BOWLING GREEN — Close your eyes and imagine you're at 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia. Now, open them. If you're standing in front of Mister Spots on 206 Main St., you're about to eat the next-best thing: a cheese steak that would make both Pat and Geno proud.
Mister Spots has been in Bowling Green since 1985, having resided on Court Street before moving to its Main Street location last year. Besides its cheese steaks, Mister Spots is known for wings.
MENU: Mister Spot's
Eating a Philly Original cheese steak with American Cheese and grilled onions ($6.45) on an Amoroso bun straight from Philadelphia in Ohio almost feels like a sin. It's that good. There have been a lot of chain sandwich shops who have tried to mimic the South Philly taste. Who knew you had to go to Bowling Green to find it?
The hot boneless wings (large, $7.25) delivered heat and taste. Each chunk was moist on the inside and was hot enough without taking away the taste of the chicken.
The Spots Special ($6.60) is an Italian sub taken up a notch with all your favorite salty meats — ham, mortadella, capicola, and salami — with provolone cheese on a soft, fresh Amoroso roll. All the hoagies are served with mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, olive oil, vinegar, and oregano. It sounds like a lot, but it isn't overwhelming in size and everything works together in harmony.
The Parkwood ($5.45) — roast beef, turkey, ham, and American cheese — served on wheat is like a sandwich only your mother could make because all the meat, cheese, and mayo somehow still fit between two slices of bread. It was a fantastic choice, especially for the price.
If you have a hefty appetite, go ahead and order the waffle cheese fries ($3.50). They are an indulgence, but totally worth it, especially if you've already given in to the cheese-steak temptation.
Mister Spots is adorned with pictures of the Philadelphia skyline, as well as art depicting former basketball star Julius Erving on one of the walls. The eatery, which also has a location in Ann Arbor, has beer on tap and bottles of beer for sale.
Jominic's solid for hearty sandwiches
TOLEDO — I try to shop local as much as the next person and will support Jominic's Trattoria in downtown for that reason.
But if you're competing with the big boys of the sandwich chains — Subway and Jimmy John's — faster and better service have to be a priority.
We stopped recently for lunch and had to wait 20 minutes for our order, and, frankly, if we weren't reviewing the place, we wouldn't have waited that long.
MENU: Jominic's Trattoria
We were told they had a rush of customers because the sandwich shop next door closed, and that might have been the case, but we've been in there before and have waited then too. In addition to the time issue, the restaurant was out of its homemade coleslaw, Pepsi, and Italian bread (which we weren't told until after we ordered).
The tuna artichoke panini ($6.99) had great potential with that combination but fell short. It wasn't very filling and had little artichoke flavor, making it nothing more than an average tuna sub. However, the Tuscan chicken noodle soup ($3.99) was a highlight and exceeded expectations — hearty and worth a return trip.
The Americani club panini ($8.99) featured generous portions of turkey and Italian roast beef, a slice or two of bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, veggies, and was served on an Italian bread sub, well grilled (almost too crispy), and slathered with mayonnaise.
The panini was better than average, though probably not worth the extra wait for the staff to prepare on its one grill (perhaps another one would help pick up the pace?). Since Jominic's was out of coleslaw, a standard bag of "gourmet kettle chips" sufficed as the side order.
The Primo ($9.99) was a heaping sub with plenty of salami, capicolla, ham, prosciutto cotto, roast beef, provolone cheese, lettuce, onions and a dressing-type sauce. It was big enough for two servings and I would get it again, but I was disappointed that the Italian bread wasn't an option that day.
However, the Italian wedding soup ($3.99) more than made up for it. Italian-American restaurants are often only as good as their wedding soup, and this one passed the test. Italian sausage meatballs were plentiful, highlighting the endive, chicken broth, and orzo.
Hopefully, Jominic's can pick itself up here and there, because if time isn't a problem it's a fine addition to the downtown lunch scene.
Contact Bill of Fare at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DINE | RECENT
Summaries of recently reviewed area restaurants, in the order in which they were reviewed, with the most recent at the top.
● Georgio’s Cafe International, 426 N. Superior St., is inarguably one of Toledo's best restaurants thanks to its consistency and high standards for fine dining. Fresh seafood offerings are presented daily and often featured with the restaurant's signature sauces. Make sure you save room for the homemade desserts and excellent chicken gumbo or French onion soups. $$$$ 5 stars.
● Irish Eyes Heavenly Pub, 3324 Secor Rd., is a large, open bar with homemade food that’s mostly off the fried/grilled grid, save for burgers and sandwiches. Lamb stew, fish and chips, and shepherd’s pie are stand outs as are chocolate potato cake and Irish bread-and-butter pudding. Lunch/dinner menu is the same and all meals are $9 or less. $$ 3 stars.
● Toledo Museum Cafe, 2445 Monroe St. Tucked in the museum just inside the Grove Place entrance, the museum's cafe features creative pairings that reward diners who have a sense of adventure. The menu is fairly limited — which befits a place that generally specializes in lunch — but there are a few masterpieces. The salmon BLT is fantastic and the market salad is an addictive combination of flavors and textures. Plus, you get to visit a great museum on your lunch break. $$ 3 stars.
● Degage Express, 301 River Rd., Maumee. The lunch version of Degage Jazz Cafe features an expansive menu, laid-back ambiance and intriguing choices. The offerings are heavy on soups and salads, but the servings are large and the restaurant's emphasis on fresh ingredients is evident. We loved the homemade kettle chips, Degage's superb take on chicken salad, and its winning approach to a basic pulled pork sandwich. $$$ 3 stars.
● 5th Street Pub, 105 W. Fifth St., Perrysburg, cites that it is Ohio’s only certified Neapolitan pizzeria and that is good news for northwest Ohio residents. The pub, located near the city’s historic downtown, houses a handmade brick oven imported from Italy, and it is used to make some of the freshest pizzas around. Priced from $9 to $16, the pizzas are sure to attract gourmet food lovers as well as pizza enthusiasts. $$ 5 stars.
● Forrester’s on the River, at The Docks (26 Main St. in the former Navy Bistro), open since late 2012, has a long patio with superb river views of downtown and the setting sun. A sandwich menu for lunch ($5 to $12) covers the basics. Dinner emphasizes steaks ($23 to $33 - the rib-eye oozed with flavor), and six other entrees are $9 to $15. There are a few delights on the menu, including some vegetarian fare. Things weren’t perfect from the kitchen or the service side, but the place is young and the owners know the business. $$ 3 stars.
● DiBenedetto’s Italian Bistro, 121 S. Main St., Bowling Green, is a charming family-owned restaurant that belies its college town surroundings. Highly recommended is the gamberi con aglio featuring fettucine, shrimp, and bacon in a garlic cream sauce. We can also vouch for the seafood dishes, the gnocchi, and the delicious shrimp scampi. $$$ 3 stars.