Pricing Guide$ = Inexpensive (entrées $6 and under).
$$ = Reasonable ($7-$13).
$$$ = Moderate ($14-$20).
$$$$ = Expensive ($21 and over).
Payment GuideAC = All credit cards accepted.
SC = Some credit cards accepted.
AP = All forms of payment accepted.
CA = Checks accepted.
LC = Local checks only.
CO = Cash only.
NC = Credit cards not accepted.
Downtownaioli — This new downtown eatery mixes classic French offerings with a creative use of herbs and spices and a Southwestern kick. Start with the Roasted Pumpkin Bisque and finish with The Creme Caramel, a lovely mini flan with a beautiful texture and a gorgeous golden orange sauce. Dusted with cinnamon and strewn with raspberries, it's a great way to top things off. (LM, 1-11-01) Lunch: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Monday-Friday; Dinner: 5-10:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday; Closed Sunday. 700 Elm St., Downtown. 513-929-0525. ($$-$$$, SC)
ARNOLD'S BAR & GRILL — Located in the historic building where the Arnold family first opened their saloon in 1861, this eatery features homemade dishes and daily specials. Some house specialties include Spaghetti Deluxe, Nona Sauca and the Pasta Roelle. Salads and sandwiches are also available. (AM, 3-30-00) 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday-Saturday; closed Sunday. Kitchen closes at 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 210 E. Eighth St., Downtown. 513-421-6234. ($-$$, SC)
BARRELHOUSE — Be sure to sample the microbrews, in particular the Honeysuckle Blond. Appetizers, specialty pizzas and sandwiches fill the menu. House specialties include the BarrelHouse Bread & Dip Platters, the Potato Pizza and Diamond Charlie's Muffaletta. Winner of "Best Brewpub." 11-2:30 a.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 4 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Sunday; closed on Monday. 22 E. 12th St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-421-2337. ($-$$, AC)
KALDI'S COFFEE HOUSE — Come experience the Bohemian coffeehouse atmosphere that first linked caffeine and literary works together. After selecting your tome, you might try the vegetarian lasagna or the red beans and rice. In addition, the menu features muffins, a cheese and fruit plate, hummus and homespun desserts. Coffee selections contain real liqueurs, and there's a tasteful wine selection. Winner of "Best Coffeehouse." 8-1 a.m. Monday-Thursday; 8-2:30 a.m. Friday; 10-2:30 a.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-midnight Sunday. 1204 Main St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-241-3070. ($, SC)
THE MAISONETTE — Cincinnati's five-star restaurant provides elegant formal dining and a menu with a variety of French and Mediterranean cuisine alongside an ample wine selection. Entrées include the Trecce Pasta, Sautéed Striped Bass and Cheese Soufflé. For dessert, sample a Crêpe Suzette. Be sure to ask about the daily specials. Take advantage of the "Fashionably L'Eight" plan that allows you to order from a special menu for $60 a person after 8 p.m., Thursdays. Winner of "Best Waitstaff/Service" and "Best Place to Impress Your Date." Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. Dinner: 6-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; 5:30-11 p.m. Saturday. 114 E. Sixth St., Downtown. 513-721-2260. ($$$$, AC)
Montgomery Inn — A Cincinnati player for almost 50 years, Ted Gregory is simply known around town as "The Ribs King." So, of course the only choice is their specialty: barbecued pork loin back ribs smothered with their famous Montgomery Inn barbecue sauce. If you're not all about ribs, mix in a shrimp or chicken combination. Winner of "Best Overall Restaurant." (JG, 4-19-01) 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 3-11 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. 9440 Montgomery Road, Montgomery, 513-791-3482; 925 Eastern Ave., Downtown, 513-721-7427. ($$$, AC)
MuLLANE's PARKSIDE CAFE — After a brief hiatus, this down-to-earth restaurant is back with the same hearty vegetarian fare and familiar faces waiting tables. Customer favorites for lunch include the peanut butter banana sunflower seed sandwich, the spinach sauté served over rice or pasta and the Greek salad. For dinner, try the Vegetarian Saute, the Parkside Salad or the Pasta with Herb Tomato Sauce. Winner of "Best Salads" and "Best Vegetarian." (AM, 7-13-00) 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 5-11 p.m. Saturday. 723 Race St., Downtown. 513-381-1331. ($$, CA, NC)
