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Published: Wednesday, 12/15/2010

Recently reviewed restaurants: 12-16

Summaries of recently reviewed area restaurants, in the order in which they were reviewed, with the most recent at the top.

●Spaghetti Warehouse, 42 South Superior St., remains largely unchanged in the 28 years since it opened in a one-time brewery on downtown's south side. That holds nostalgic charm for some; for others, it appears dated. But if you're hankering for hearty pasta in a big place full of stained glass and antiques, and you don't mind a wait staff that encircles patrons with hand-clapping birthday chants, add this family-friendly spot to your list. $$ 3 stars.

●Baldy-Q Rib Shack, 90 Dodge St., Swanton, is on its way to being known as the place to go for ribs. The smoky, fall-off-the-bone ribs, paired with one or more of the house barbecue sauces, makes Baldy-Q a destination place for meat lovers. Don't forget to leave room for the tasty corn cakes. $ 3 stars.

●Sebastiano's Italiano,4448 Heatherdowns Blvd., is simply a delightful little neighborhood place that has an owner with a huge smile and an even bigger talent for re-creating the Tuscan recipes of his mother and grandmother. The Tricolore will make a carnivore forget about meat, and the Mare and Monte offers a great combination of flavors and textures. If veal marsala is on the menu, it's worth every penny. $$ 4 stars.

●Balance Pan-Asian Grille, 541 The Boulevard, Maumee, offers a unique ‘modular' menu that's big on flavor, variety, and value in a cool minimalist bistro. Diners choose one of five proteins, along with one of five carbs and one of the spectacular sauces to customize fresh, healthy meals. $ 4 stars.

●Adam's Place, 2417 West Laskey Rd., is back in the hands of its original owner, serving excellent steak, fish, and ribs along with a fine sampling of desserts at its Wernert's Corners location. With the feel of a big-city neighborhood restaurant, this place is an understated gem. $$ 4 stars.

●Table Forty 4, 610 Monroe St., is a handsomely renovated century-old building downtown, with a well-rounded menu of tasty sandwiches, specialty salads, and entrees. Opened in April by the owner of the Maumee Chop House, it has a great street-facing patio for mild weather. When crowded, it's noisy. $$ 4 stars.

●Plaza Azteca, 5125 Monroe St., offers Toledo authentic Mexican food that isn't swimming in liquefied cheese. The chori-pollo has a smoky flavor with a little kick from the chorizo, and the tacos al pastor rival some of the best tacos in the city. And don't forget to say, “Mas margaritas, por favor.” $$ 4 stars.

●DiBenedetto's Italian Bistro, 121 South Main St., Bowling Green, has a prime downtown location with a sophisticated urban atmosphere and excellent food. The chicken saltimbocca is spectacular as is the antipasto plate. For dessert, the amaretto parfait is a sublime guilty pleasure. $$ 4 stars.

●Wei Wei Seafood Restaurant, 1202 North Reynolds Rd., does an admirable job with poultry, meat, and seafood dishes, including some unusual offerings, from Szechuan, Cantonese, Hunan, and Mandarin cuisines. Fresh veggies and homemade sauces, such as ginger/soy/cilantro, are a plus. Interior is spartan. Lunch, four days a week, is a good deal with 26 plates under $6 including egg roll and rice. $$ 4 stars.

●Main Street Stable and Tavern, 116 N. Main St., Blissfield, Mich., offers plenty of good food — from the prosciutto and fresh mozzarella melt to the planked whitefish — as well as ambience. The chile-braised beef brisket is tender, and you can't go wrong with the honey-barbecue salmon. $$$ 4 stars.

●City Barbecue, 7402 West Central Ave., is part of a small regional chain that focuses on southern-style barbecue. The ribs are solid and the half chicken excellent, but unfortunately on both of our visits the side dishes were cold and the atmosphere generally drab. $$ 2 stars.

●El Camino Real, 551 West Dussel Drive, Maumee, has a great atmosphere and tasty margaritas, but the Tex-Mex meals are rarely better than ordinary. The guacamole was one delightful aberration. $$ 2 stars.

●SamB's Restaurant, 163 South Main St., Bowling Green, practically wrote the book on bistro cuisine in this unassuming college town with perfectly prepared seafood and steaks. The excellent hazelnut creme brulee and exquisite crab cakes are worth the drive. $$$ 4 stars.

●Calvino's Restaurant and Wine Bar, 3143 West Central Ave., serves Italian fare that focuses on a wide array of specialty pizzas, heaping plates of lasagna and sandwiches. Don't miss the stromboli, especially the tasty Greek with spinach, feta cheese, pine nuts, and more. $$ 3 stars. ●Treo Restaurant, 5703 Main St., Sylvania, presents simple elegance in a charming old downtown building. Open for lunches and dinners with an Italian, French, and American menu and lots of pastas and sauces. $$$ 4 stars.

●Ipoh, 3527 Dorr St., is one of Toledo's best little “hole-in-the-wall” Chinese restaurants. Short on style, but big on flavor, it offers very generous servings at a price that even a college student can afford. The wonderful noodle soups make it easy to overlook the loud, tattered interior. $ 3 stars.

●Nick's Family Cafe, 2516 Reynolds Rd., is the quintessential greasy spoon, a place to go for mounds of food at a modest price. The huge menu features American and Mediterranean standards, from omelets and burgers to grape leaves and gyros. $ 2 stars.

●The SouthBriar Restaurant, 5147 Main St., Sylvania, is a quirky, charming place that serves an eclectic variety of American, German and other types of food. If you go on Wednesday, one of the owners, Tom Henkel, will be out front grilling excellent steaks and other items. Highly recommended. $$ 4 stars.

●Plate 21, 3664 Rugby Dr., near Detroit Avenue and Glanzman Road, is a stylin' coffeeshop that turns out deliciously interesting beverages, sandwiches, soups, and desserts. The interior design alone is worth a visit. $ 4 stars.

●Mayberry Diner, 2155 South Byrne Rd. and 8523 Mayberry Square, Sylvania, are sister restaurants that do a fine job of serving standard American breakfasts and lunches. It's simple and satisfactory. $ 3 stars.

●Five Guys Burgers and Fries, 3305 West Central Ave., focuses on top-quality burgers and fries in massive servings. Some of the unexpected burger toppings include grilled mushrooms and jalapenos. The fresh cut fries, cooked in peanut oil, are delicious. $ 4 stars.

●Black Pearl, 4630 Heatherdowns Blvd., across from the Stranahan complex, takes over where its predecessor, HJ's, left off. The decor is still the same, as are parts of the menu and some of the staff. The prime rib is tender, mouth-watering, and served in generous portions, and the perch deserves attention too. $$$ 4 stars.



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