Al Dente

21 Nov

My friends who live in Columbus talk about Columbus the way I talk about Cleveland.  Endearingly, boastingly… dare I say, obsessively.  One of the places that they bragged about so much was a place called Piada Italian Street Food.  Piada is to Italian as Chipotle is to Mexican – a restaurant that falls into the new-ish category of “fast-casual” food.  About this time last year, I caught wind that a Piada was opening up in our area – so naturally I went and checked it out.  Located in Rocky River (they also have a Beachwood and South Euclid location in NEO), the place was about the size of a normal Chipotle, with the same feel and set up – you walk up to the counter and order from three options – piada, salad, or pasta – then add your choice of protein, sauce, cheese and vegetable toppings.  In addition, they had a few soups and extras on their menu.

For my first divine Piada experience I decided to bypass the namesake piada and go with a pasta bowl.  The bowl starts out with garlicky angel hair pasta and I had it topped with salmon and diavolo sauce.  The salmon took a few minutes longer, but was well worth the wait as it was prepared fresh on the grill as I waited.  The fresh vegetables that top the pasta seem like an interesting mix, but only add to the fresh and robust taste of the meal. The portions were huge – the regular size lasted me for two additional meals.  I shouldn’t have also ordered soup, but I couldn’t resist getting a cup of the lobster bisque which is on their regular menu.  In a word – it was delicious.  Well worth the hype.

Obviously, after that glorious meal (s) – I had to come back for more – besides the pasta, I’ve tried the tasty grilled piada and the fresh, crisp salads – all with the option of grilled or crispy Parmesan chicken, grilled steak, Italian sausage, calamari or salmon.  Sauces come next down the line - pomodoro, diavolo (spicy) or parmesan alfredo for the pasta, as well as numerous cold sauces and delicious dressing with any topping imaginable including artichokes, olives, cucumbers, mushrooms, spicy peppers, sundried tomatoes, and different kinds of cheeses including feta and mozzarella.

Why I bring up the deliciousness that is Piada now?  Well, a few days ago, a friend snapchatted me a photo of her Piada pasta, which led to me tweeting my jealousy to her, tagging @mypiada.  In response, the genius behind @mypiada then proceeded to tease us by tweeting some scrumptious Piada creations right back to us.

— Diana Prodan (@Diapro14) November 18, 2014

Yes, I now feel like I’m besties with Piada’s twitter page.  They’re obviously good at marketing to my love of food.  So naturally, that evening dinner consisted of me trekking to Rocky River to pick up my own bowl of Crispy Chicken Fritte pasta with parmesan alfredo sauce.   Best of all – it’s reasonably priced – a regular sized bowl set me back about $8.

FullSizeRender (1)

Yes, it was as good as it sounds and even better than it looks.

Yes, you should go get it.

Check it out here:

19925 Center Ridge Rd
Rocky River, OH
(440) 333-1530
Follow: @mypiada so you can be besties too


14 Nov

Oh hey snow, nice of you to show up, but you’re a little early.  It’s still supposed to be fall.

What's this white stuff?

Go home Mother Nature, you’re drunk. (Photo courtesy of Dereck)


10 Nov

A few weeks ago, our city became just a touch more magical and happy with the opening of the Hofbräuhaus Cleveland in the Playhouse district.

The first time I walked into the building on Chester Avenue was the night of the soft opening in October.  The place was packed to capacity with a long line out the door and the outdoor beer garden hopping on a cool fall night.  After a quick wait to get in, I met up with my friends who were seated at a long table with a bunch of strangers.  Everyone was a few beers in, singing along to all the German songs and clinking and shouting “Prost!” at anyone and everyone.  It’s pretty much Octoberfest every day – even the servers are in dirndl and lederhosen - and atmosphere immediately sucks you in.  Before you know it, you’re up on a bench and dancing along to the polka band with your new tablemates/best friends.