restaurant at the phoenix — Since the late 1980s, The Phoenix has been an intimate and chic expericence with a fresh approach to fine dining. Start things off with the rich and smooth Lobster Bisque or the crisp Baby Romaine Caesar Salad. As an entree, try the beautifully presented Seared Tuna. Seared on all sides with salted pepper glaze, it rests on a bed of roasted artichoke wedges, tiny, sweet red potatoes and slivers of Nicoise olives. As for desert, the surprising and fresh Burnt Orange Parfait is a fabulous palate pleaser. (LM, 4-19-01) 5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 5-10 p.m. Satuday. Closed Sunday. 812 Race St., Downtown. 513-721-8901. ($$$-$$$$, SC)
scotti's Italian restaurant — Established in 1912 and still run by the same family for the past 48 years, Scotti's remains an essential stop for those with an authenitic Italian itch. Be prepared for an old-world experience (opera in the background and checkered table clothes beneath the food). The pasta and veal are house specialties. Winner of "Best Italian." (JG, 4-19-01) Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; Dinner: 5:00-8:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 5:00-9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 919 Vine St., Downtown. 513-721-9484. ($$$, SC)
SYMPHONY HOTEL AND RESTAURANT — Just north of Music Hall is a European-style surprise. The fixed-price menu offers soup, rolls, salad, a choice of three entrées and dessert. The main course have included linguine, pork tenderloin and chicken breast The dessert selections include chocolate cake, raspberry pie and New York cheesecake. The atmosphere, service and menu selections blend together in beautiful harmony. (LM, 10-12-00) Reservations between 5:30-6:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays when the Cincinnati Symphony is performing at Music Hall. 210 W. 14h St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-721-3353. ($$-$$$, SC)
Centralambar india — Located amongst the eclectic atmosphere of Ludlow Avenue, Ambar is Indian at its best: hot, rich and spicy. The menu offers dishes with subtle differences in ingredients and an extensive range of vegetarian alternatives that are no less loaded with flavor. Winner of "Best Indian." (CK, 4-19-01) Lunch:11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; Dinner: 5-10 p.m. Monday-Friday. 5-10 p.m. Saturday; 12-9:30 p.m. Sunday. 350 Ludlow Ave., Clifton. 513-281-7000. ($$, SC)
camp washington chili — An institution since 1948, this newly re-built chili joint features just what you'd think: good chili. An eclectic, bustling crowd keep things interesting and they even serve breakfast or sandwiches for those who have exhausted their chili fix. Winner of "Best Chili (Non-Chain)" (JG, 4-19-01) Open 24 Hours. 3005 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington. 513-541-0061. ($, CO)
HEALING EARTH CAFE — The self-described "totally natural vegetarian deli" offers fresh fruit smoothies and veggie juice combinations. Also serves up organic salads, veggie sandwiches and occasional soups. (AM, 7-13-00) 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday. 216 W. McMillan, Clifton. 513-241-2246. ($, CA, NC)
Mecklenburg Gardens — Built in 1865, this historic Zinzinnati eatery features all the traditional German cuisine, but also has a variety of lighter choices. Of course, who's not going to partake in the metts, brats, sauerkraut balls and the like. And don't forget to wash it down with something from their extensive selection of bottled and draft beers. Winner of "Best German." (JG, 4-19-01) 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday. 302 E. University Ave., Corryville. 513-221-5363. ($$-$$$, AC)
teak thai cuisine — Offers spice intensity on the food ranging from 1-10. Start off with Spring Rolls filled to the brim with savory crab meat, carrots and ginger. Then sample the steamed mussels or the chicken with coconut soup. House specialties include Spicy Mung Bean Noodle Salad and Spicy Pork Prawn. Two entrées that make the grade are the Green Curry Chicken and the Sweet & Sour Pork, both Thai style. Parking is available. Winner of "Best Asian." Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday. Dinner: 5-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5-10 p.m. Friday; 3-11 p.m. Saturday; 5-9 p.m. Sunday. 1049 St. Gregory St., Mount Adams. 513-665-9800. ($$, AP)Northern KentuckyAnchor Grill — Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Anchor Grill is an essential early morning grub stop after a night of carousing. The menu is classic short-order (breakfast, sandwiches, desserts) and the waitresses will remind you of your aunt Minnie. Winner of "Best 24 Hour Restaurant." (JG, 4-19-01) Open 24 hours. 438 Pike St., Covington. 859-431-9498. ($, CO)
