Over-the-Rhine's Nicola's has been a mainstay for high-end, authentic Italian cuisine for the past two decades. A celeb-spotting treasure, Nicolas renown is undeniable. One of Cincinnatis 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.
In June of 2018, executive chef Jack Hemmer came on board. He had cooked at Nicolas a few years ago and left for other local kitchens, including a stint as executive chef at Mercer OTR when it first opened.
Hemmer, 30, has known the Pietoso family most of his life, so returning to Nicolas as executive chef felt like a homecoming for all concerned. He and his team retained some fan-favorite menu items that he said absolutely deserve keeping, such as a couple of pastas tagliatelle with Bolognese sauce and four-cheese gnocchi along with a goat cheese salad. And since June, Hemmer has developed several intriguing appetizers, pastas and entrées. He said that on the fall menu he especially recommends the duck leg and octopus starters; tortelloni pasta with a mélange of ingredients that balance savory, sweet, spice and acidity; and a pan-seared branzino entrée.
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Nicolas, 1420 Sycamore St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-721-6200, nicolasotr.com.
Photos by Hailey Bollinger