October 31, 2019

27 Essential Suburban Cincinnati Restaurants You Should Have Visited By Now

While Over-the-Rhine's culinary scene receives most of the spotlight, there are plenty of notable restaurants located outside of the city that deserve some recognition. From scratch-made pizza joints to incredible Lebanese or authentic Italian and tasty barbecue, these top-notch eateries are absolutely worth the drive.  

Join the CityBeat Press Club

At a time when local-based reporting is critical, support from our readers is essential to our future. Support our coverage with a one-time or monthly donation.


Two Cities Pizza
202 W. Main St., Mason
New York City and Chicago are well-known for several things. But most importantly, each city is known for a particular style of pizza. New York pizza is hand-tossed with thin, wide slices and deliciously greasy cheese. Chicago style? You’re talking deep dish — a super thick round pie covered in chunky tomato sauce with a crunchy, flaky pan crust. Now, you don’t have to travel further than Mason to get a taste of both. Two Cities Pizza Company, a dining destination housed in Mason’s former city hall — with a bit of an Art Deco nightclub rebrand — closes the chasm between the dueling pizza metropolises. Go classic and grab a deep-dish Windy City with sausage, onion, green pepper and chunky tomato; and the Marathoner NYC-style margherita. In addition to pizza, they offer tempting best-of-both-worlds street food from each city, like a Chicago dog with all the fixings (no ketchup; add celery salt) or a New York dog with brown mustard and sauerkraut.
Photo via Facebook.com/TwoCitiesPizza

Two Cities Pizza

202 W. Main St., Mason
New York City and Chicago are well-known for several things. But most importantly, each city is known for a particular style of pizza. New York pizza is hand-tossed with thin, wide slices and deliciously greasy cheese. Chicago style? You’re talking deep dish — a super thick round pie covered in chunky tomato sauce with a crunchy, flaky pan crust. Now, you don’t have to travel further than Mason to get a taste of both. Two Cities Pizza Company, a dining destination housed in Mason’s former city hall — with a bit of an Art Deco nightclub rebrand — closes the chasm between the dueling pizza metropolises. Go classic and grab a deep-dish Windy City with sausage, onion, green pepper and chunky tomato; and the Marathoner NYC-style margherita. In addition to pizza, they offer tempting best-of-both-worlds street food from each city, like a Chicago dog with all the fixings (no ketchup; add celery salt) or a New York dog with brown mustard and sauerkraut.
Photo via Facebook.com/TwoCitiesPizza
Joe’s Pizza Napoli
507 Chamber Drive, Milford
Tucked away in the Cincinnati suburbs, Joe’s Pizza Napoli reaffirms faith in the Old World — in the value of utilizing traditional methods to prepare a meal — and it is a worth-the-drive dining destination no matter where you live in the city. Naples has strict guidelines for how pizza is made in their traditional style — 100-percent wood fired, certain ingredients, certain procedures. The characteristics of Neapolitan pizza include hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes; mozzarella cheese; a dough comprised of water, fresh yeast, flour (Caputo, a very fine 00 grit in this case); and salt. The hydration level on Joe’s pizza is about 60 percent. Everything is made fresh every day and owner Joe Nunner is proud not to have a freezer or a microwave anywhere in the kitchen. Along with his masterful pizzas (both red and white varieties), there are green salads, calzones, meatballs and cannelloni. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Joe’s Pizza Napoli