behle street cafe — The menu of this family-owned cafe is an appealing variety of standard pub-grub appetizers, soups, salads, pasta, ribs, fajitas, seafood and meat entrees. You can't go wrong with their Caesar, Spinach or Greek side salads. And be sure to douse your choice with "Tommy's Famous Greek Dressing," which is so good, you'll shine your bowl with your equally delicious French loaf. The N.Y. Strip steak is a solid entree choice. It's a quality cut, well-seasoned piece of meat. For those with a lighter palette, try the fabulous, Capellini Vegetarian. (DA, 5-24-01) 11 a.m.-midnight; bar open till 1 a.m.; 50 East Rivercenter Blvd., Covington. 859-291-4100. ($$$, AC)
Cock & Bull English Pub — Located in historic Mainstrasse Village, this English-style pub is a great find for socializing and casual dining. Cock & Bull offers both traditional pub grub as well as American favorites with a twist. The hearty Queens Nachos are good way to get things started. The Crispy Drumettes are a interesting twist on chicken wings and are perfect with a good draught beer. Bangers 'n' Mash or the Fish 'n' Chips are good entree choices. End your meal with a frothy Murphy's Irish Stout or a coffee with Bailey's. (AM, 4-12-01) Noon-1 a.m. Sunday; 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday-Saturday. Sixth and Main streets, Covington. 859-581-4253. ($$-$$$, SC)
COCO'S — This well-established Covington destination remains a recomended favorite. The smoked salmon rolls are something new and unique to start things off and the Caesar salad is superb. Entree selections run the gamut from pasta to seafood, steaks, and chops. The Southwestern house specialties are the way to go and the deserts are excellent. (CB, 2-22-01) 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5 p.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday. 322 Greenup St., Covington. 859-491-1269. ($$$, SC)
crab 'n' creations — This seafood restaurant is decorated like an undersea kingdom complete with fishing nets and a bridge into the dining area. Serves an incredibly extensive menu of shellfish — au gratin, deepfried or sauteed — including king crab, snow crab, blue crab, Dungeness and lobster. (AM, 12-14-00) 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 4-11 p.m. Saturday; 4-10 p.m. Sunday. 433 Johnson St., Covington. 859-491-9888. ($$-$$$, AC)
HARRY'S HOMETOWN DINER — This is retro done right, as the diner re-creates a world that includes an original jukebox with tunes from the '50s and '60s. But it's the menu and the food that will really take you back in time. Harry's offers a daily Blue Plate Special, Harry's Diner Dinners — including Angie's Meatloaf (two thin slices of finely ground meat mixed with herbs and pepper). Other fare includes delicious shakes, salads fried cod, Fried Chicken Salad and the Big Bopper, a one-third-pound burger with a grilled brat, Swiss cheese and onion, plus many other sandwich choices. (LM, 6-8-00) 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m Friday; 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday. 6875 Alexandria Pike, Alexandria. 859-635-1943. ($, SC)
Indigo gourmet casual cafe — This relaxed, Fort Mitchell Cafe has a diverse menu that is attractive to nearly every segment of the dining public. Meal choices are divided into five catagories: sandwiches, pastas, pizzas, salads and calzones. Some of the regular salad selections are imaginative combinations. The Hyde Parker, for example, consists of portobello mushrooms, sundried cranberries, feta and Creole Dijon dressing. And then there are pizzas. Gourmet varieties are tempting, such as the Cuban Black Bean Pizza or Sicilian Tapanade covered in deli meats and bananna peppers and smothered in mozzarella. And don't forget the sauces as an adding topping to your pasta dish. The Alfredo is especially delicious. (AM, 3-15-01) 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday; 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. 2053 Dixie Highway, Fort Mitchell. 859-331-4339. ($$, AC)
JO AN — This restaurant, tucked into an Erlanger office building, offers a sophisticated sushi menu — tuna, shrimp, octopus, California rolls, crab and plum-basil rolls. Also serves Kureson Goma Ae, a pressed, chilled watercress salad with sesame dressing; Yasai Tempura, lightly battered vegetables; and Gyu Niku Teriyaki, grilled beef teriyaki. (AM, 5-18-00) Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Dinner: 5:30-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday. 3940 Olympic Blvd., Suite 135, Erlanger. 859-746-2634. ($$$-$$$$, SC)
MARGO AND JIMMY'S — Carribean, Italian and American cuisine with up to three lunch and dinner specials served daily. The Salmon Poppers lathered in dill and garlic are a must-try appetizer, but the Fried Calamari and the Blue Cheese Onion Tart are also excellent choices. The house salads are complemented by homemade dressings. Special house entrées include the eggplant parmesan and the Captain Morgan's steak special. And the Penne Pasta and Chicken Livers are a garlic-lover's paradise. (AM, 8-3-00) 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. 404 Pike St., Covington. 859-581-3730. ($$-$$$, SC)
