of the uber and walked down a very cute cobblestone alley with live music and plenty of outdoor seating to choose from. We picked spots at the bar in Butcher and the Brewer, and ordered two wine flights, one red and one white.
(Pardon the blurry text, as you can see Butcher and the Brewer specializes in beer as well as wine. They had a cider on the menu that was GF, but the wine flights seemed a tad more exciting.)
The picture below turned out great despite the waitress being unbelievably unhappy we’d asked her to take a picture.
After our flights we walked over to Chinato for dinner. It’s right down the alley from B&B on 4th street.
Ristorante Chinato highlights the simplicity of all Italian cuisine. Which is great because Erica was able to enjoy her scallops with pisarei, brocolini and lobster sauce…
… while I dug into gluten-free pasta prepared with braised short rib, cold burrata and red sauce. The entire plate disappeared faster than you can say Prego.
Chinato seemed very well versed in gluten-free preparation, and I felt safe ordering my meal from our server. He also brought gluten-free bread to the table, which was a very nice touch, and was free (which is rare). It did end up being toasted Udi’s bread sliced in half, but it’s the thought that counts. Erica and I both enjoyed dipping it in olive oil.
After dinner we went to Green House Tavern and headed up to their roof top bar. This is apparently the only roof top bar around?! We snagged a spot and enjoyed our drinks al fresco. Erica’s cousin Natalie and her friends joined up with us before we all headed to Ohio City to continue the night!
Erica’s boyfriend Tom joined us as well!
We spent the rest of the night in the Ohio City area, hopping from bar to bar, enjoying the unbelievably mild summer night. There must have been something else going on in the city that night because according to the group, the bars weren’t as packed as per usual for a Friday. No crowds meant no lines, so having the bars to ourselves didn’t bother me a bit!
The next morning Erica and I woke up, washed our faces, and headed for the West Side Market.
This is a farmer’s market goer’s wet dream! You make your way through stands of fresh, exotic fruits and vegetables. Shouts from sellers left and right encourage you to try the “sweetest cherries in the market” or the “freshest cantaloupe” and if you linger too long, they’ll try and sell you five pounds fruit for a “deal”.
Inside, you’ll find anything you’d ever need to host a first class dinner party. From fish, to prepared ethnic cuisine, to some of the most gorgeous baked goods you’ll ever see, this place is packed to the brim with options.
It’s clear that some of these stalls have had the same proud owners for generations. If you frequent the market, you know who has the best of the best, and get in line to place your order. One of the busiest lines? The coffee stall of course.
What I would do to have bitten into one of these…
I settled for a bag of cherries and two mangos I got for a “deal” and we headed on out to meet VIP #2 for lunch.
I was advised to take a picture of this wall, but I cannot remember the name of it… CLE people, what’s this gem called? Comment below for me 🙂
We finally met up with Chelsea. Isn’t she cute?
The menu was pretty large, and featured two GF symbols, gluten-free and gluten-free available. This is always something I question when ordering at a restaurant, because a lot of the time places will offer menu items that can be modified for a gluten-free preference, but not allergy/celiac. Always ask before you order!
I started with an iced coffee.. and for what it was… (unsweetened black coffee with some cream over ice) the fact that they charged me $5 for it really bothered me, but the food distracted me from this pretty quickly…
Chelsea had a gorgeous salmon benedict with home fries.
Erica and I had the same thing: a sausage and egg sandwich that came topped with avocado, arugula and aiole on the most amazing gluten-free bun. When it arrived I questioned it’s authenticity and actually asked the waitress to confirm my order. Town Hall, wherever you get your buns, I want a private stash… I applaud your gluten-freedom and I’m a bad blogger for not having asked where those pillowy, tasty dreams came from.
After lunch we all hopped in the car and headed up to Marblehead to meet the rest of Erica’s family for a fun day/night at their lake house.
Erica’s entire family greeted us with hugs and drinks, and we spent the afternoon boating, tubing, jet skiing, and snacking on Kimmy’s home made dips and snacks. We even boated over to Cedar Point, Ohio’s largest amusement park. You can actually dock your boat and get on the rides, tell me that’s not cool?
Sometime between 2-3pm in the afternoon we noticed the power had gone out. Making due with the lack of electricity, Mr. Virzi grilled our entire dinner and as we sat down to feast on steaks and corn from the local farm, the power turned back on!
We finished off the night with ice cream from a local stand, got into our pjs and gossiped in our bunks until we all dozed off. The next morning we awoke to coffee and Mr. Virzi’s breakfast sandwiches.
Chelsea, Erica and I got one last swim in with a local celebrity, Max. I’m sure you’ve heard of him, he’s kind of a big deal. After we said our goodbyes to Erica and her family, Chelsea and I headed to her house just in time to climb in the car with her parents for dinner in Little Italy.
Chelsea’s mom picked Anthony’s restaurant and bar. It’s right on the main strip of Little Italy, and it boasts gluten-freedom to the max.
We were not disappointed. We started with a caprese salad: baby mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, tossed with mixed greens and olive oil, drizzled with balsamic glaze.
Chelsea and I got the same thing: Chicken Piccata. One is gluten-free, the other is not. Can you guess which one is which?
Then, something happened. Our waitress brought out gluten-free homemade fried cinnamon doughnuts, drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce. The chef sent them out because she noticed we had ordered a gluten-free dish for the table.
I know the chef will probably never read this, but if she does, I hope she knows how special this was for me. Gluten-free dessert is hard to come by, and is usually looked at as a burden, rather than a treat. So the fact that she treated us to a little slice of gluten-free heaven was really something. Not to mention the doughnuts were freakin’ amazing! We ate them all. And because it was national ice cream day, we sucked it up (or should I say in) and made a pit stop on the way home… you know… to celebrate the holiday.
Anthony’s you have a special place in my heart! I will be back again the next time I come to CLE!
The next morning I packed up my things, said my goodbyes, went to my final meeting and then headed back to the airport. I will be back Cleveland! You surprised me, and I can’t wait to see what else you have to offer. A special thank you to the Virzi and Nehez families for hosting me during the weekend! You made me feel right at home!