I have driven or walked past Il Bacio numerous times and always wondered how it was. Driving down Cornell past Murray Hill is my preferred way to drive through Little Italy, because there is less traffic. Well, I was finally able to try it last Saturday. Someone had recommended it to us by saying it is “better than Michaelangelo’s”. Since Michaelangelo’s is one of my favorite restaurants in Little Italy we knew we needed to check it out. My friend M. called that afternoon for a reservation for “2 but possibly 4 or 5″ at 7:15 and was told it wasn’t a problem. Since parking is always rather difficult in Little Italy we valeted the car. The valet was very attentive and had the car sitting on the curb when we were finished because he had kept an eye on us in the restaurant. Now that’s service! We were warmly greeted, and our server took our coats.
Il Bacio is off the main drag of Little Italy (just across from Washington Place Bistro – formerly known as the Baricelli Inn) and has about 8-10 tables. It reminded me of a small Italian restaurant in Germany that I used to frequent. The staff was knowledgeable and very attentive. I had ordered sparkling water, and the server kept filling up my glass from the bottle next to me. My friend M. wasn’t sure whether she wanted wine or prosecco and was given generous tastes of both to help her decide. She decided on the prosecco. I ordered a nice glass of Pinot Noir. The owner (Antonio) kept checking in with us throughout the meal to make sure everything was fine. He was very friendly and delightful. Everything was made from scratch, and it showed!
The bread service was fresh, and the pats of fresh butter on the plate had softened enough that it didn’t tear the bread. That’s always a plus! I hate trying to smear ice cold butter onto bread. We loved the bread so much we asked for a second basket and received it without a word.
We started off ordering the bruschetta and eggplant to share. I was craving the bruschetta the next day. The diced tomatoes were plump and luscious, and the bread was perfectly crisp yet spongy enough to soak up the tomato juice and olive oil. Each serving was served with 3 fresh spears of green asparagus. We ordered two orders of bruschetta (two slices each) for the four of us and fought over the third spear! Yum! The eggplant was sliced thin, lightly breaded and fried, and topped with a marinara and ricotta sauce. It was slightly chewy, but the sauce was to die for!
My friend M. ordered the beet salad, while I ordered the Caprese salad. I preferred her beet salad. I should have known not to order Caprese when tomatoes aren’t in season, but I also prefer lots of fresh basil with my Caprese. The Caprese salad here is served with olive oil and herbs and only a sprig of fresh basil. I would bet it is divine when tomatoes are in season though! The beet salad was delicious! It features pickled beets served over mixed greens with roasted pine nuts and Gorgonzola. I kept stealing beets off her plate!
For my entree I ordered the veal tortellini alla bolognese. It was delicious! The tortellini were cooked al dente and the bolognese sauce was extremely flavorful. I was full after the appetizers and salad courses, so I ended up taking half of my order home. It was just as good reheated the next night! M. ordered the Ravioli Spinach Al Gorgonzola (spinach ravioli with olive oil, zucchini, gorgonzola & cream) and loved it. I love Gorgonzola, but it doesn’t love me. My single small bite was very flavorful. One of our friends ordered the special risotto with mussels, scallops and shrimp. The bite I had of that was absolutely delicious!
We were too full from all the delicious food to order dessert, but the homemade tiramisu was extremely tempting. We were told Antonio makes it himself. We will definitely be going back soon to try it! Maybe we’ll just do appetizers, salad and desserts next time.
All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Il Bacio and will be going back again soon! If you are looking for a tiny, cozy, romantic restaurant with good food and attentive but not overbearing service, Il Bacio is the place for you!
2181 Murray Hill Road
Cleveland, OH 44106