Guarino's advertises themselves as the oldest restaurant in Cleveland. I don't know if it's true, but I was looking for a good meal and thought I'd give it a try. It's located in Cleveland's "Little Italy" district. The area consists of a couple of blocks of one Italian eatery after another. Parking is scarce, so plan accordingly. Additionally, everything in Cleveland closes early, so you better get in there before 7pm if you plan to walk around and visit anyplace else.
I ordered several items off the menu. I ordered the Mussels appetizer, a Caprese salad, and the Braciole which is described as a specialty on the menu. The following accounts what happened during the order and delivery of my meal:
I asked the waitress if the mussels were a good size…not tiny… She responded “yes” to my question. What arrived were 13 of the tiniest mussels I’ve ever been served. Seriously, they were the size of the mussels you get in those tiny little tins in the grocery store. They came in a garlic wine sauce which was ok, but not memorable. To make it worse, one of the mussels was not open…and you don’t want to eat one of those. Strike one.
I asked the waitress if the mozzarella cheese in the Caprese salad was cow or buffalo(which is traditional). She said she thought the cheese was made from buffalo milk. What arrived was a plate with slices of under-ripe tomatoes, rough chopped basil and a cow’s milk mozzarella cheese, drizzled with some cheap olive oil and a vaguely balsamic kind of vinegar. Strike two.
I asked the waitress if the Braciole was good. Stupid question, I know, but for a house specialty, I really wanted to see how excited she was about the dish. She responded “it’s good”. What came to the table was a large dish of average pasta, covered in an average sauce, and topped with what looked like a sausage link. The Braciole was literally about the size of a roll of quarters. What of there was tasted okay, but only okay. Additionally, it took foreeeeeeeeeeeeeever to get this disappointing entrée. Strike three.
If I don’t get a decent meal, I don’t stick around for desert. You don’t deserve any more of my money. The service was below standard. You’d think for being the oldest restaurant in Cleveland they’d take a little more pride, but such was not the case. If you’ve ever seen that show where they take restaurants that are on the brink of collapse due to terrible everything and turn it around, this is one of those places. It's been ridden hard, put away wet too many times and should probably be put out of its misery. I’d skip it and wait until it makes it on the show….
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