When you’re ready to ditch the diet and treat yourself, check out these over-the-top creations from local eateries. Savory, sweet, and staggeringly super-sized, these are indulgent dishes taken to the extreme. Get an extra plate and share with a friend, or loosen your belt and go all in.
StowNut Donuts and Diner
[ 3055 Graham Rd., Stow ]
Karen Bellian was a nurse working in a doctor’s office when she got fed up with the “rat race” and decided to make her passion—cooking—her vocation by opening a donut shop. “Food is the way to make people happy,” she says. Now, as the owner of StowNut Donuts and Diner, she says, “It’s a joy to come to work.”
Bellian finds inspiration for new flavors by strolling through the grocery store looking for anything small enough or soft enough to fit on a donut. Noticing how much kids love to have cereal for breakfast, Bellian took a glazed yeast donut, frosted it and dipped it into Trix cereal. She was hoping to appeal to kids, but it seems adults love it the most.
Browsing the concession stand at the movies one day, Bellian was struck by more inspiration. She took everything—licorice, M&Ms, popcorn—threw it on a glazed donut, and The Movie Theater Donut became a hit.
The Buckeye involves mixing peanut butter with buttercream frosting, slathering that on a glazed donut, then drizzling it with chocolate. The ode to the state tree has become the second-most-popular item in the shop.
“I could care less if I ever make a dime,” Bellian says. “But I love to see people leave here with a smile on their face.”
Dan’s Dogs A Hot Dog Eatery
[ 111 W. LIberty St., Medina ]
The St. Bernard first appeared on the menu at Dan’s Dogs in Medina in 1991. “We wanted to name it for a really big dog,” says Paul Davis, current owner and self-proclaimed hot dog enthusiast. Though not their most popular item, this oversized creation is a meal in itself.
“It’s a foot-long half-pound all-Angus beef dog charbroiled to order,” Davis says. “It can be topped any way you like it, but to do the St. Bernard at its fullest is with mustard, house-made chili sauce, onions, relish, cheddar cheese and sauerkraut.”
The 1950s-style eatery just off Medina’s historic square also offers an array of more normal-sized hot dogs with creative, playful names, like the Kraus Van Slaw and the Mac Attack. There are even a couple of breakfast-themed dogs topped with scrambled eggs, proving that hot dogs aren’t just for summer picnic dinners anymore.
If you’re into extremes, give the St. Bernard Challenge a go. “If you eat three St. Bernards in 10 minutes,” Davis says, “your name will go up on our ‘no-shame wall of fame.’ A few friends have done a test run already—and survived.”
Taggarts Ice Cream Parlor and Restaurant
[ 1401 Fulton Rd. N.W., Canton ]
Taggarts has been a Canton staple for most of the 20th century. “We still use all the same recipes as Joe Taggart did,” says Ernie Schott, current owner. “He left in ’58. He was with Taggarts since forever. We’ve had it since 1998.”
Though all the sweet treats on the menu are made from rich, wholesome ingredients right on the premises, one item is a bit more indulgent than the others. And you can tell what you’re getting into by its name.
“The Kitchen Sink is really just an oversized sundae,” Schott says. “It’s got all three flavors of ice cream in it: vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. Then all the toppings go on.”
Certain patrons take this confection very seriously. The Canton Masons use it as part of their initiation for new members. “When a new one joins, [they] come in and eat [one],” Schott says. “They [get] a pin that’s a kitchen sink when they do.”
Another popular menu item harkens back to the store’s beginnings, in the 1930s. Customers wanted something thicker than a milkshake, so the owners obliged by mixing three-quarters of a pound of ice cream with house-made chocolate syrup in a special machine that accommodates the thickness. “[The Bittner] is like a milkshake, but with no milk,” Schott says. Now that’s indulgent.
[ 1700 S. Water St., Kent ]
Not for the faint of heart, the Mighty Stu-anator is a behemoth of a sandwich. Mike Kostensky, owner of Mike’s Place in Kent, takes over 60 ounces of ground beef, cooks it to perfection and crams it into a giant hoagie roll, along with onions, mushrooms, American and Swiss cheese, tomato, ketchup, mustard, and mayo. But he doesn’t stop there. He tops it off with curly fries and at least three pickles.
Several people have completed the “Stu-anator Challenge”—which means eating the entire thing in 30 minutes or less—including a 72-year-old man named Lyle Jenkins on May 8, 2009. “Fewer people over the years go in for the big challenge,” Kostensky says, but it’s still a popular menu item.
The giant sandwich is named for Stuart, a special needs man who came to work at Mike’s two weeks after they opened in 1987 and has been washing dishes there ever since. He walks three miles to work every day and refuses rides from Kostensky and his other colleagues. “Stuart is my favorite and longest employee,” Kostensky says. “He just loves what he does. We name a lot of stuff after him.”
Sugar and Slice
[ 625 Grant st., akron ]
The food industry is in Nick Pamboukis’s genes. Family members own Guiseppe’s, and his step-dad owns Guy’s Party Center. “It’s just a Greek thing, I guess,” he says. “We’re entrepreneurs.”
Pamboukis opened Sugar and Slice on Grant Street in November of 2016—in the same building he owned in 2003 when it was Nico’s Pizza. The shop aims to satisfy customers’ cravings for both savory and sweet, with house-made pizza and donuts.
The Hawaiian Vacation was an original creation of Pamboukis’s good friend, Chef Dick. When Dick moved on to other projects, Pamboukis tweaked it with a different sauce and dough. “We went back to Mom’s and Grandma’s recipes,” he says. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The Sugar and Slice Pie also originated from Chef Dick, but Pamboukis changed it because he didn’t want it to be the same as everyone else’s. He tried a PB&J pizza, but that didn’t work. This Nutella, peanut butter and marshmallow concoction is a sweet treat like no other.
Homemade donuts make up 50 percent of the business at Sugar and Slice. Pamboukis is capitalizing on that with a “build-your-own” option. “If you want Oreos and raspberries on your donut, we’ll do that for you,” he says. “Any way you’d like it.”