Cincinnati’s Best Culinary Secret is 105-Years-Old

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The Queen City is in a bit of a renaissance right now, with many fabulous restaurants opening up all over town. So many great spots have debuted in the last three years that it is hard to keep up.

But that doesn’t mean the old isn’t great, too.

We recently dined at Scotti’s Italian, a small restaurant on Vine Street with a century of history in the city. We left asking, “Why haven’t we done this before?”

Places like this don’t come around every day. Immediately upon walking in, it is easy to feel transported to Italy. The charming décor features olive oil bottles across the ceiling, a hodgepodge of tile on the walls, low lighting, wine bottle candlelight, unique family artwork, and small tables that promote intimate dining.

The food is even better, and the menu might have the largest selection of pasta, veal, and Italian favorites in the city. I ordered mozzarella pasta, while my husband tried the breaded and stuffed loin of veal ala Guido. Both of our dishes came with minestrone soup, bread, and house salad. Our group also tired the spumoni for desert.

We’ll be back. You should go, too!

Sweet, Savory, and Sophistocated at Maplewood Kitchen and Bar

Last week, downtown Cincinnati got a new offering for the breakfast and lunch crowd. Maplewood Kitchen and Bar officially opened to much anticipation and fanfare.

Located at 5th and Race, the restaurant is uniquely positioned in the middle of a block of prime real estate, right across the street from the downtown Macy’s store. Thunderdome Restaurant Group owns Maplewood, and that rising conglomerate is known around the region for some of the Queen City’s tastiest spots. In case you didn’t know, by the way, Cincinnati is home to a blooming list of fantastic restaurants and bars, and this might well be the time of a culinary Renaissance in the city. Think this is a town only full of Skyline Chili or Greater’s (not that there is anything wrong with that, much love for both)? Think again.

Maplewood Kitchen and Bar is a worthy addition to the dining scene.

The restaurant offers upscale fast-casual, and the spot is more than a deli but less than formal dining. Patrons order at a counter from a selection of sandwiches, salads, breakfast, and brunch staples before taking a seat in the large dining room. Severs then deliver the completed orders a few moments later. Those who want to add some spice to their breakfast or lunch (perhaps making it a three-martini one), can order from a wide selection of alcohol at the bar.

Set against the clean lines, white décor, ferns, and light wood of the décor, the concept works. Maplewood feels crisp, fresh, and cosmopolitan. It helps that the food is great, too, of course.

Time well spent in the heart of downtown Cincinnati.