Petersen's Promontory bar and grill — Newly re-opened last fall after some sprucing up by new chef/owner Dan Chrzanowski, this Mount Adams eatery echoes the original Petersen's Modern American fare. Prices and portions are reasonable, and the decore is "contemporary cozy." A fabulous entree choice is the Almond Crusted Filet of Seabass, steamed basmati rice, sauteed spinach and yellow tomato-saffron sauce. Be sure to end your meal with the light, delicious and beautifully presented Mascarpone Cheesecake. Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m Monday-Saturday; Dinner: 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; Closed Sunday. 1111 St. Gregory St., Mount Adams. 513-651-4777. ($$$, SC)
ZEBO's — Tucked inside of Covington's RiverCenter Marriott, this hotel restaurant caters to more than just the business traveler. It provides an incredible view of the Cincinnati skyline. Before an entrée, try a cup of Louisiana Seafood and Sausage Gumbo, which is full of baby shrimp, scallops and andouille sausage. The main course choices offer enough food for two people in a single serving. The filet is served with stacked au gratin potatoes, and the seabass is baked with crab meat, topped with white wine butter sauce and served over creamy polenta. The large portions and the million-dollar view comes with a price, but Zebo's offers an elegant riverside dining experience. (AM, 8-31-00) Breakfast: 7-11:30 a.m.; Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Dinner: 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 10 W. RiverCenter Blvd., Covington. 859-392-3750. ($$$-$$$$, SC)West & NorthwestABRACADABRA CAFE — A rotating staff of 25 local magicians stroll from table to table performing entertaining acts of illusion. The Chinese Firecrackers and the Southwestern Cheesy Chicken Soup are an opening crowd pleaser. During a break from the dazzlement, try the Cajun duck breast, the Steak Houdini or the Queen City Chops as the main course. Finish your act with the seven-layer carrot cake or Ken's Famous Cheesecake. (AM, 6-29-00) Lunch: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday. Dinner: 5-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 622 Riegert Square, Fairfield. 513-895-2233. ($$-$$$$, AC)
ANTHONY'S RESTAURANT — A newer eatery on the West side that offers fresh takes on pasta dishes, such as Asian stir-fry seasoned pork and veal scaloppine. Crimini and Pierogies (pasta stuffed with potatoes and cheddar sauteed with butter and bacon) puts a new spin on the traditional appetizer as well. The house band Vigor provides live entertainment Wednesday-Saturday. (AM, 11-16-00) Lunch: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Dinner: 4-9 p.m. Sunday-Tuesday; 4-10 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 4-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Brunch: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. 3613 Harrison Ave., Cheviot. 513-389-9222. ($$$, SC)
The Chili pot — For an inexpensive, hearty meal that's off the beaten path, The Chili Pot is your spot. Lunch choices are a mix of hot sandwiches and dinners are good 'ol American homestyle favorites. The dreadfully delicious Chicken Quesadilla is stuffed full of bacon, cheese, grilled onions, salsa and crisp, deep-fried chicken. And don't forget their hangover-proof breakfast menu. The best choice for your post-party celebration is Cash's Mountain Man Breakfast. (AM, 3-22-01) 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday. 2702 Hyannis Drive, Bevis. 513-742-8414. ($, SC)
DELHI HOUSE — This Sayler Park landmark features a Basic Burger, a Half-Pound Chopped Sirloin Deluxe, Fishettes and Hudy Delight draughts. The food's tasty, the beers cold and they're both reasonably priced. (AM, 8-21-00) 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday. 6344 Gracely Drive, Sayler Park. 513-941-5888. ($-$$, SC)
encore cafe — Paul Sturkey is back with this West Chester neighborhood restaurant. The menu is an enticingly good read to start the evening, accompanied by a diverse wine list. Start things off with the Shrimp Crabcakes or the Bleu Cheese and Wild Mushrooms, and don't forget the Romaine Wedge, a phenomenal example of the creative flavor and texture that Sturkey does so well. For the main course, try the Cashew Crusted Atlantic Salmon (nut-dusted, moist and flaky, grilled fish; drizzled with a sweet and spicy hoisin sauce) or the Encore Pasta (reminiscent of a trip to the back roads of Italy). A delightful way to end your meal is the Pizzelle Caramel and Apple Napoeon, followed by a good cup of coffee. (LM, 2-15-01) Lunch: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday; Dinner: 5-10 p.m. Monday-Sunday. 7305 Tylersville Road, West Chester. 513-759-0200. ($$$, SC)
