Summaries of recently reviewed area restaurants, in the order in which they were reviewed, with the most recent at the top. To see previous Bill of Fare reviews on the Web, go to toledoblade.com and type "Bill of Fare" into the search box and click enter.
● Ciao Bella, 3880 Harbor Light Landing Dr., Port Clinton, is the recent culinary brainchild of Mel and Barb Ayers, who were already enjoying the successes of two Nagoya Japanese sushi establishments near Port Clinton and in Perrysburg. They do Italian right as well, with anything from classic lasagna and pasta dishes, to meat and fish dishes heightened to full flavor with fresh vegetables and herbs in the restaurant’s own garden. 4 stars. $$$.
● Zia’s Burger Bar, 805 N. Reynolds Rd., has mastered the art of the American classic. In addition to several great burger varieties, Zia's offers great beer-battered onions rings and outstanding grilled barbecue wings. $$, 3 stars.
● Burger Bar 419, 5125 Monroe St., Sylvania Township, crafts the American classic hamburger in a variety of ways, leading to burger bliss. Hamburgers are dressed with braised short ribs, BBQ sauce, hot peppers, a variety of cheeses, onions, bacon, and mushrooms. Locally sourced grass fed beef is consistently cooked to perfection. Salads, veggie options, and gluten free buns are on hand for the health conscious eater. $$, 4 stars.
● Smoke Bar BQ, 2556 Tremainsville Rd., gets it right when it sticks to dry-rub delicious barbecue: brisket: ribs, pulled pork, ham and bean soup, baked beans, etc. But it veers off the main course with weird takes on common side dishes such as potato salad and mac and cheese. $$, 3 stars.
● Firepit Grille, 7723 Airport Hwy., Holland, is an attractive venue with some good bones: long hours, a Sunday jazz brunch, TVs everywhere, and a great patio. But no surprises or delights in its standard-fare menu of sandwiches and burgers, a couple of steaks and seafood items. And the kitchen wasn’t on its game when we visited. $$, 2 stars.
● Jo-Jo's Original Pizzeria, 4336 Monroe St. Comfort food is the name of the game at this Italian-American eatery, which has been serving up pizzas and hearty pasta dishes since 1957. You can get everything from sandwiches to fettucine Alfredo in steaming portions. Scarcity of parking and limited dessert offerings are among the few blemishes. On the plus side, half price pasta dinners on Tuesday and half price pizzas on Monday and Wednesday keep customers coming back. $$, 3 stars.
● Swig, 219 Louisiana Ave., prides itself on offering craft beers and hand-crafted sausages and cured meats, but the downtown Perrysburg gastropub should satisfy even the most routine eater and drinker. The menu is packed with everything from the unusual — a duck reuben, scotch eggs, or a gyro sausage ground out of lamb — to some of the old standbys. The pub opened five years ago and appears to have a cult following of those interested in the craft beer of the week. $$, 4 stars.
● Campus Pollyeyes, 440 E. Court St, Bowling Green, serves very good pizza, subs, salads, nachos, and more, but it’s the “world’s best stuffed breadsticks” that makes this eatery near Bowling Green State University stand out. $$, 4 stars.
● Hot Pot & Asian Grill, 4038 Talmadge Rd. brings the communal concept of do-it-yourself cooking, popular in China, to Toledo. Friends can join in cooking raw meats, fish, and vegetables in a spiced broth or on the grill. Newcomers may have difficulty learning the hot-pot method as staff do not clearly communicate the concept or cooking times. For those who do not want to work for their meal, a variety of prepared Chinese and Korean dishes are available. $$$, 2 stars.
● Pam’s Corner, 116 10th St., Pam’s brings something different to downtown, which is largely populated by pubs. The place has a simplicity about it that creates a welcoming atmosphere, with good vibes and even better food. The menu boasts mainly salads and sandwiches, and the restaurant serves up two homemade soups and chili daily. $-$$, 3 stars.
● For generations, Mancy’s Steak House, 953 Phillips Ave., has been the destination restaurant for fine dining in Toledo. Although the competition has increased over the years, Mancy’s still has a prominent spot at the front of the line thanks to well prepared, aged steaks and impeccable table service. Pick the house New York strip, a Delmonico, a filet, or any other steak — you can’t go wrong at Mancy’s. $$$$, 5 stars.
● Backyard BBQ & Booze, 2600 W. Sylvania Ave #1, Toledo, excels at a meat-centric menu that includes Texas-style ribs, country fried steak, and glazed, smoked pork chops. Most portions are geared for Texas-size appetites. The cavernous eatery sports a country chic decor with plenty of elbow room for diners (it seats 250). It has a full bar, but few options for vegetarian diners. Still, it falls short on the generic sides (baked beans, coleslaw, muffins etc.), something to work on in its second three months. $$, 3 stars.
