Culinary Heights

Pacific East owners open new fusion restaurant

Freeman and Susan Ngo, owners of the popular Pacific East restaurant in Coventry Village, have opened a new restaurant in the Cedar Center North shopping plaza in South Euclid, at 13911 Cedar Road.

Named Pacific Grill, the new restaurant is not just another location of the original. It features “Asian fusion” cuisine and, to the best of Susan Ngo’s knowledge, is the first in the region to offer Burmese-inspired dishes such as tea leaf salad, catfish chowder in ginseng broth, and grilled whole red snapper.

“It’s a cross between fast casual and more formal sit-down dining,” Freeman Ngo said. “I started with the vision that a fast casual restaurant is not just burgers, burritos and fried chicken. It can be healthier, better quality food, cooked to order.”

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Volume 9, Issue 5, Posted 12:59 PM, 04.30.2016

Forest Hill Kitchen hosts pop-up events in former Rockefeller's

Chef John Bausone and partner Meghan Guthrie had a vision for creating a unique events-based dining experience in a distinctive setting. That vision became a reality in fall 2015 when the co-owners opened Forest Hill Kitchen & Ballroom, in the space formerly occupied by Rockefeller’s restaurant, and before that Cleveland Trust, then Key Bank, in the historic Heights Rockefeller Building on Mayfield Road.

The duo admired the former banking hall’s character, which provides an open and historic venue for both private and public events.

Bausone, a Cleveland native, has worked in the culinary industry since he was a teenager. He attended culinary school in Portland, Ore., and later worked at the famous Biltmore Estate in North Carolina before returning to Cleveland to serve as executive chef at Grovewood Tavern. Cleveland Scene magazine bestowed the honor of Best Brunch on Bausone in 2012 and 2013.

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Volume 9, Issue 3, Posted 10:41 AM, 03.01.2016

City Fresh CSA comes to Coventry

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is building healthy, sustainable communities and, through a program called City Fresh, a new CSA has come to Cleveland Heights. Participants can pick up weekly shares of fresh, local produce every Tuesday this summer, next to the Coventry Village Library. The program began June 9 and will run for 20 weeks.

The City Fresh CSA is part of the New Agrarian Center (NAC), a nonprofit organization that has been at the epicenter of Cleveland's local food revival for the past decade.

The inspiration behind City Fresh was to end food deserts—neighborhoods in Greater Cleveland where there are few or no stores where fresh produce can be found. City Fresh supplies these neighborhoods with fresh produce and offers reduced pricing for families or individuals with limited incomes.

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Volume 8, Issue 7, Posted 11:17 AM, 06.23.2015

Washington Place Bistro brings menu diversity to Little Italy

“Modern American” Restaurant Fills Former Baricelli Inn Space, But Not Shoes 

In my ten years in the Heights, I’ve dined at Little Italy restaurants countless times, but at the Baricelli Inn only once. My lone visit was memorable for both the meal and the bill. In less than two months, however, I’ve twice visited the more-accessible Washington Place Bistro & Inn, which took over the former Baricelli Inn’s digs in November.

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Volume 4, Issue 2, Posted 6:49 PM, 01.22.2011

Heights' Melt to open May 21

The average wait for a gourmet grilled cheese at Melt Bar and Grilled in Lakewood has been nothing compared to the anticipation by Heights residents for the opening of the new East side location. After an 18-month investment by owner Matt Fish, Melt will be making its Cleveland Heights debut on May 21 at the corner of Taylor and Cedar roads.

Marked with larger-than-life, 3D grilled cheese signage designed by Cleveland-based Signature Sign Co., Melt will be the anchor tenant for the 1920s building owned by Geoff Loree, which previously housed by Peabody’s. Loree said four potential tenants will move in next to Melt, ranging from a local clothing boutique to a bakery.

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Volume 3, Issue 5, Posted 6:41 PM, 04.20.2010

Mama Joyce’s serves up chicken and waffles with a smile

If you’ve been missing chicken and waffles in the Heights since Phil the Fire left Shaker Square a few years ago, check out Mama Joyce’s soul food on Lee Road, which offers carry-out comfort food.

