The way we found out about Harlow’s (14319 Madison Ave, Lakewood, OH 44107) was by spotting it’s distinctive, slightly rounded retro building on Madison Ave. in Lakewood. With the distinctive pink neon script sign reading simply “Harlow’s” we had no idea what kind of restaurant lay within. Turns out Harlow’s is a pizza place, but not just any pizza, but specifically Neapolitan pizza cooked in a high-heat wood oven.
Harlow’s is a small space, but exceedingly cute and modern. You can eat pizza at one of the long tables in the main space, at the outdoor patio, or bellied up to the bar. All pizzas are 12″ Neapolitan-style and can feed one hungry person.We always have to get the classic Margherita ($13) the classic with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, EVOO, and fresh basil. Other varieties include a Bianca ($13) white pizza, spicy salami ($15) and the Leonardo ($15) a white pizza with pistachios, grape tomatoes and arugula.
At Harlow’s they keep the balls of pizza dough near the pizza oven, and it is fun to watch the pizzas being assembled before your eyes. Since the pizzas are made to order, there may be a slight backup before you get yours. The pizzas are cooked lightning quick in the authentic, custom wood-fired oven for only a couple of minutes. The Neapolitan-style pizzas come out piping hot with a chewy crust dotted with char marks, and a little sloppy in the middle, like a good Neapolitan pizza should be. We especially love the toppings at Harlow’s and everything is always super-fresh. Though we like all of the pizzas we have tried at Harlow’s, we think the Margherita is our favorite. Sometimes you just can’t improve on a classic.
Along with pizza, you can get a small selection of wine and beer, and interesting aguas frescas (when we were there, lime or watermelon were the choices). From Tuesday – Thursday you can get the pizza to go, but you can’t call in ahead, so keep that in mind. We celebrated our new house by getting some Harlow’s takeout, as you can see below. We are so glad that a fortuitous neon sign spotting led us to the Neapolitan pizza at Harlow’s!
The Cleveland area actually has a huge supply of Thai good restaurants, and though we have a few favorites, we are still looking for our go-to spot. In Thai Thai Bangkok Street Food (13735 Madison Ave, Lakewood, OH 44107) we have a worthy contender. We first came across Thai Thai at the Asiatown Night Market over the summer, where they were selling bubble tea, chicken skewers and fried noodles. We were excited to learn that they also had a bricks-and-mortar spot in Lakewood, so we decided to pop into Thai Thai for a pre-concert meal.
The menu at Thai Thai is limited – which in this case is a good thing – the focus is on Bangkok-specific street foods instead of a more typical wide menu. The owners are from Bangkok and have taken care to bring over some of the more unique street foods from the city. There are favorites on the menu like pad thai and pad see eiw, but also more unique dishes like Yen Ta Foe (which M actually tried as a street food in Bangkok) – a pink soup made with fermented soybean paste and roasted duck noodles with bean sprouts.
On a Saturday night, Thai Thai was quite crowded, but the owner Kiwi was efficiently making the rounds at the table and was quite friendly with recommendations. To start, we tried the North East Sausage, ($5.50) which is homemade pork sausage made with rice and spices, as well as Tom Yum soup ($3.50), which is a sweet and sour soup with lemongrass and mushrooms. The soup was particularly delicious, and was more complex than the other Tom Yums we have tried in the past. For mains we ordered Kra Praow (bottom dish below – $9.95), spicy chicken, rice and basil; and Larb (top dish below – $9.95), a spicy chicken salad with lemongrass, red onion and cilantro.
The mains were both delicious, with moderate spiciness, but nothing too overpowering. All of the ingredients were super-fresh, clean and simple. Thai Thai’s dishes really did remind us of the food we had in Thailand. For dessert they also had kabocha squash custard and mango sticky rice ($5 each). However, we opted for one of the many flavors of bubble tea – taro. We enjoyed the more unique dishes available at Thai Thai, and this factor helps bring a new element to the Thai food scene in the Cleveland area. We will definitely be back to Thai Thai soon!
We are recently back from NYC, and had a hankering for some arepas. Fortunately, Cleveland has a self-proclaimed areperia, Barroco (12906 Madison Ave Lakewood, Ohio ). We visited Barroco on an unseasonably warm day, which meant we were able to enjoy the outdoor patio alongside our starchy treats. We were not disappointed, the simple but bright patio was a great place to enjoy some juice or a cerveza on a nice day. By the way, did we mention that Barroco is BYOB? However, even if you sit inside, you are in for a visual treat – the walls are covered with murals, twinkle lights, photographs and the accumulated scrawlings of other customers.
The menu is an interesting mix of Colombian and other South American influences, and there is something for everyone (even vegetarians). You can get a starter of shrimp ceviche ($11) or opt for the larger “picado” platter which is an assortment of pork, chorizo, yuca and ($40). For a traditional Colombian meal – you can get the national dish of sausage, rice and beans, Bandeja Paisa ($19). However, we were in the mood for the specialty of the house – arepas ($12 each) – of which there were both traditional and more avant-garde versions. For example, you can order a arepa with Bolognese sauce or buffalo chicken. We got two kinds of arepa in the more traditional vein: first the Reina Pepiada – Grilled chicken breast with avocado, red peppers and feta cheese; and next the Ropa Vieja – braised beef in tomato sauce with black beans, feta and mozzarella.
The arepas were freshly made from white corn into neat squares and generously filled (as you can see above). We appreciated that the masa was made in-house and you could really taste the difference. In terms of fillings, the ropa vieja was particularly delicious and comforting. We also shared a side of guacamole with plantain chips, and each arepa came with a size of expertly fried sweet plantains (did someone say plantain?). Once spring rolls around again we hope to give Barroco’s outdoor patio a visit again soon. In the meantime, we will enjoy exploring the quirky interior while we get our arepa fix.