● River’s Edge at Carrington, 911 St. James Park Ave., Monroe, Mich. and River’s Edge Pizza, Pub & Grille, 135 Riley St., Dundee, both have good cooking, bars, and nearly identical menus (ribs, pizza & Italian, burgers, wraps, sandwiches, fish, salads). One backs up to the River Raisin’s dam in downtown Dundee, the other has a patio and dining room views of long greens at Carrington Golf Club in Monroe. And both are uniformly good with several homemade items, including soups, desserts, pasta sauces, and fine pizzas. $$, 4 stars.
● Lazeez Mediterranean Cuisine, 337 N. St. Clair St., has consistently good food, consistently good service. The restaurant holds its own among a plethora of Middle Eastern cuisine eateries in Toledo. Its most popular item, the chicken schawarma wrap lives up to its name. The baba ghanoush is flavorful and lemony - a must-try. It would be great to see the restaurant expand its hours into the evening and offer a dinner menu. $, 3 stars.
● Sakura Express, 1385 Conant St., Maumee, is the fast-food version of the popular Sakura Japanese Steakhouse on Monroe. Express offers teriyaki dishes and made-to-order sushi at reasonable prices. The wait is a bit longer than at a typical fast-food establishment, but the quality is worth every extra minute. $, 4 stars.
● Naslada Bistro, 182 S. Main St., Bowling Green, takes patrons on a journey throughout Europe with Bulgarian, Greek, and Italian dishes, including grass fed beef served in a traditional clay pot, stuffed grape leaves, mousaka, and panini. The chef goes to great lengths to offer gluten free and vegan options, for soups, bread, and pasta-based dishes. Leave Toledo behind and enter a world filled with spices, herbs, and belly-filling stews. A bonus, it also offers a kid's menu. $$, 3 stars.
● Father John’s Brewing Co., 301 W. Butler St., Bryan. While stone walls, themed rooms, stained-glass windows, and religious icons certainly are eye-catching, it's the top-notch beers and food that steal the show, and rightfully so. There are 16 different brews to choose from and the prime rib and rison strip loin are not to be missed. The menu changes with the seasons, and on the chefs' whims, so there are many reasons to make the hour-plus trip to Williams County. $$$-$$$$, 5 stars.
● Memphis Pearl, 5147 Main St., Sylvania, has moved in and redecorated the former B Gump’s/SouthBriar restaurants, with soft lighting, a pale turquoise palette, and photos of Memphis landmarks. It’s respectable steaks, seafood, pasta, sandwiches, and salads; a menu similar to its sister, the Black Pearl in South Toledo. 10 craft beers on tap. $$-$$$, 3 stars.
● West Side Bistro, 3324 Secor Rd., Suite 10, offers good food and music in an atmosphere that's both upscale and laid back. The menu boasts a number of salads, flatbread pizzas, chicken and fish entrees, steak, jambalaya, lobster roll, and many other items. We enjoyed the southwestern chicken pasta ($17), a colorful blend of peppers and onions, with roasted chicken and fettuccine, tossed in a zesty cream sauce. It's only been open a few months, but from the looks of things, this place has staying power. $$-$$$, 3 stars.
● Spicy Tuna Bar & Grill, 7130 Airport Highway, Holland, is an Asian-fusion restaurant offering scores of menu options. Sushi is clearly the focus, featuring all the standards and plenty of unique twists. The Mexican, featuring spicy crab, avocado, jalapenos, and cream cheese, is definitely worth a look. Several Chinese dinners and a wide-ranging drink menu are also featured. $$$, 3 stars.
● Domo Sushi, 6725 W. Central Ave., is one of the better sushi houses in Toledo. It offers an elegant dining atmosphere, while keeping prices wallet-friendly. The traditional sushi favorites are all here, but the chef offers some twists with Sashimi Ceviche, Spicy Tuna Cocktail, and list of cleverly named specialty rolls — Hot Love is a whole lot of somethin' somethin'. For fresh sashimi trust the chef's choice. Great for a date or business meal. $$-$$$, 3 stars.
● City Hall Grille & Drinks, 315 S Reynolds Rd., has a large selection of sandwiches, that includes stacks from the deli, thick cheeseburgers, and specialty sandwiches. The reuben is a favorite and the gyro takes up half the plate. The South Toledo diner is akin to the popular television show Cheers, in which the bar is lined with customers who keep coming back, and a wait staff who knows your name. $$, 3 stars.
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