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The common perception of Byblos Fine Lebanese and Italian Dining on Reynolds Road is that the 22-year-old restaurant thrives in the shadow of its older sister, The Beirut.
While the latter has earned a deserved reputation as one of Toledo's best, most dependable establishments, the notion that Byblos is somehow the lesser entity should be dispelled. Both places are uniformly excellent, but the Reynolds Road spot features what could be considered a superior experience thanks to its richly appointed dining area and more intimate setting.
On the second floor of what looks like a prototypical small office building, the interior is warm and dark, with big comfortable booths and chairs. Compared to The Beirut, which on a busy night can seem a bit too cozy with tables placed close together, Byblos is practically spacious.
The food on our visits was exactly what you expect: consistently good (with a couple of minor problems), and served in large portions.
While it's easy to think of Byblos as being mainly a Lebanese establishment -- it is owned by the extended Hajjar family who also own Poco Piatti and of course The Beirut -- its take on Italian food was intriguing and up to the standards set on classics from the far eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea.
Highly recommended is the brachioli ($19) featuring beef tenderloin, wrapped around cheese and ham and sauteed with mushrooms in a red wine sauce. The result was a rich, decadent combination of protein, gooey cheese, and the earthy mushrooms. Lest this sound like some unholy combination of bar foods, suffice to say it very much represented fine dining thanks to the quality of the meat, the preparation and the complex array of flavors.
We were disappointed that the green beans on the side were lukewarm at best. A side of rice was piping hot and cooked just right, without being gooey or hard.
The shish tawook ($13/$18) featured a char-broiled chicken breast served on a bed of rice, that unfortunately also was cold. The rice stole some of the chicken's thunder and frankly tasted much better heated up a day later as an exceptional leftover.
The shish kabob ($14/$19) was cooked medium, which was just right for the skewer of cubed tenderloin. Pink in the middle, but charred on the outside, the steak was piled on rice and a side of fries. Byblos' fries are big, fluffy planks of potato that provide a perfect delivery method for your meal's starch.
Appetizers included sauteed mushrooms ($7.25) -- excellent with just a touch of garlic and butter -- and hummus ($7.25), which comes with radishes, and sliced onions and cucumbers that are perfect for pre-meal grazing.
For lunch we had the shrimp ($8.75), which was sauteed in mushrooms and butter and served over rice; meat ravioli ($10), which has an allspice seasoning that we liked, but that is bit exotic for standard Italian dishes, and the pizza ($8.50/$11).
The latter merits special mention. While it may seem like you're cheating yourself to order pizza on a menu surrounded by top-notch Lebanese and Italian offerings, we highly recommend it. The dough was slathered with thick, fresh cheese and the sauce, pepperoni, and mushrooms burst with spicy flavor. If you live in South Toledo, put Byblos on your local pizza list and give it a try when you're in the mood for a pie.
Byblos has a reputation as being the kind of friendly restaurant that attracts a regular clientele who come for the warm atmosphere and excellent food. If you're not one of those regulars, it's time to become one.
Byblos Fine Lebanese & Italian Dining
★ ★ ★ ★
Address: 1050 S. Reynolds Rd.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. Reservations are accepted.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average Price: $$
Credit Cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.
Web site: byblostoledo.com.
Contact Bill of Fare at firstname.lastname@example.org -83.66473
South Toledo restaurant thrives in shadow of its sister The Beirut.