When you visit Magic Tree, you have to order it one way or another. Somethng, anything, Pretzel. All of the pretzel items are made fresh, in-house daily. Whether it's a pretzel Sandwich bun, pretzel bites or the big, the famous, Twisted Time,one-pound, Pretzel. It's served on a pizza platter and yes, it's that big PLUS you get to choose three of their ten specialty sauces for dipping. I had the Beer Cheese, Maple Dijon Mustard and the Cinnamon, Sugar & Butter. First of all, this pretzel is so good just by itself. I took part of it home and my son-in-law said he's coming just for the pretzels. Each sauce has it's own distinct flavor. The Beer Cheese is creamy with bits of bacon, the Maple Dijon Mustard is a combination of nice grainy mustards with a touch of sweetness and the Cinnamon Sugar Butter, well, what can I say. It has that yummy sweetness salty combination with the pretzel that everyone craves.
All I can say about Magic Tree is the menu is the magic. It has something for everyone and everything has a quirky uniqueness that will keep you coming back for more.
It's quiet on the outside and fun on the inside. Bogey's Bar and Grille in Lowellville serves up tasty Youngstown classics at an off-the-beaten-path location. Bobby DeVicchio and Carmen Lofaro opened up shop in 2010 and haven't slowed down since. If you were born and raised in Youngstown, you may remember DeVicchio as the owner of Bobby D's on the South Side. He sold Bobby D's and went into retirement for short time, but decided it was time to get back in business. They've recently brought in a new partner who also happens to be the chef; Mel McKee. The menu still features favorites from Bobby D's like Penne Calabrese and Manhattan Chicken, but the new additions, thanks to Mel, have taken the food to a whole new level.
Choosing your entree may be the most difficult thing you do at Bogey's. Mel's sauce in amazing and goes with everything from cavatelli and spaghetti to eggplant and chicken parm.
Edmonds is a dream come true for local contractor, Ed Thomas. Always wanting to own a restaurant, and in honor of his father, the dream and the memory is here at Edmonds in Lowellville. It's located right before the PA line on Route 422. It's a small diner type restaurant with several tables and a counter. It's casual, comfortable, spotlessly clean and the staff is very friendly. I get the feeling on your first visit you'll be treated well, on your second, they'll remember you were there before and on your third, you're now family. The kitchen is run by two amazing chefs, John and James, who each bring their own unique style, technique and recipes to Edmonds. Thomas tells me it's "comfort food. Wholesome. Fresh. All at a moderate price." He believes in "promoting the local concept". All the bread products are from The Bread Chef, the sausage is locally made, and only uses Angus beef. "Everything done from scratch." It's comfort food at its finest.
My new, favorite, must-order only at Edmonds, the sinfully good, Chicken and Waffles. A plate sized thick waffle dotted with bits of bacon, golden brown and cut in quarters. Stacked proudly with three jumbo, crunchy, deep fried chicken tenders all drizzled with sweet maple syrup. Never had it before, had no clue what I was in for. One bite. One crunchy, sweet, salty, to die for bite and my jaw literally dropped. Where has this been all my life? The chicken is moist under that thick crunchy breading with a hint of saltiness. The waffle is light as air, sweet from the batter, a salty bite from the bacon and the warm maple syrup over the top takes this dish over the top. I actually woke up the next day and the first thing I thought of was Chicken and Waffles. What have they done to me?
The minute you walk into Salvatore's in Austintown, there will be no doubt in your mind that you're in an Italian restaurant. The smell of fresh sauce permeates the air awakening all your senses.
Every meal starts with a basket of homemade rolls and pizza bread. The round rolls are warm and soft and the pizza bread is a square of thick dough topped with pizza sauce and a sprinkle of romano cheese. It's delicious and very addictive.