507 Chamber Drive, Milford
Tucked away in the Cincinnati suburbs, Joe’s Pizza Napoli reaffirms faith in the Old World — in the value of utilizing traditional methods to prepare a meal — and it is a worth-the-drive dining destination no matter where you live in the city. Naples has strict guidelines for how pizza is made in their traditional style — 100-percent wood fired, certain ingredients, certain procedures. The characteristics of Neapolitan pizza include hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes; mozzarella cheese; a dough comprised of water, fresh yeast, flour (Caputo, a very fine 00 grit in this case); and salt. The hydration level on Joe’s pizza is about 60 percent. Everything is made fresh every day and owner Joe Nunner is proud not to have a freezer or a microwave anywhere in the kitchen. Along with his masterful pizzas (both red and white varieties), there are green salads, calzones, meatballs and cannelloni.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Ando Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar
5889 Pfeiffer Road, Blue Ash
These days, it’s easy to find sushi in virtually any retail situation, be it a grocery store or large gas station, and in some of the higher-end joints, it can actually be quite palatable. But if you’ve always wanted to know what the best stuff is supposed to look and taste like, you owe it to yourself to experience sushi prepared by a master. Chef Ken Ando and his wife, Keiko, have been welcoming guests to Ando Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Blue Ash since 1998, where Ken prepares traditional Japanese cuisine accompanied by the couple’s daughter, Chiaki. The dining room includes a 10-seat sushi bar, which is the perfect place to watch Ken work his magic on the freshest of fish, sourced directly from Japan and Taiwan.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

Ando Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar

5889 Pfeiffer Road, Blue Ash
These days, it’s easy to find sushi in virtually any retail situation, be it a grocery store or large gas station, and in some of the higher-end joints, it can actually be quite palatable. But if you’ve always wanted to know what the best stuff is supposed to look and taste like, you owe it to yourself to experience sushi prepared by a master. Chef Ken Ando and his wife, Keiko, have been welcoming guests to Ando Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Blue Ash since 1998, where Ken prepares traditional Japanese cuisine accompanied by the couple’s daughter, Chiaki. The dining room includes a 10-seat sushi bar, which is the perfect place to watch Ken work his magic on the freshest of fish, sourced directly from Japan and Taiwan.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Ferrari’s Little Italy and Bakery
7677 Goff Terrace, Madeira
Boasting authentic Italian cuisine, Ferrari’s Little Italy and Bakery serves heaping servings of antipasti, pasta, pizza, panini and more atop red-and-white checkered tablecloths. Pair your plate with an affordable bottle of vino (both Italian and domestic) and never leave empty-handed: Ferrari’s is home to its own deli and bakery, so you can take meats, cheeses and boxes and boxes of cannoli home with you.
Photo via Facebook.com/FerrarisLittleItaly

Ferrari’s Little Italy and Bakery

7677 Goff Terrace, Madeira
Boasting authentic Italian cuisine, Ferrari’s Little Italy and Bakery serves heaping servings of antipasti, pasta, pizza, panini and more atop red-and-white checkered tablecloths. Pair your plate with an affordable bottle of vino (both Italian and domestic) and never leave empty-handed: Ferrari’s is home to its own deli and bakery, so you can take meats, cheeses and boxes and boxes of cannoli home with you.
Photo via Facebook.com/FerrarisLittleItaly
Tortilleria Garcia
11774 Springfield Pike, Springdale; 5917 Hamilton Ave., College Hill
Tortilleria Garcia will change everything you think you know about tacos. One might assume that the highlight of a taco is the protein or the salsa, but once you take a bite of a fresh corn tortilla made by restaurant owner Omar Garcia and his team, you’ll come to understand that — if made with respect for tradition and natural ingredients — what was once a mere vessel for taco fillings is now the centerpiece of the meal. Menu options here run the gamut from tamales, nachos and burritos to tacos, rotisserie chicken and fresh corn tortillas by the pack. (Note to self: Taco Tuesdays offer $1 tacos, less than half the standard price.) Recipes are inspired by those of Garcia’s mother and grandmother and the Mexican family farm where they grew corn when he was a child.
Photo: Paige Deglow