The space, located near Anatolia Café, is petite, but the flavors are mighty. Sample chicken, fish and pork dinners in addition to burgers and Polish Boys; and don’t forget a side (or three), including mac 'n’ cheese, yams, greens, cornbread and more.

When a friend and I visited, we were touched by the hospitality of the staff, who shared how excited they are to open a space in Cleveland Heights because of the warm welcome they received from the community.

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Volume 3, Issue 2, Posted 4:47 PM, 01.23.2010

Lopez marks 30 years with dish remixes, deals

In late 1979, when Lopez first opened in Cleveland Heights, owner Craig Sumers said residents had far fewer dining options. Thirty years later, Sumers said Heights residents have “a lot more alternatives within 15 minutes,” including popular dining spots on Coventry, Lee and Shaker Square. Yet, Lopez continues to seduce our palates with fresh menu choices and one of the best patios around. Even the Food Network was smitten with Lopez’s southwestern menu during a late September visit to film for its “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” series.

To mark Lopez’s milestone year, Sumers created monthly promotions, including a text message campaign that alerts diners of new menu choices every Friday and offers up dining discounts like $20 off food purchases. (Text “LOPEZ” to 95495 to sign up).

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Volume 2, Issue 10, Posted 2:21 PM, 09.24.2009

Anatolia Café: Turkish wines to go with great food

The Heights area has many culinary treasures that commit to serving wines, both interesting and out of the ordinary. In that vein, my wife and I visited Anatolia Café, a Turkish restaurant on Lee Road, that features a full bar and a very interesting wine list.
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Volume 2, Issue 9, Posted 11:42 AM, 08.19.2009

Chef Ngo takes Innovative approach to Japanese and Malaysian cuisine

Looking for ocean-fresh sushi and a taste of exotic Malaysia? It’s right here on Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights. Chef/owner Freeman Ngo, spent 13 years in New York as a sushi chef before opening Pacific East. With more than 360 items on the menu, there truly is “something for everyone.”

Winner of the 2008 Silver Spoon Award, Cleveland Magazine’s 2008 Best Japanese Award, and Best of City Search 2008, Pacific East has been serving up fresh, flavorful sushi in Cleveland Heights for more than seven years. Sushi fans across the U.S. would be wise to add this gem of a restaurant to their “things to do” in Cleveland list.
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Volume 2, Issue 8, Posted 10:10 AM, 07.20.2009

Ariyoshi serves up a taste of authentic Japanese eats

In April, I had the good fortune of visiting Japan during hanami season when the lovely cherry blossoms bloomed. Since I returned, I’ve been holding on to those memories ever so tightly, including the wonderful “experience” meals like shabu-shabu and yakitori sampled in cozy restaurants. (Shabu-shabu is like a Japanese version of fondue, but features a large pot of boiling water for cooking thin slices of meats, veggies and udon noodles. Yakitori consists of barbecued skewered meats and veggies on bamboo sticks.) 

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Volume 2, Issue 7, Posted 11:38 AM, 07.07.2009

New Cheese on the Block, Melt adding Heights location for gourmet grilled cheese at Cedar and Taylor

Melt Bar and Grilled owner Matt Fish needed a new challenge after racking up regulars and local and national foodie awards at his Lakewood restaurant. Since opening in September 2006, his gourmet grilled cheese concoctions, with names like The Parmageddon (pierogies) and The Lake Erie Monster (walleye), have packed the restaurant every night, even after two expansions.

“Lakewood exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds,” Fish said. “We have won the ‘Academy Awards’ of Cleveland restaurants, so the natural progression is to translate our West Side success to the East Side. Mindset-wise, I consider Cleveland Heights to be our sister city.”

