By Anne Mitchell for CityBeat
Early spring has us all outdoors, exploring gardens, ballparks and eateries. If you're not drifting through the daffodils or noshing on an outrageous hot dog topped with baked beans, Fritos, French-fried onions and cheese at the Machine Room Grille at Great American Ball Park, you should be exploring one of the following shiny new dining spots.
The Banks is getting lots of attention, of course, with everything from the Moerlein Lager House (hooray!), The Holy Grail and Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill (good grief, what a name) to Johnny Rockets and Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt. (I have been asked for my opinion on the Mahogany's loan situation and I'm ignoring the question. I'll let my taste buds decide.)
Downtown, Silver Ladle opened in the 580 Building (580 Walnut St.) just last month. Serving lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday, Silver Ladle is at the eastern edge — the Main Street end — of the section of Sixth Street marketed as "Restaurant Row," with Mr. Sushi and Trattoria Roma. Specialties are soup and chili, and although the owner is a member of the Skyline Chili family the chili is reportedly not-Skyline. (513-834-7650 or www.silver-ladle.com )
Our old friend Chef Josh Campbell has re-opened Mayberry in a new location, 1211 Main St. in Over-the-Rhine. Mayberry's lunch menu has always had excellent sandwiches — I love the BLT, which is totally non-traditional and utterly delicious. For dinner, the Truffle Fried Chicken and Lobster and Shrimp Linguine are popular and so is the Beet Salad with Whipped Goat Cheese.
We stopped in for Sunday brunch and had a great Bloody Mary — nice that Mayberry now has a liquor license. With 12 beers on tap and the patio open, why aren't we there right now? (513-381-5999 or mayberrycincy.com )
Burnell's has been open for a few weeks in Mayberry's former location, 915 Vine St. I stopped in and tried the Churrasco Flatbread on the cashier's recommendation and I loved it. Rich shredded braised beef, ruby pickled onion and spicy, garlicy chimichurri atop a thin flatbread crust. Awkward to eat, but worth it. I'll be back to try dinner once it's underway. (513-345-7163)
And spring means the food trucks are back! PizzaBomba is among the newest. I love food trucks but they're usually not for days when you're in a hurry or low on cash. Good news: PizzaBomba is fast and a bargain — $3 for a slice. The pies are pre-baked and slices are warmed up in the on-board pizza oven. It's "just like New York," the owners, Terri Wilson and Bill Stone, assured me. They make their own sausage, and — I assure you — it's delish. Follow them on Twitter for daily locations.
Once upon a time, the southern end of Newport was home to so many Italian immigrants that it was called Spaghetti Hill. Now, Strong's Brick Oven Pizza (336 Monmouth St.; 859-291-6836) joins Newport Pizza and Dewey's in helping the north end of Newport look like Pizza Heaven. Strong's opened just last week so I haven't been yet, but brick-oven Pizza Alla Vodka that's right next door to the dry-cleaners? I'll be picking up dinner there soon.
And I'm looking forward to my first Whackburger in May. Mike Harwood, a former kitchen manager at the Holy Grail, is opening his new burger joint right across the street from the Madison Theater (715 Madison Ave., Covington). It's meant to serve the Madison's pre- and post-concert crowds, but we neighbors are also psyched to have a new burger option in town, especially one with veggie and turkey burger options. Welcome to the neighborhood and thanks for giving the building a much-needed facelift!
Also opening near Fountain Square this weekend, Currito at 121 Fifth St. Can't say I've tried Currito yet, but since this local chain is owned by the guys who own Bakersfield OTR, the tacos and tequila joint in the Gateway Quarter that's gotten rave reviews, I'm willing to give it a shot. The ingredients look good and the website mentions breakfast burritos — an option that's hard to find downtown right now.
If you haven't tried it yet, Freshii (425 Walnut St., www.freshii.com ) recently opened in the US Bank Building, on the Walnut Street side of the Westin Hotel. Primarily for carry-out, Freshii offers salads, burritos and rice bowls and also has vegan options. I had the Buddha Satay bowl with Tofu — a too-large portion, but the veggies were nice and fresh and the peanut satay sauce was surprisingly spicy. Check it out!
You can read more from this review on CityBeat's website by clicking here (http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/article-25276-the_bites_of_spring.html) .