the friendly stop cafe — For families, couples and drinkin' loiterers alike, this neighborhood cafe features tasty sandwiches of all kinds. But before that, try the disgusting, yet delicious Garbage Nachos, and don't forget to knock back a few of the dollar drafts. (AM, 1-25-01) 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday. 985 Congress Ave., Glendale. 513-771-7427. ($, CO)
Grand finale — Located in the heart of Glendale's historic village district, Grande Finale remains the ultimate special occasion destination. Their decadent deserts steal the show, so check your calorie counters at the door. The gigantic cheesecakes are a house specialty, with the Apple Cinnamon Cheesecake especially tasty. Oh yeah, the place actually serves meat and vegetables too. Of the entrees, the Broiled Halibut and the Veal Chop are top choices. And the Sunday brunch is just as hearty as any meal and as decadent as each dessert. (AM, 5-10-01) Lunch: 11:15 a.m-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; Dinner: 4-10 p.m. Tuesday- Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Sunday; Sunday Brunch: 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; Closed Mondays. 3 E. Sharon Ave., Glendale. 513-771-5925. ($$$-$$$$, SC)
IRON HORSE INN — Tucked into the quaint business district of Glendale, the Iron Horse Inn bears witness to the Sawyer brothers admirable job of creating a new-old dining experience. Start your meal off with the Grilled Jumbo Shrimp or the Duck Sausage with portobello mushrooms. Then move on to either a House Salad or Caesar Salad with your Lobster and Bay Scallop Jambalaya. Or try the New York Strip Steak, served with onion-mashed potatoes and nicely sauteed summer vegetables. A menu for children is available and live Jazz is featured some evenings. (LM, 3-8-01) Lunch: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday.; Sunday Brunch: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Dinner: 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday; 4:30-11 p.m. Saturday.; 4:30-9 p.m. Sunday. 40 Village Square, Glendale. 513-771-4787. ($$-$$$$, AC)
LaRosa's — Long a Cincinnati tradition, LaRosa's trademark sweet sauce was the secret recipe of proprietor Buddy LaRosa's mother. Over the years that recipe has been a staple with two generations of pizza lovers. While pizza remains their specialty, they also have the Italian favorites: spaghetti with meatballs, hoagies, lasagna and a new twist: calzones. While the quality can vary depending on location, the Boudinot store is a can't miss. Winner of "Best Pizza (Chain)." (JG, 4-19-01) Multiple Locations. 347-1111. ($$, AC)
Market street grille — Located in downtown Harrison, this neigborhood favorite has an extensive menu and an impressive selection of draft beers. A sure bet is the Fish and Chips Dinner and one of their delicious homemade soups. (AM, 1-25-01) 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday Brunch; 2-8 p.m. Sunday Dinner. 205 Harrison Ave., Harrison. 513-202-0200. ($$, SC)East & NortheastAMARIN — This Thai restaurant is housed in a former bank, which makes for a tight squeeze within the dining room. The Chicken Satay and Poh Piah Tod (Thai Rolls) don't last long, but the entrées fill the void. The Chicken Thai Spicy is a hearty plate full of broccoli, baby corn, bok choy and sliced stir-fried chicken in a spicy red curry sauce. The Pad Thai, a classic staple, combines chicken and shrimp with crunchy bean sprouts and crushed peppers. The Nigiri Sushi Deluxe or Vegetable Rainbow also might leave you with no room for dessert. (AM, 9-7-00) 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 7022 Miami Ave., Madeira. ($$, AC)
BELUGA — Housed in the former Melting Pot, this sushi bar offers á la carte and traditional menus. As a starter, try Edamame, soy bean pods boiled with coarse salt. Move into the main dishes (from either menu) with the Spider Pall, pieces of soft-shell crab centered inside with seaweed and a mildly tangy sauce, or the Sushi Regular, several varieties of sushi served with a California roll and soup. The Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura Combination also includes soup and a roll. Winner of "Best Sushi." (LM, 9-14-00) Lunch: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; Dinner: 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 3520 Edwards Road, Hyde Park. 513-533-4444. ($$$-$$$$, AC)
