The hit song of 1919 was "Swanee", music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Irving Caeser. The first line of the refrain goes "I've been away from you a long time.....". Since I wrote about repetitiveness I thought I'd start with a couple of spots for which that line is most descriptive.
"Riverside Korean Restaurant" 512 Madison Ave. Covington (859) 291-1484 has been in place for about 20 years but I have not been there for 5 or more. Tuesday I had lunch with Paul Weckman, owner and chef of "Otto's", which plans an expansion the spring, and we both ordered the "dolsot bibimbap" the traditional hot stone pots filled with rice, vegetables, meat( me) or tofu( Paul) and topped with a fried egg and chili paste. Along with this ample main dish the server puts out a dozen or so small side items, reminiscent of a "rijstaffel" (Indonesian) or tapis, numerous and smaller bowls. Our sides( one might say condiments) ranged from Kimchee to an apple slaw and included several pickled vegetables plus spinach leaves, noodles etc. Fun, good, tasty and possibly the most authentic in the area.
Another, not resent dining spot, was "Nicola's" 1420 Sycamore St. Cincinnati, OH 45202 (513) 721-6200. It is "pricey" but to my way of thinking the best Italian in the city. Nick Pietoso has been in business for about 10 years( his son Christian runs "Via Vite") and the family really upgraded the Italian restaurant scene with his arrival. The evening started with a bottle of "Gavi", shared with another guest, and followed with salads and pasta courses. The other couple had Cesar( made table side, by the proprietor) which I tasted, it was wonderful; while Marilyn and I had a shredded Belgian Endive and pear combination, lightly dressed. Marilyn's main course, as usual, was pasta Bolognese, while I ordered, and devoured, two half orders; Veal Agnolotti ( large ravioli) and petite Potato Gnocchi, browned and served on a bed of very light cream sauce and chives. The Gnocchi were like eating light, small clouds of slightly sweetened cheese filled potato puffs. I can't rave enough or wait for a return engagement. As I said, diners are not inexpensive but the food, service and atmosphere are all conducive to a wonderful evening.
Other spot, for the past week, were also "top of the line" " The Precinct", with a completely new dish, "pounded" veal chop Picata. This new offering was outstanding and large enough for two, hungry eaters to share. The chop is flattened to about a half inch and is breaded and pan sauteed. The bone is attached to one side and a butter, lemon and caper sauce is served separately. A worthy addition to their "chop house" menu. Their lettuce wedge is also large enough to serve 2 if not a whole table.
"Enoteca Emilia" now takes reservations on the 2nd floor. Six of us had a large table, at 6:30, and the layout makes conversation quite enjoyable. We tasted and passed many items, from assorted cheeses to several deserts( many other items in between) and several bottles of Barolo. I wont attempt to list all the food items which made their way around the table but no one left hungry, thirsty of unsatisfied.
These two restaurants, plus others, make dining on the eastern side of the city a joy.