Penne Alla Vodka has been a favorite dish of mine for a long time and I've now found the place that serves it well. A big bowl of penne pasta with sauce in every bite and more for dipping. A light tomato cream sauce with bits of prosciutto and onion and of course vodka. I love penne pasta because it's easy to eat. I stick my fork in the open end of the perfect al dente pasta, sometimes picking two at a time, enjoying every bite of this dish. At Salvatore's the sauce is made in one pan and then the pasta is added and sautéed together so each one of the pasta tubes gets not only coated with sauce but filled full as well. Another similar dish I tried was the Cavatelli Portobello. Wonderful, homemade cavatelli, sautéed portobello mushrooms, broccoli, chicken and shrimp in a blush cream vodka sauce. Same great flavors as the Penne but with the added extras that take this dish above and beyond.
If you're tired of the same old Mexican food, you've got to go to Plaza Azteca. When your food is brought to the table you'll think it's too pretty to eat but don't let that stop you. You're about to eat Mexican food like you've never tasted before.
The portions are large and the food is delicious and fresh. The menu has pictures of many of the dishes that will tempt you and I can tell you the pictures are what you will get. These are not stock photos, they're the real thing. I get the feeling that no matter what you order, the dish will be elegant, fresh, beautiful and delicious. First Class all the way. Plaza Azteca takes Mexican food to a whole new level.
Try the delicious Spinach & Chicken Enchiladas. This just may be the prettiest dish I've ever been served in a Mexican restaurant. Vibrant colors, wonderful aroma and after one bite I learned this is much more than just a pretty dish. It almost looks like a layered lasagna because of the way the chef puts this dish together. Corn tortillas are stuffed with grilled chicken and sautéed spinach then covered in a green, roasted poblano sauce. Jaime tells me there are over 20 sauces and this one is absolutely delicious. Add a little queso fresco, drizzles of sour cream and thin slices of roasted red and green poblano peppers to add more color. Surrounded by sliced radishes, oranges and sprigs of cilantro with a side of rice, you won't find this dish anywhere else and it turned out to be my favorite of the day. The sauce, again, is so different and flavorful. It, along with the poblano peppers, make this dish special. Love this one.
You may think the best part of my job is the food. I thought that in the beginning, but after today, I realize the best part of my job is meeting wonderful people like the Raptis family.
I walked into this Boardman landmark and kind of took a step back in time. It reminds me of an old school diner, the kind that serve breakfast all day and everybody knows everybody. There's a long counter to sit at, tables and booths and a party room that holds up to fifty for any occasion.
I was welcomed by owner, Phil Raptis who then introduced me to his son Eli. Phil has owned Yankee Kitchen for over 29 years. The two sat and chatted with me as his other son David and mother-in-law chimed in with approval as we talked about the patrons and the food. Raptis is from Greece and brings bits of the Greek kitchen to the menu which surprised me because I thought Yankee Kitchen was a breakfast place and nothing more. I was so wrong. Mind you, the menu does have great breakfast choices, but also has "the best burgers in town", Phil promises me, and several dinner choices that include salad, potato, rolls and butter, a cup of soup and a ice cream all for $7.99. Everything from Country Fried Steak to Eggplant Parm and on Fridays they serve an amazing Fried Fish dinner as well. We talked more about Greece, people we both knew and about wonderful Greek dishes I've had in the past. Now knowing that I love Greek food, it wasn't long before out came a Gyro and fresh cut fries. I love gyros but this is my first to review and I was not disappointed. A fresh pita wrapped around thick slices of gyro meat topped with chopped fresh tomato and onion and the perfect amount of tzatziki sauce. My first bite got a bit of everything. The meat is delicious and the sauce was amazing. A gyro isn't complete without the tzatziki. The mellow cucumber sauce with a hint of garlic is the perfect contrast to this packed with flavor sandwich. The fries were hot and I couldn't stop eating them. Fresh cut with the peels fried up crisp along the gyro, this is one meal I'll be back for.
Still in the same location, still run by the Marino family and still serving good food. I was welcomed by Anna Marino, matriarch of the Marino family. She's like your next door neighbor that always has something to talk about and always wants to feed you. I liked her the minute we met.