Tortilleria Garcia

11774 Springfield Pike, Springdale; 5917 Hamilton Ave., College Hill
Tortilleria Garcia will change everything you think you know about tacos. One might assume that the highlight of a taco is the protein or the salsa, but once you take a bite of a fresh corn tortilla made by restaurant owner Omar Garcia and his team, you’ll come to understand that — if made with respect for tradition and natural ingredients — what was once a mere vessel for taco fillings is now the centerpiece of the meal. Menu options here run the gamut from tamales, nachos and burritos to tacos, rotisserie chicken and fresh corn tortillas by the pack. (Note to self: Taco Tuesdays offer $1 tacos, less than half the standard price.) Recipes are inspired by those of Garcia’s mother and grandmother and the Mexican family farm where they grew corn when he was a child.
Photo: Paige Deglow
Brown Dog Cafe
1000 Summit Place, Blue Ash
Located in Summit Park, this sustainable and seasonal New American eatery features an ever-changing menu of fish, steaks, wild game, unique appetizers, vegetarian dishes, homemade pastas and desserts. 
Photo via Facebook.com/TheBrownDogCafe

Brown Dog Cafe

1000 Summit Place, Blue Ash
Located in Summit Park, this sustainable and seasonal New American eatery features an ever-changing menu of fish, steaks, wild game, unique appetizers, vegetarian dishes, homemade pastas and desserts.
Photo via Facebook.com/TheBrownDogCafe
BrewRiver Creole Kitchen
4632 Eastern Ave., Linwood
Hearing a Boogie-Woogie tune on the piano while sipping a craft cocktail on a brightly furnished patio with a magnolia tree in view — you wouldn’t even have to squint to think you were in New Orleans. The atmosphere and cuisine at BrewRiver Creole Kitchen brings the spirit of the Crescent City to Cincinnati in a stately 150-year-old building on Eastern Avenue. From 2011 until 2018, owner Joby Bowman and chef Michael Shields ran BrewRiver GastroPub on nearby Riverside Drive before deciding to branch out to a 200-seat restaurant with a 35-seat patio. Shields, who earned his chops under Emeril Lagasse, has added new items to the menu — broiled oysters, fried green tomatoes with a pecan cornmeal crust and bread pudding for dessert — but kept his focus on Creole cuisine. Try the Pasta Monica, which is inspired by the wildly popular Crawfish Monica from New Orleans Jazz Fest. The plump shrimp are generously coated in a Creole cream sauce, which manages to pack a major flavor punch without burning one’s tongue off. 
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

BrewRiver Creole Kitchen

4632 Eastern Ave., Linwood
Hearing a Boogie-Woogie tune on the piano while sipping a craft cocktail on a brightly furnished patio with a magnolia tree in view — you wouldn’t even have to squint to think you were in New Orleans. The atmosphere and cuisine at BrewRiver Creole Kitchen brings the spirit of the Crescent City to Cincinnati in a stately 150-year-old building on Eastern Avenue. From 2011 until 2018, owner Joby Bowman and chef Michael Shields ran BrewRiver GastroPub on nearby Riverside Drive before deciding to branch out to a 200-seat restaurant with a 35-seat patio. Shields, who earned his chops under Emeril Lagasse, has added new items to the menu — broiled oysters, fried green tomatoes with a pecan cornmeal crust and bread pudding for dessert — but kept his focus on Creole cuisine. Try the Pasta Monica, which is inspired by the wildly popular Crawfish Monica from New Orleans Jazz Fest. The plump shrimp are generously coated in a Creole cream sauce, which manages to pack a major flavor punch without burning one’s tongue off.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
S.W. Clybourne Co.
5948 Snider Road, Mason
Helmed by executive chef Mark Bodenstein, formerly of Piccolo Casa and Nuvo at Greenup, S.W. Clyborne Co. offers its provisions and spirits in a lineup of New-American-meets-Italian-meets-Southern dishes: fried chicken with macaroni and cheese, sweet corn and tomato carbonara, Queen City poutine, etc. But we’re here for the veggie burger. The mushroom lentil burger is a housemade patty crafted with roasted mushrooms and black beluga lentils, topped with lettuce, pickled onions, avocado and Sriracha aioli on a toasted potato bun.
Photo: Facebook.com/Clybornes

S.W. Clybourne Co.