BRAVO! — Despite its size, this Italian restaurant offers wine and food reminiscent of a small trattoria. Bruschetta Pomodoro (peasant toast with garlic butter, artichoke hearts, shrimp, grape tomatoes, basil and Parmesan) is a flavorful antipasta. Although pizzas and grilled meats are served for entrées, try Chicken Scallopini Romano or Cappellini Pomodoro. Desserts, such as Chocolate Truffle Cake and Zabaione Fragole, accompanied by cappuccino or espresso complete the fantasy. (LM, 8-17-00) 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 12110 Montgomery Road, Symmes Twp. 513-583-0583. ($$-$$$, SC)
BUCA DI BEPPO — Situated in the new shopping center, the restaurant is the definition of tacky and eclectic. The selections are served family style and can easily feed a party of four with leftovers. As an antipasti, Calamari sets the tone for the rest of the meal. One of the specials is Lasagna, nine levels of light pasta with airy ricotta and lively meat marinara. The Veal Limone is served with white beans and escarole. Pace yourself carefully to leave room for the Bread Pudding, layered with cinnamon, raisins, milk and chocolate chips. Winner of "Best New Restaurant." (LM, 12-7-00) 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Rookwood Commons, Norwood. 513-396-7673. ($$, AC)
CHESTER'S ROAD HOUSE — Neighbors, tourists, corporate mavens and prom dates have dined at this classic, yet constantly modified restaurant. The Black Bean Soup, Char-Grilled Vegetarian Quesadilla or the Spicy Steamed Prince Edward Island Mussels are a great way to whet the appetite. The entrées, such as Chili-Lime Marinated Chicken Breast, Roast Prime Rib of Beef Au Jus and Roasted Marinated Lamb Loin, are intriguing and delicious. Peanut Butter Pie or Peach Crisp assure any diner that they will return soon. (LM 6-22-00) Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Dinner: 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5-10:30 p.m. Friday; 5-11 p.m. Saturday; 5-9 p.m. Sunday. 9678 Montgomery Road, Montgomery. 513-793-8700. ($$-$$$$, AC)
DEWEY'S PIZZA — This is the place for a more esoteric, unique pizza experience. The House Salad isn't typical; it's made up of mixed greens, goat cheese, cranberries and a basalmic vinaigrette dressing. Pies consist of make-your-own and specialties. One to try is the Green Lantern, with a red sauce, garlic cloves, mozzarella, mushrooms, goat cheese, pesto and artichokes. A selection of wines and microbrews is available. Desserts include Key Lime Pie and Opera Cream Torte. Winner of "Best Pizza." 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. 3014 Madison Road, Oakley. 513-731-7755. ($$-$$$, SC, LC)
FIRST WATCH — The area's first name in breakfast and brunch. Try the giant-size Blueberry Pancakes with blueberry syrup. Crêpes, omelets, salads and sandwiches also fill the menu. Some lunch highlights include the Cobb Salad with house dressing, the Grilled Chicken Breast Sandwich, the Reuben and the Chicken Quesadilla. It also offers a smoke-free environment. Winner of "Best Breakfast" and "Best Brunch." 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m. daily. 8118 Montgomery Road, Madeira. 513-891-0088. 2692 Madison Road, Norwood. 513-531-7430. Seventh and Walnut streets, Downtown. 513-721-4744. Harper's Point, Symmes Twp. 513-489-6849. ($, AP)
GERMANO'S — Dinner at Germano's provides plenty of romance and classic Italian dining for an unforgettable evening. Nice selection of antipasti, including the Mozzarella Caprese with Roma tomatoes, fresh Mozzarella, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, muffaletta and bread. The menu is fairly simple, with three or four choices each of pasta, pollo (chicken), vitello (veal), pesce (seafood) and manzo (beef). The pleasing Pollo A La Bolognese is very moist and tender, rolled in bread crumbs and baked. The desserts, such as Tiramisu and Chocolate Bomb, are too much to finish, but worth the extra calories. (AM, 2-3-00) Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday. Dinner: 5:30-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5:30-10 p.m. Friday; 5-10 p.m. Saturday. 9415 Montgomery Road, Montgomery. 513-794-1155. ($$$-$$$$, AC)
j. Alexander's — This national chain is known for its hearty American fare- no puny appetites allowed here. Start things off with the Mexico City Spinach Con Queso, a gooey melted cheese dip with flecks of spinach, served with warm, salty tortilla chips. It's tasty and good for sharing. Known for its beef, the Aged Prime Rib is the house specialty. Top things off with the White Chocolate Cheesecake. (AM, 2-1-01) 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday. 2629 Edmondson Road, Rookwood Commons, Norwood. 513-531-7495. ($$$, SC)
