Cleveland Heights is a great alternative for those looking for high-quality restaurants away from the Downtown Cleveland crowds. Although most restaurants offer variations on all-American cuisine, Clevelanders can also find top Italian food here. We list 10 of the best spots to try.
Located in a re-purposed 150 year-old building on Murray Hill, Mia Bella is a popular spot in Little Italy. The space offers simple table seating with rustic exposed brick and hand-painted Tuscan frescoes on the far wall. Mia Bella infuses traditional Italian cuisine with Mediterranean flare, with must-try dishes that include the Saganaki (a Greek dish) starter with blackened shrimp dusted with Italian seasoning. This spot has outdoor patio seating, a full bar with an extensive wine list, and a wide array of gluten-free options.
A Cleveland institution, Presti’s Bakery on Mayfield Road is the place for great Italian delicacies and dishes, from sweet pastries to pastas. This is a tiny, take-a-number-service place that draws crowds day in and day out, especially during the annual Feast of the Assumption festival, which runs in mid-August throughout Little Italy. Presti’s has a catch-all Italian menu including espresso and pastries for breakfast, soups, salads, stromboli, and so much more. Be sure to get there early to beat the rush.
Valerio’s is small and unassuming spot for authentic Italian food, specializing in Northern Italian and Tuscan dishes. The candle-lit table seating is surrounded by wooden wine racks, burnt sienna walls, and framed vintage posters. Valerio’s is a place to delight in classic Italian dishes such as carpaccioor Penne alla Puttanesca, which are prepared beautifully, and to enjoy the company of welcoming and attentive staff.
Although Valentino’s has competition, it still manages to stand out as the best pizzeria in Little Italy. This small family owned business offers superior pizza, sandwiches, salads, and various Italian entrees at staggeringly low prices. Take-away and delivery options are available, and the outdoor patio is open during the summer season. Build your own pizza with a myriad toppings to choose from or ask for a recommendation from the staff, who will never lead you astray.
Award-winning chef Michael Annandano is at the helm at Michelangelo’s, a modern fine-dining restaurant in the heart of Little Italy. The entire space is bright and unfailingly refreshing, especially during the summer months when the interior dining room is left open via a set of French doors to the outdoor patio. Annandano shows off his culinary training in Piedmont when crafting his menu, which has a distinct Tuscan element. There is a plethora of options to choose from, including hot and cold antipasti; the kobe beef carpaccio and escargots alla Piemonteseare worth a try.
Angelo’s Nido Italia on Mayfair Road is a kitschy Italian dream, complete with classical statuettes, mounted busts, and a full-size wall fresco depicting a garden scene. The outdoor patio is more modern, with table and booth seating, stringed paper lanterns, and a full bar. But importantly the menu is unfailingly delicious, offering old-fashioned Italian staples like Clams Casino and Veal Parmigiano cooked to perfection.
The Trattoria on the Hill is a small, Sicilian-influenced restaurant. The interior is simple and inviting with old-fashioned checkered floors and painted brick walls and the menu is selective; it offers a handful of classic Italian dishes and house specialties, all executed perfectly. The patio is open during the summer months and the full bar includes wine, cocktails, and imported beers.
In the heart of Little Italy, Maxi’s Bistro is an open-air restaurant with an extensive menu. Maxi’s consists of two stories with indoor seating, a main bar, and a garden patio overlooking Little Italy. Although the menu has many things to offer, the signature house pizzas are particularly exceptional. Happy hour at Maxi’s includes fantastic deals on food and drink, such as $3 beers and $10 pizzas of any size, Monday through Thursday from 3pm to 6.30pm.