After 10 years of helping "steer the big ship" that is Carrie Cerino's Ristorante (8922 Ridge Road, 440-237-3434), partner Dominic Cerino is shipping out. With his retirement, brother and co-owner Carmen Cerino assumes full control.
"Frankly, I'm just tired," says the 51-year-old chef, part of the third generation to run the family-owned landmark in North Royalton. "I want to ride my motorcycle, plant a garden, and do all that boring stuff."
Launched by family matriarch Carrie Cerino in 1963, the 30,000-square-foot restaurant and party center is a behemoth, with a staff of 120 and a devoted clientele. Dom and Carmen bought the biz in 1998 and have been slowly tweaking the classic Italian menu ever since, adding such contemporary offerings as organic salmon, locally produced blue eggs, and Berkshire "heritage" pork.
Longtime sous chef Mike Lipnos has taken over the kitchen, and there are plans to expand the restaurant's "light" weekday menu of smaller portions at small prices.
A steadfast supporter of the "slow foods" movement, Dom is not ruling out an eventual return to the kitchen. "I could see myself in a smaller place," he muses. "It would be great to get my hands back in the pot."
Go, fish: 'Tis the season for even gourmets to start craving an occasional meatless Friday. But don't limit yourself to church-basement fish fries. Instead, head to the casually elegant Baricelli Inn (2203 Cornell Road in Little Italy), where chef-owner Paul Minnillo is offering a whale of a Lenten meal deal: a three-course fish dinner for just $22. This Friday, the prix fixe fixin's include a choice of New England clam chowder, lentil soup, or a salad; rainbow trout, Tasmanian salmon, or shrimp and artichoke fettuccine; and crème caramel or a trio of sorbets. The deal runs from 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. each Friday through March 21; call 216-791-6500 for reservations.
Pancakes coming: The region's second Original Pancake House location is set to open on Monday, February 18, in Fairview Park (3000 Westgate, in the new Westgate Mall; 440-333-5515). — Cicora