Friday, June 10, 2011

Fun Playing With Pasta in Solon

Something new has been added to Solon's main drag, with the opening of Dino's of Solon in the old Anthony's/Blue Fig/Lu-Lu's spot at 6372 Som Center Rd, Solon, OH 44139. Dino's is the latest installment of a small, locally owned group of restaurants/caterers based in Willoughby. Dino's relies on a fairly standard Italian-American-Red Sauce type menu. If this is what you crave, you will also find plenty of old-fashioned touches and quality ingredients prepared well and served with a smile. The website for the Solon restaurant isn't fully operational yet, but may be found here.

Bob and I wandered in Thursday evening, which turned out to be only their second day in operation. The space is bright and airy, and the smaller front dining room is ideal for those with mobility issues. The tables were mostly occupied when we arrived a bit before 7pm; a line for tables formed shortly after we were seated. There were a few small service hiccups, but nothing I wouldn't expect from a restaurant in its second service. 

We were started with a basket of warm rolls. Though the menu says they are made in house, they struck us as the pre-fab brown and serve variety - but still nice. 

We both opted for pasta; each entree would be preceded by salad.

House-made Vinaigrette

We loved this dressing - redolent with fresh herbiness and perfect balance among the components.

Two elements raised this salad above what I'd normally expect in a place like Dino's - first, it wasn't chilled to Mister Freeze temperature and second, the lettuce was actual head lettuce that had been washed and torn to make salad, not poured out of a food service bag. You can see it and taste it, and my question to the FOH person who stopped by to check on us confirmed it (she said her mother, one of the owners, is on a mission to eliminate bagged salad from the face of the earth, to which I say, bravo!).

The menu describes two types of house-made pasta - spaghetti (which I do not believe is the default for side orders; spaghetti is also listed twice as an entree, with the house-made at a slightly higher price-point than the dried) and cavatelli. I asked our server - which do I want? She recommended the cavatelli.


This was Bob's entree.  The menu does not tell you that the pasta sheets in the lasagna are fresh pasta and not dried - but fresh pasta it is! This is a straight-ahead version of the classic, topped with just the right amount of house-made sauce. The only criticism we had of this dish (and mine as well) was a bit of blandness to it - it wanted some salt and pepper, or other seasoning, to wake it up a bit. Dino's does offer an optional garlic-marinara sauce; we need to try that next time. The default tomato sauce is a family recipe that is made in-house.

Cavatelli with One Meatball

My dinner likewise lacked seasoning, but the freshness of the components jumped right off of the plate. The house-made pasta was cooked to the perfect level of doneness, and the flavors of pork, veal and beef shone clearly through the meatball, without fillers to block their way. As you can see, Dino's does not over-sauce their pasta dishes as so many other places do. Overall, Bob and I enjoyed playing with Dino's food and we will return to play some more (I need to try the pizza). Dino's is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, at very modest prices. The space is very casual and friendly, with a full bar and outside dining also available. Welcome to Solon, Dino's!

1 comment:

  1. Growing up eating fresh homemade pasta every day, I'm always looking for a new place in Cleveland to try to fill me up with fresh pasta! Great write up, and I hope to get there soon!