PARMA, Ohio – The large sign that beckons to those passing along Broadview Road isn't the one you'd expect when you are seeking a fine Italian meal at Corleone's Ristorante.
The restaurant shares space with several businesses in a strip mall, with Corleone's tucked at the end. But once you're inside, the tasteful earth tones, d 1/4 u00e9cor and aromas will make you forget immediately about what's outside so you can concentrate on the menu.
My requirements in an Italian restaurant created a culinary terzetto for me at Corleone's: Linguine as a side, sauce that is not too sweet, and Peroni on draft.
It seemed a perfect time for a visit, being that the restaurant is marking a quarter century in business this year.
On our first visit the place was packed. Fortunately our waitress warned us a large private party had filled the back dining area, but she hustled and our wait wasn't bad.
We passed on salads, we glanced at the flatbreads. We opted for the more unique sounding deconstructed bruschetta. Fresh tomatoes, even this time of year, made this dish, mixed with herbs. My typical complaint is that there's never enough crostini, but we saved some of our fresh, warm bread served with olive oil and a generous spoonful of grated cheese.
Another appetizer - well-cooked seared scallops - hit the mark. Each piece is placed on a slice of grilled zucchini and accented with a bright-tasting tomato relish.
One additional note regarding appetizers: We loved seeing two versions of calamari - fritti and saut 1/4 u00e9ed steak. The latter is calling our name on our next visit.
Eggplant Rollatini is a cheesy layered tube with spinach and ricotta, topped with provolone and slathered in marinara.
Veal dishes are named after known Italian-Americans: Sinatra, Fratello, Gotti, Trivisonno. The Sinatra - lightly floured milk-fed veal with spinach, ricotta, eggplant and provolone - is finished with marinara. The breading was delicious, not greasy, and offered a mild crunchy texture. It resembled chicken parmigiana when it arrived - no skimping on the cheeses - and it took will power to leave some for lunch the next day along with the accompanying side of linguine marinara.
Speaking of sauce, Corleone's seems to strike a balance in its sauces between sweet and tangy. A pet peeve of mine is eating sauce that is too sweet, and the chefs seem to have hit a crowd pleaser here.
A good Italian restaurant will offer much more than pasta, through that's my personal first inclination. Sea bass was very thick but unbelievably light: A simple dish, with vegetables cooked perfectly, and nothing over seasoned. The almond-crusted fish was moist, and the lemon and butter sauce gave it a zing without leaning too buttery or acidic.
Chicken Liza (owners are Pete and Liza Bosinger) offers three juicy cutlets crusted with pine nuts and Asiago, which played well against the silky and slightly tangy Romano-Chardonnay cream sauce.
Five desserts were available. We tried cannoli, with a generous drizzle of chocolate topping this classic Italian delicacy. Dense and slightly sweet, but not overly sugary. The flaky shell was light yet crispy, a wonderful contrast to the smooth filling, which sometimes can be grainy. On our subsequent visit we ventured to the rich and decadent cr 1/4 u00e8me brulee.
Cleaning the plate: There simply were no misses on any of the dishes we ordered off this menu, which ranges from traditional pasta to sea bass and variations on veal and chicken. An exquisite wine list rounds out the menu. It's easy to see why this is a favorite. We'll gladly return to explore other dishes.
The vibe at Corleone's
? It's located just north of Rockside Road and on the east side of Broadview Road in a strip mall. The lot is out front with plenty of spaces. It's eight miles from downtown Cleveland.
? The wine list is one of the best and most extensive around for both by-the-glass and bottle selections. A Davis Bynum Pinot Noir is an excellent lighter-bodied red, and we found a wonderful Amarone. Our servers split on their wine knowledge: On one visit, when we mentioned the dishes we were thinking of ordering (fish and veal), we were told: "I like Cabernet Sauvignon." That's nice, but we were looking for a food-pairing appropriate wine, not a server's preference.
? Corleone's is a regular participant in the Cleveland's Finest Hors D'oeuvre Contest, the annual fundraiser for Our Lady of the Wayside at Progressive Field. In fact, Corleone's has won the competition eight times since 2007. The 26th annual event is Thursday, April 2; here's more on the event.
Where: 5669 Broadview Road, Parma.
Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 4-11p.m. Saturday, 4-8 p.m. Sunday.
Happy hour: 3-7 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Prices: Appetizers, $11-$14; soup, $5-$6.50; salads, $12-$18; entrees, $15-$38; dessert, varies.
Credit cards: All major.
Accessibility: Mostly one level. Bar is in a segregated area. You have to head down a walkway that cuts through an area where servers work to get to the restrooms.
Notes: We make two anonymous visits to restaurants we review for dinner, and we do not accept complimentary meals. One star means fair; 2 stars, good; 3 stars, very good; 4 stars, exceptional. (Zero stars: not recommended.)
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