J'S FRESH SEAFOOD —An inviting classic, which continues to set the standard in local seafood. The Sweet Onion Soup with Boiled Cheese Crust, Crispy Fresh Calamari with Thai-Hot-Sweet-Chili Sauce and Crab Cakes with Red Pepper Mustard Sauce are tempting starters. Don't fill up before the entrées. Swordfish Steak, Crab Meat Fettuccini Alfredo and Tilapia in Parchment with Mild Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Leeks spoil eating seafood anywhere else. Winner of "Best Seafood." (AM, 10-19-00) Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. Dinner: 5:30-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 5:30-11 p.m. Friday; 5-11 p.m. Saturday; 5-10 p.m. Sunday. 2444 Madison Road, Hyde Park. 513-871-2888. ($$$-$$$$, AC)
Latin quarter — An eclectic menu and delicious dishes are what you'll find at longtime Cincinnati restaurant scene veteran Elliott Jablonsky's new place, located in the spot of the former Bistro Gigi on Mariemont Square. The powerful margaritas go down smoothly, and are perfect with the Pan Fried Caribe Cheese appetizer, an interesting variation on a popular bar appetizer: fried cheese. A delicious entree choice is the Orecchiette, a dish of saucer-shaped pasta topped with green peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, smoked jalapeno sauce and fresh feta cheese. A flavorful dessert choice is the Grand Marnier Creme Caramel. (AM, 3-1-01) 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5 p.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday. 6904 Wooster Pike, Mariemont. 513-271-5400. ($$-$$$, SC)
MILLIONS CAFÉ — Recently refurbished kitchen serves a simple, but satisfying, menu. The "house speciality" is the Fried Pickle appetizer, but a traditional Combo Basket is also available. The rest of the menu features house salads, Veggie Burgers, Black Bean Burgers and X-treme Burgers. (AM, 9-21-00) 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday. 3212 Linwood Ave., Mount Lookout. 513-871-1148. ($-$$, SC)
NATIONAL EXEMPLAR RESTAURANT — Perfect combination of old and new, breakfast, lunch and dinner. The breakfast and lunch menu are identical to First Watch, with Fresh Fruit Crepes or the Pope John (polish sausage, topped with mustard, onions and Swiss cheese, two eggs, English muffin and potatoes). For dinner, try the Veal Suzannne, which is pounded flat and dredged in an herbal crepe batter then sauteed with wild mushroom sauce and served over linguine. Or opt for the Calves' Liver or the Blackened Halibut Filet. Skip dessert and head to the Exemplar's bar, Sotherby's, for a nightcap. (AM, 5-25-00) Breakfast/Lunch: 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Sunday. Dinner: 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 5-9 p.m. Sunday. 6880 Wooster Pike, Mariemont. 513-271-2103. ($$-$$$, AC)
PACIFIC MOON CAFE — This eclectic mainstay in Montgomery focuses on satisfying your soul with intriguing, multi-cultural starters and entrees. Laub Gai, finely minced chicked tossed with lemon grass and mild spices, is served with a plate of greens. The Hot and Sour Soup offers dark, rich chicken broth swirled with egg threads and filled with carrots and green onions. The Siam Steamed Pike, with a light citrus glaze, or the Sesame Pork Loin, with lettuce and a dark, sweet sauce, are good choices for the main course. (AM, 11-9-00) 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; closed Monday. 8300 Market Place Lane, Montgomery. 513-891-0091. ($$-$$$$, AC)
PARKERS BLUE ASH GRILL — Operated by Select Restaurants, Parkers is lighter, brighter and feels a bit more bustling than its former incarnation, James Tavern. The menu offers a wide array of steaks, chops, barbecue, fish and chicken. The Regular Cut Prime Rib is a thick, manly slab of tender beef served with horseradish. The dessert options are not vast, but tempting. The Hot Pecan Brownie is perfect to split with only minor amounts of guilt. (LM, 5-17-01) Lunch; 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; Dinner: 4-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 4-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 4-9 p.m. Sunday. 4200 Cooper Road, Blue Ash. 513-891-8300. ($$-$$$, SC)
P.F Chang's China bistro — This Arizona-based national chain offers an unusual array of spicy Chinese dishes, such as Spicy Chicken Enclosed in Lettuce Wrap and Kung Pao Scallops. Don't be scared off by the two mammoth horse sculptures out front, the food here is generously portioned and diverse. Winner of "Best Chinese." (JG, 4-19-01) 11 a.m.-12:00 a.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday. 513-531-4567. ($$$, AC)
The Precinct — Purveyors of fine beef for 20 years now, Jeff Ruby's upscale steak house is for those with a hearty, if conservative appetite. With choices like Steak Warrick, The Oscar Robertson, and Tournedos Munoz, we know were Jeff's interests lie. Count on good service, a crowded yet laid back atmosphere and of course, great steaks. Winner of "Best Steaks." (JG, 4-19-01) 5-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; 5-11 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. 311 Delta Ave., Columbia-Tusculum, 513-321-5454. ($$$$, SC)
