No matter how hot it gets, a garden table at the Baricelli Inn (2203 Cornell Road, 216-791-6500) has got to be the coolest summer dining spot in Cleveland. While Paul Minnillo's award-winning restaurant is widely recognized for its sophisticated and expensive year-round menu, the garden's bistro-style offerings include petite portions of exquisitely prepared, robustly flavored, and tremendously satisfying dishes, at prices that hover in the $9 to $15 range. The shaded brick patio is charming, surrounded by arborvitae, fragrant herbs, and blooming flowers, and a rustic alfresco meal here begins with crusty French bread, herbed butter, and a stoneware bowl filled with an addictive assortment of marinated olives. Then comes a complimentary platter of gauze-like prosciutto and mortadela, which, if you are wise, you will follow with a selection of hearty, imported artisanal cheeses ($10.95 for three ample wedges), served -- at least on one night -- with fresh figs, dried and fresh apricots, red grapes, fat cherries, preserved quince, and toasted nuts. Then dig into the intensely flavorful marinated flank steak ($12.95), with caramelized Vidalia onion and crisp fried potatoes just right for soaking up the profoundly seasoned pan juices. Or perhaps choose the slippery lemon-pepper linguine ($12.95), topped with sweet baby clams, in a rich white wine and butter sauce. For the finishing touch, a warm fig tart sided with Armagnac ice cream and an assortment of fresh berries ($9.50) is perfect. The all-inclusive total for this flawless meal for two, along with two glasses of wine? An entirely reasonable $86. (If you prefer to enjoy an entire bottle, figure on at least another $20 to $30.) These long summer nights will soon be just a memory, so get thee to the garden while you can.
Lucky us . . . Lakewood native and peripatetic chef Pete Tsirambidis has opened a homey little eatery in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood. Tsirambidis, a CIA grad who most recently owned an upscale Florida deli, also plied his trade in Europe, N.Y.C., and on cruise ships before returning to the area. His new lunch and dinner spot, Pete's Corner Grille (4457 Broadview Road, 216-739-1949), features Greek, Mediterranean, and Floridian eats, like linguine with shrimp, ginger, scallions, and ouzo; delicious moussaka; a roast-pork-and-ham Cuban sandwich; and fresh grouper specials. The flavorful food is modestly priced, with nothing on the regular menu topping the $12 mark. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
The brunch beat . . . Mickey Krivosh, owner of the Around the Corner Café (18616 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood), recently launched a Saturday and Sunday brunch menu. Offerings include such enticing-sounding items as French toast filled with marzipan and cream cheese; hot coconut pancakes; Chicken Amandine with asparagus, mushrooms, hearts of palm, and sliced almonds with Amaretto sauce; and Eggs Florentine, topped with creamed spinach and homemade Hollandaise. Prices range from $5.95 for biscuits with homemade sausage gravy to $10.95 for steak and eggs. And in nice weather, you can enjoy your meal on the courtyard patio. Brunch hours are Saturday 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.