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Issue Date: February 2011


On the Go! - Italian

« New York Style Pizza ... $13

Valentino's Pizza - The pepperoni is an Italian import, and the crust — cooked seven minutes on a stone hearth — is crisp but easily bent in half for that New York-style feel. Owner Mike Iammarino also uses red onions instead of white, which he says gives each pie an extra sweet flavor. Info to Go » The small menu spans pizza, traditional Italian fare such as eggplant Parmesan and subs with homemade meatballs. Iammarino's dad opened Valentino's in 1974, and the pizza dough, which is made fresh daily, hails from a recipe handed down from his grandmother, Theresa. "I've been doing this since I was about 5 or 6," Iammarino says. "It's the only way I know how to make pizzas."

Pick Up » 2197 Murray Hill Road, ClevelandOhio, 216-795-0463, valentinos-pizza.com

Toasted Ravioli ... $11.95

Go for Mama Roberto's half meat, half cheese order, and you'll get eight large pillows with a perfect breading-to-pasta-to-filling ratio. Made from California tomatoes, the chunky marinara is designed never to water down or overwhelm the dish, says owner Rick Rhein. The dinner comes with a side salad and signature garlic balls made from pizza dough. Info to Go » The only thing better than good food is more of it. The large portion sizes are intentional here. "There's nothing worse than going out to eat and coming home hungry. That will never happen here," Rhein says. "We're going to give you a lot of food."

Pick Up » 8658 Mentor Ave., MentorOhio, 440-205-8890, mamarobertos.com

Eggplant Parmesan ... $11

It's like an Italian eggroll: breaded eggplant wrapped around a soft ricotta center. Topped with a layer of Parmesan, it's a gooey deviation from the standard preparation. Verso Casual Italian Restaurant owner and chef Ed Ripepi added a second layer of cheese because, in his view, Parmesan makes a better topper than filler. Info to Go » Ripepi's 3-year-old Verso is an updated version of the 40-year-old Holiday Pizza that he purchased and relocated to Parma. While the recipes on the menu are Ripepi's, the pizza is the original recipe. "The philosophy hasn't changed," he says, "just the location."

Pick Up » 5869 Broadview Road, ParmaOhio, 216-741-4444, verso-restaurant.com

Cheeseburger in Paradise Fold Over ... $13.99-$21.99

Danny Boy's Pizza's cheeseburger-gone-wild starts with raw dough folded over seasoned beef and cheese and baked for a crust that eats like a pizza on the bottom but is burger-bun soft on the top. Inside, you'll find chunks of pickles, tomato and lettuce, and a smothering of mayo, mustard and ketchup. "If you get the family size, that's the biggest cheeseburger you can get in town," says co-owner Rob Grendow. Info to Go » Because this place's small size can lead to long waits for a table, carryout is popular here. So Grendow is especially conscious of his takeout customers. "We take care of the packaging to make sure people have a similar experience at home," Grendow says. That means an order of pasta comes in a reusable, microwave-safe bowl.

Pick Up » 20251 Lake Road, Rocky RiverOhio, 440-333-9595, dannyboyspizza.com

Pesto Pasta w/Feta ... $6.95

Pesto mixed with feta might sound like a potent combination, but put the herb sauce and salty cheese together, and you've got a creamy combo to rival any alfredo. It's one of dozens of create-your-own-pasta combinations at Italian Creations. Start with a pasta and sauce base ($6.95/10-ounce order) then work through 22 veggie and six meat toppings ($1.95 each). Info to Go » Everything here is made with recipes from owner Ross Keller's Italian family. "These are the meals you would have at home," says Keller of his offerings, which also include build-your-own pizzas.

Pick Up » 16104 Hilliard Road, LakewoodOhio, 216-226-2282, italiancreation.com

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