Sometimes, the best little eateries are the ones that fly just below the radar, beloved by a crew of regulars, but pretty much invisible to the rest of us. That's certainly the case with Lakewood's Tina's Deli, a neat-as-a-pin delicatessen at 13411 Detroit Avenue. We've probably passed the place a hundred times since it opened in 1996, but we never noticed it until last week, when a devotee pointed it out.
Our informant described Tina's as "a modest little linoleum-and-fluorescent-light kind of place," with a cashier, deli counter, and 11 tables shoehorned into a space about the size of your average McMansion's walk-in closet. But despite the heads-up, we weren't entirely prepared for the remarkably good deli fare -- everything from early morning oatmeal to late-afternoon gyros and corned-beef sandwiches -- and the sincerely friendly service.
Owners George and Georgette Abdallah, along with daughters Tina and Barbara and son George Jr., run the operation, doing everything from roasting eggplant for the tongue-tingling baba ghanoush -- with all the smoky flavors of a backyard BBQ, plus garlic and lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice -- to choosing the lean, sheer-sliced meats for sandwiches like the towering Reuben, the astonishingly overstuffed New Yorker, and the hearty Manhattan Roast Beef. And talk about a welcoming vibe! You can fairly taste the motherly pride in Georgette's homemade potato salad, coleslaw, and hummus; George just might slip an extra piece of crunchy baklava into your to-go bag; and don't be surprised if Tina comes charging out into the parking lot, Styrofoam boxes in hand, if you absent-mindedly leave your leftovers -- and you will have leftovers -- behind.
Tina's Deli is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday; for carryout orders, call 216-228-8269.
On the move . . . June 13 is moving day for Rocky River's Saucy Bistro, which is relocating to more spacious digs at 24481 Detroit Road in Westlake. Executive Chef Sarah Sherepita says the new location, formerly home to Bistro du Beaujolais, has had a thorough makeover, including the addition of a handsome stone-and-iron patio with seating for up to 70 diners; the bistro should be settled into its new home by June 25 . . . Look for a 120-seat outpost of Ohio City's Johnny Mango's World Café and Juice Bar to open this fall in Willoughby, at 4113 Erie Street, in space formerly occupied by the 1899 Grille . . . Hyde Park Restaurant Systems' Sal & Angelo's (1825 Coventry Road) has closed; the company plans to lease the space to chef and former employee Patrick McNamara for an independent restaurant.