And the winner is…
435 Elm St.Cincinnati, OH 45202
Jimmy G's features the unique culinary styling of Cincinnati veteran Executive Chef Jimmy Gibson. The menu includes charcoal/wood fire-cooked steaks, salads, chicken, fish, burgers and appetizers from shrimp cocktail to octopus. Specific items: smoked chicken under a brick with truffle-date honey. Pistachio-Almond Salad and Sea Scallops a la placha with mashed kabocha squash and a sour orange-ginger sauce. Braised Moroccan-style lamb shank with pink lentil-scallion griddle cakes.
1220 Vine St.Cincinnati, OH 45202
A Tavola, a bar, trattoria and pizzeria, is now open a few doors away from Senate Restaurant. The offer pizza and bruschetta cooked in a wood-fired oven, and a drink menu of craft cocktails, micro brews, local beers and quality wines. They got their start doing pizza nights at Northside’s Take the Cake cafe.
1214 Vine St.Cincinnati, OH 45202
Abigail Street’s menu takes inspiration from all over, but it fits easily into the new Vine Street scene. The wine bar takes one half of the room and the tables nestle up to a long bench on the opposite wall, with room enough for one plaid-clad waiter to fit between each one. It isn’t quite a cheap night out but as long as you go with people who don’t mind your fork in their plate every few minutes, you will have plenty of delicious things to try. The wine on tap came from closer to home, but still an adventure and international wine loyalists still have an extensive list of bottles to choose from.
2038 Madison RoadCincinnati, OH 45208
The new Italian wine bar and restaurant taking over the space that was the Brickyard, and most recently Balboas in OBryonville is now open. They're open for lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch and private parties in the wine room. The menu features the cuisine of Emilia-Romagna, one of the best-known food areas of Italy. Includes house-made pasta, spiedini (skewered meat and seafood), flatbread sandwiches called piadina and meats and cheeses from Parma and Bologna.
900 Main St.Milford, OH 45150
Neighborhood: Miami Township/Miamiville
The casual dining restaurant is subtitled "A Grub Shack" by its owners Tim Bettinson and Margo Schwarberg to emphasize the come-as-you-are feel they hope to project. They began work remodeling the former Friendly's building in February of 2010. It now seats about 140, with a bar area. The menu includes burgers, big salads, small steaks, grilled chicken, a blackened meatloaf, and a fish of the day. The highest item on the menu is a 14-ounce ribeye at $19.99, with some burgers and sandwiches in the $6.50-$8 range.
522 Main St.Covington, KY 41011
Keeping things simple, clean and organic is the mantra of this gourmet burrito shop in Main Strasse. Gina Puopolo and her husband have remodeled the former La Cherie bakery and will be using grass-fed beef and natural meat. Mr. Puopolo has created a hydroponic garden in the basement to grow tomatoes, cucumbers and the peppers for the homemade salsas. Catering is also available.
1140 Congress Ave.Cincinnati, OH 45246
New restaurant now open in the former location of Glendale Gaslight Cafe. Features a menu the owner and chef describes as contemporary American food with a fresh twist. Steak, seafood and specialty sandwiches are served, as well as salads, dessert and appetizers such as stuffed mushrooms and steamed mussels.
1135 Vine St.Cincinnati, OH 45202
Neighborhood: Over-the-Rhine & Pendleton
Taste of Belgium, known for its waffles, has opened up a new Belgian bistro. The Vine Street caf serves sweet and savory crepes, salads, baguette sandwiches, and Belgian-style entrees. And of course waffles, in the dessert and entree sections of the menu, as well as pastries and espresso drinks. The bistro now offers dinner as well, with moules-frites and carbonnade and other Belgian classics. You can also now grab a drink from the full bar, including a selection of Belgian beers on tap.
10667 Loveland-Madeira RoadLoveland, OH 45140
Zab means spicy and hot. The menu includes some traditional Thai dishes that don’t usually make it on to American-Thai menus, along with some modern takes on Thai. It’s casual and family-oriented. There are many of the traditional stir-fries and curry dishes, but also salads and specialties: tum som hua pak kard and moo yang, or rutabaga salad and grilled pork with a chili-garlic-lime dressing.
Last year's winner
1212 Vine St.Cincinnati, OH 45202
Senate is junk food nirvana. It’s a place where they put fried eggs on the hot dogs and sizzle the french fries in duck fat, and you just sit there with your big glass of Belgian beer and scarf it all down.