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Volume 2, Issue 6, Posted 7:49 PM, 05.20.2009

Find good wines at The Grapevine

Writing about wines continues to be a positive experience for me. I am gratified by the reception this column has received, and enjoy profiling wine merchants in the Heights area. 

People are always looking for a good bottle of wine at a reasonable price. One of the best ways to find that bottle is to ask your local wine merchant. On a recent visit to The Grapevine, 12425 Cedar Road, I spoke with owner and wine expert Bob Fishman. I had come to purchase wine to review for this column and to test a strategy for choosing a vintner whose recommendations I could trust.

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Volume 2, Issue 5, Posted 11:42 AM, 04.13.2009

An interview with Laura Taxel, epicure of Cleveland's ethnic eats

With the release of the eighth edition of Cleveland Ethnic Eats this spring, I sat down with Cleveland Heights food writer Laura Taxel to talk about her latest book.

How has Cleveland Ethnic Eats evolved over eight editions? It has been a fascinating journey. When I first wrote Cleveland Ethnic Eats, the subject was considered quaint. Fifteen years later, public interest in ethnic food has exploded.  People are enthusiastic about trying new and exotic things. My neighborhood grocery has a sushi bar!

A special feature of the eighth edition is a Web site and blog. Readers can share their recommendations of ethnic restaurants or markets. If you are the first person to suggest one that I include in the next edition, you will receive a free copy when it is published. My Web site also includes free updates. (

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Volume 2, Issue 5, Posted 2:48 PM, 04.22.2009

Mad Greek continues updates with addition of new chef, menu

A Heights institution since 1977, the Mad Greek Restaurant has been unveiling major facelifts to its dining areas since Chris Chopra, the son of the original owners, and Bill LaRue have been at the helm for the past five years. Now the owners have turned their attention to the kitchen, with the addition of a new chef, Robert Ledzianowski, and a menu that continues the restaurant’s homage to Greek and Indian dishes.

The extensive updates to the restaurant’s interior, including a renovated bar area, were complemented by the arrival of a beautiful outdoor patio last summer. Featuring a cascading waterfall and pergola, the umbrella tables are shielded from passers-by with raised flower beds and a limestone privacy wall.

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Volume 2, Issue 4, Posted 10:19 PM, 04.08.2009

Aeoshi Café: a tasty preview before a Cedar Lee movie

Five-dollar Monday movie nights at the Cedar Lee Theatre are a great time to sample some of Lee Road’s restaurant offerings. During my last two trips to the movies, I arrived early to snag a parking spot and tickets before they became sparse, and met up with a friend at Aeoshi Café next door to grab a bite and pass the time before the movie.
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Volume 2, Issue 2, Posted 5:53 PM, 01.21.2009

Taste: an inventive addition to Lee Road menu

Taste, Lee Road’s newest restaurant addition in Cleveland Heights, has masterfully revamped the former Wine Room space as a swanky bar and dining area that serves fresh French fusion dishes.
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Volume 1, Issue 9, Posted 12:36 AM, 11.22.2008

Annie Chui’s Sun Luck Garden reopens

When it comes to cravings for Chinese cuisine, I admit Hunan Coventry has been my go-to stop in the Heights. But, this summer I heard lots of buzz about Sun Luck Garden’s beloved owner, Annie Chiu, when a Who’s Who list of Cleveland chefs hosted a benefit in her honor since she had to close the restaurant for a few months after emergency open-heart surgery.
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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 9:49 PM, 10.24.2008

Culinary Heights: New Cleveland Heights residents eat their veggies

Lucinda Stevens’ culinary challenge is her husband Carl Goldstein, a vegetarian. Former high school sweethearts back in Flint, Michigan, Carl and Lucinda reconnected in Ann Arbor 20 years ago, married and moved to Cleveland Heights a year-and-a-half ago. “When I first visited Cleveland Heights, I immediately fell in love with the urban character, friendly people, small businesses, landscaping and cultural offerings. Ann Arbor was getting too pretentious,” says Stevens.
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Volume 1, Issue 2, Posted 3:13 PM, 04.28.2008