5948 Snider Road, Mason
Helmed by executive chef Mark Bodenstein, formerly of Piccolo Casa and Nuvo at Greenup, S.W. Clyborne Co. offers its provisions and spirits in a lineup of New-American-meets-Italian-meets-Southern dishes: fried chicken with macaroni and cheese, sweet corn and tomato carbonara, Queen City poutine, etc. But we’re here for the veggie burger. The mushroom lentil burger is a housemade patty crafted with roasted mushrooms and black beluga lentils, topped with lettuce, pickled onions, avocado and Sriracha aioli on a toasted potato bun.
Photo: Facebook.com/Clybornes
Carlo and Johnny
9769 Montgomery Road, Montgomery
This is a Jeff Ruby restaurant, so you know the emphasis is on big dry-aged steaks and red meat. But you’ll also find a respectable raw bar and some tasty sushi, as well as wood-grilled Atlantic salmon and more. Leave room for dessert: The choices are as decadent as everything else in this place. The highly stylized “1930s gangster steakhouse” has three separate dining rooms: the Emerald, the Ivory and the Grill. They’re all great places to see and be seen, so keep an eye peeled for local celebs and Cincinnati movers and shakers in a carnivorous mood.
Photo via Facebook.com/JeffRubysCarloAndJohnny

Carlo and Johnny

9769 Montgomery Road, Montgomery
This is a Jeff Ruby restaurant, so you know the emphasis is on big dry-aged steaks and red meat. But you’ll also find a respectable raw bar and some tasty sushi, as well as wood-grilled Atlantic salmon and more. Leave room for dessert: The choices are as decadent as everything else in this place. The highly stylized “1930s gangster steakhouse” has three separate dining rooms: the Emerald, the Ivory and the Grill. They’re all great places to see and be seen, so keep an eye peeled for local celebs and Cincinnati movers and shakers in a carnivorous mood.
Photo via Facebook.com/JeffRubysCarloAndJohnny
CWC the Restaurant
1517 Springfield Pike, Wyoming
To borrow from the tagline for the original Disneyland in California, CWC the Restaurant might just be the friendliest place on Earth — or at least in Cincinnati. CWC, from Cooking with Caitlin chef Caitlin Steininger’s longtime catering business, opened on Springfield Pike in a building that used to be a carwash. The menu isn’t extensive, with “shareables” or “starters” — just about everyone orders homemade baby biscuits with tomato jam and corn butter — and a half-dozen “Mains,” like the Char Cheddar Burger covered in a housemade cheese sauce. Dessert is a strong suit here. The restaurant is only open for dinner on Friday and Saturday and brunch on Sunday. Go for brunch and order the Breakfast Nachos, which everyone raves about. Chips come topped with charred tomato-chipotle salsa, homemade queso, crumbled goetta and fried egg.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger

CWC the Restaurant

1517 Springfield Pike, Wyoming
To borrow from the tagline for the original Disneyland in California, CWC the Restaurant might just be the friendliest place on Earth — or at least in Cincinnati. CWC, from Cooking with Caitlin chef Caitlin Steininger’s longtime catering business, opened on Springfield Pike in a building that used to be a carwash. The menu isn’t extensive, with “shareables” or “starters” — just about everyone orders homemade baby biscuits with tomato jam and corn butter — and a half-dozen “Mains,” like the Char Cheddar Burger covered in a housemade cheese sauce. Dessert is a strong suit here. The restaurant is only open for dinner on Friday and Saturday and brunch on Sunday. Go for brunch and order the Breakfast Nachos, which everyone raves about. Chips come topped with charred tomato-chipotle salsa, homemade queso, crumbled goetta and fried egg.
Photo: Hailey Bollinger