It wasn't long before three amazing dishes were presented to me. First to try, the Ravioli. A giant, hand-shaped ravioli on a beautiful pink sauce. The pasta is filled with a delicious ricotta and spinach filling. The dough itself, is light and not too thick. And the sauce, a pink vodka sauce, is bursting with flavor. It's a little spicy, cheesy, garlicky, all the good things you want in a sauce and more. It's nice and thick and sticks to every bite of that light pillowy pasta. In between bites, I grabbed one of Anna's famous rolls. Big soft rolls are sliced through the top to create three "slices". In between each is a pad of butter that just oozes out of the warm bread.I had a flashback of my childhood when my mom would buy this loaf of frozen French bread and put a chunk of butter in between each slice and bake it. The oozing butter was there in Anna's rolls but the taste took it to another level. Light and airy and butter. Yum. I dipped in that vodka sauce and I was sold.
When I walked into Hubbard's only Mexican Restaurant I was greeted warmly by Chuey Segoveno. The restaurant matches Chuey's smile. It's bright, happy and you get the immediate feeling that you're going to really like this place. Mi Ranchitos. The translation according to Chuey, "my little town". It's perfect.
I first asked to try the salsa and chips. With every Mexican restaurant, it's customary to get a basket of warm chips and fresh salsa and of course you have to have a cold margarita. Chuey went above and beyond this customary welcome. I got my warm chips and salsa, but also a dish of fresh Pico de Gallo, warm cheese dip, yummy Guacamole and Queso Fundido. Where do I dip first? The salsa is not too thin, not too thick. A good base sauce dotted with chopped tomato, onion, cilantro and a medium touch of heat. The pico is excellent. Fresh tomato, onion, pepper with lots of cilantro, I love this on everything. The cheese dip alone was delicious but the Queso Fundido was beyond delicious. Chorizo sausage cooked semi-crisp is a bowl of gooey, mild queso surrounded by more chips. Love, love, love this. I kept dipping, double dipping, even triple dipping, in between my margarita sipping, of course. Going from guac (which, by the way, was awesome) to pico, pico to cheese, margarita to salsa, I was in chip-dip heaven. I could've stopped right there and left full and happy but Chuey had so much more to tempt me with and I'm not one to disappoint.
I love surprises and I really love them when the surprise turns out to be so much more than I expected. I had one of those, the moment I walked into Mojo's in Austintown. I'm not sure why, but I thought Mojo's was a bar that maybe served some good bar food. I was so wrong. Mojo's is an awesome restaurant that just happens to serve great food, amazing drinks and homemade cheesecake. There are several high back booths, tables and a bar area with a few additional tables. I was warmly welcomed by owner John Marino and his girlfriend Tammy. John is the genius behind the recipes and even more genius because he has teamed up with Tammy who happens to bake a to-die-for cheesecake and is also the "house mixologist".
John opened Mojo's in the current location about 2 years ago. It has a Classic Rock vibe, 60's and 70's, with the walls covered in artwork to match. You'll see music posters from Zappa to Zeppelin, The Beatles to The Doors. Ah, The Doors. John smiles, "I'm a big Jim Morrison/Doors fan. That's where the name Mojo's came from. Mojo Risin'." He's referring to the classic Doors hit, "L.A. Woman".
There aren't many restaurants that serve walleye so I decided to start there. A pan-fried walleye filet resting on a bed of sautéed spinach and grape tomatoes in a light butter, wine sauce. Just one bite and I was sold. Absolutely phenomenal. This is the most delicious fish dish I have ever eaten. The fish is so light and fresh, cooked to perfection. The spinach is well seasoned and the sauce takes this dish over the top. If you're not a fan of fish you've got to give it one more try with Mojo's walleye. This one has found a way into the number one position on my list.
Great food is closer than you think.
A good choice at Shale Tavern & Grille is the Tavern Beef with Smashed Redskin Potatoes. The minute Valerie placed this dish in front of me my eyes lit up as I looked up at her. "Like it's been cooking all day", she said. That's exactly what it was. If your grandma ever made beef stew that you loved, well, grandma, there's a new stew in town. The beef is so tender you can't keep it on your fork, baby carrots, onion and celery all cooked in a delicious, yet simple, au jus. There is so much flavor packed into this dish, it's absolutely melt-in-your-mouth amazing. It's served up with a generous portion of smashed redskin potatoes and a side salad. You won't go home hungry after eating this dish, if you can actually finish it.