Salem gardens — Features a simple, inexpensive menu that is appealing to the whole family. A must is their famous Chicken Wings, which are among the best in the city. (AM, 1-25-01) 11 a.m.-2:30 a.m. Monday-Saturday; noon-midnight Sunday. 6396 Salem Rd., Anderson Twp. 513-231-9666. ($, SC)
Sushi Ray — This hip sushi spot on Mount Lookout Square serves barbecued eel, cucumber with smoked salmon, crab and cream cheese with avocado and more. You must try the Sumo Maki, a jumbo roll of tuna, yellowtail, salmon, avocado and caviar. (LM, 6-1-00) 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 1018 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout. 513-533-9218. ($$$, AC)
TELLER'S — Former Hyde Park Savings & Loan offers more than 30 draught beers, including Woody's Wheat and other brewed at Jump Cafe. The list of salads, appetizers, and entrées are extensive. First, try the Teller's House Salad or the Grilled Portabella and Shaved Parmesan, then sample the Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna or Mediterranen Mussels. Move into the main course with the Sesame Crusted Chilean Sea Bass or Bun Bo Hue (an Asian-influenced dish of veggies with shrimp or beef). Also offers a lengthy list of pizzas, including Barbecue Chicken, Portabella and the Milano. (AM, 11-2-00) 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. 2710 Erie Ave., Hyde Park. 513-321-4721. ($$$, AC)
THROUGH THE GARDEN — Although a little off the beaten track in Blue Ash, this eatery offers a fresh and varied menu. For starters, try the Chicken Tortilla Soup or the house salad. Then savour one of the evening specials, such as the Louisiana Barbecued Chicken, or stick with the restaurant's speciality, Ultimate Stir Fry. The homemade apple pie, warmed in the oven, not the microwave, is a must for dessert. (AM, 6-15-00) 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; closed Sunday. 10738 Kenwood Road, Blue Ash. 513-791-2199. ($$-$$$, SC)
ZIP'S CAFE — Stop by this neighborhood haunt to watch the beloved Zip train go around the Mount Lookout wall mural. Then stay to enjoy the traditional Zip Burger. It's still as perfect as ever, with all the fixings and condiments on the side, served with famous Shoestring French Fries. For hearty eaters, try the Girth Burger that's topped with a grilled mettwurst. Soups and salads are also offered. For dessert there are Snickers ice cream bars. Winner of "Best Burgers." 10:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday. 1036 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout. 513-871-9876. ($, SC)Takeout & Specialty Shops THE BONBONERIE — Whether you want a small treat for yourself or a larger one for a special occasion, this pastry shop has it all. Miniature pastries include Caramel Walnut Bars, Lemon Kissed Cupcakes, Paris Cherry Squares, Black Bottom Cupcakes, Cappuccino Cookies and Swedish Crunchies. Larger items include the Apple Bavarian Cheesecake, the Tangerine Moon buttercake, the Chocolate Mousse Yule Log and their classic Opera Cream Torte. Pastry trays are also available. Winner of "Best Desserts." 7:45 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday. 2030 Madison Road (behind The Brick Yard), O'Bryonville. 513-321-3399; 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Main Branch Library, 800 Vine St., Downtown. 513-665-3339. (CA, SC)
Graeter's Ice Cream — A perfect way to combat the oppressive Cincinnati humidity, Graeter's wide array of rich-tasting flavors remain a local favorite. They feature an Ice Cream of the Month and also provide specialized candy and cakes. And for those out-of-town lovers, they'll even ship the cream anywhere in the continental United States. Winner of "Best Ice Cream." (JG, 4-19-01) Multiple Locations. ($, SC)
party source — Everything you need for a party, including 400 kinds of beer and over 1000 varieties of liquor. Winner of "Best Beer Selection" and "Best Liquor Store." 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 1-6 p.m. Sunday. 95 Riviera Drive, Bellevue. 859-291-4007. (SC)
SMOOTHIE KING — Stop by for a healthy treat alternative. Smoothies of all sorts can be made from the shop's wide variety of ingredients. Also available is a selection of vitamins, minerals, herbs and sports products. Winner of "Best Smoothie." 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. Hyde Park Plaza, Paxton Avenue, Hyde Park. 513-321-3024. (SC, CA)
Thai express — Service with a smile complements customers' favorite dishes, such as Pad Thai, ginger stir fry, black pepper garlic and sweet chili paste. Winner of "Best Takeout." 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 213 W. McMillan, Clifton Heights. 513-651-9000. ($, CO)