Go out of town for a day, and everything is different. Sadly different in this case. For many years, the Baricelli Inn in Cleveland's Little Italy district has been named the top restaurant in Northeast Ohio in just about every rating guide that counts. Owner/chef Paul Minnillo took many aspects of fine dining to extremes, even choosing to make and cure his own cheeses and Italian sausages. But dinner on July 10 will be the last under that ownership and name in the 1896 vintage inn.
Minnillo told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the main reason for the closing, in his opinion, is that people in Northeast Ohio no longer appreciate the true fine dining experience. By that, he means the multi-course evening-long event at destination restaurants. I don't agree, and I hope you don't either, but Minnillo is moving on to the suburbs, and a more moderately-priced Italian grille in Moreland Hills that he will call Flour.
In the meantime, another "moderately-priced" American comfort food bistro, which will be called Washington Place, will move into the Baricelli building this fall, sans the overnight guest rooms. One of the few non-Italian spots in the neighborhood, it will be operated by Scott Kuhn, who owns similar places in Burton, Westlake, and Pennsylvania.
I hope other Akronites besides me have had the opportunity to experience the Baricelli; it truly deserved its rankings. If only it had been closer, I might have been one of those who got there more than two or three times a year. And Minnillo says it is the people who only came a few times, versus those who come two or three times a month, who eventually forced the Inn to end its run. I guess we should keep that in mind for our local favorites in Akron-Canton!