Now for the beer.  I’ll be honest – beer isn’t usually my beverage of choice when I’m out with friends… but who can resist at a place like this?  I didn’t regret it.  My favorite is the Premium Lager, tasty and smooth, but the Dunkel was the favorite of the table with it’s slightly hoppier flavor.  (Hoppier is a thing, don’t judge).  The beer is all imported from Munich, Germany and adheres to Bavarian purity laws – water, malt, hops and yeast.

If beer isn’t your thing, the schnitzel I had was twice the size of my face and served with homemade mashed potatoes – delicious.  Pretzel girls walk around all evening for a quick fix.

I’m a little bit addicted – I’ve visited my new favorite Bavarian party spot many a times since opening night.  It seems like all of Cleveland has discovered the awesomeness of Hofbräuhaus – every time I come it gets busier and busier – which is awesome!  It is exciting to see all the new successful businesses in Cleveland.  I even went for lunch once, which happened to be much quieter – mostly an older crowd mixed in with some business lunches.  The service was fast and we were serenaded by an accordionist throughout lunch.  The evenings is where it’s at.  If you’re looking for the party in Cleveland, check out Hofbräuhaus. They don’t take reservations yet, so my only suggestion is to arrive early and with your whole group, otherwise everyone will have to wait separately and it is difficult to be seated together.

See you all at the Hofbräuhaus soon – in the meantime - PROST!

Pictures don't do this beer justice

Pictures don’t do this beer justice

Go Here Now:

Hofbräuhaus Cleveland
1550 Chester Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114

216-621-BEER (2337)

Hours of Operation
Monday-Thursday: 11:00am-12:00 am
Friday-Saturday: 11:00am- 2:00 am
Sunday: 11am-9pm

…is this thing on?

7 Nov

Well,  this is embarrassing.  Turns out I have a blog.  A blog that I abandoned a few years ago, then I proceeded to forget the password to and basically forget about all together.  I feel like a terrible person, like  I  abandoned my child in the supermarket or something.  So here I am, on this random Friday, frantically running back in the store all frazzled and searching for my password.  I found it guys.  We’re all home and safe and sound.

As for life… things have changed, things have stayed the same… it’s not a fresh start but a renewed one.  Here’s a recap of the past… well two years or so.  So that Ukrainian Dance Ensemble that I always spoke so highly and frequently of?  I’m now the Artistic Director.  Oooh fancy title, but what does it mean?  Well… basically I’m a slave to my studio. Just kidding, I love it.  Three times a week, after my big kid job, I haul over to the fair city of Parma and teach all my lovely students how to Ukrainian dance.  On top of that just about every weekend, we get together and perform at a wedding/festival/event.  I love it.  I wouldn’t trade in my time with these yahoos for anything in the world:

Wedding Photo Booth Fun

Wedding Photo Booth Fun


Performance in Chicago

Performance in Chicago

We work hard and play harder, and our school has easily doubled in the past two years, which means we are now inundated with a bunch of little, wild and fun Ukrainian dancers… and it’s awesome and exhausting all at once… and seriously the most gratifying, enjoyable and cherished thing I do.


2014 Kashtan Ukrainian Dance Ensemble End of Year Concert

So obviously that’s one of the biggies in my life.  I could probably talk about it for days.  I won’t, no worries.

On to the more boring stuff.  You know, the big kid job.  I have one.  I’m super grateful.  Blah, blah.

Just kidding.  Here’s the story.  So I was an employee of one part of the city of Cleveland for over 7 years, and recently… like in the past month or so… I’ve moved to a different department.  It’s kind of exciting.  I love change.  Not pennies and dimes and stuff, I don’t particularly like those… they makes my wallet super heavy.  I mean life changes.  I feel like I need constant change in my life to be happy.  Not major changes… obviously I stayed with the same employer for the better part of a decade.  Small, positive changes, constant challenges, something new and fresh to keep me going – that’s what I thrive on.  So this recent employer change has me feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. So bring it on world… I’m ready!




13 Mar

ImageSo I’ve never been the most athletic person growing up.  Sure I danced all my life, and I played soccer for a while… and I’ll admit… I was one of the stars of our elementary school’s girls’ CYO basketball team.  By star, I mean I only made one basket in my whole career and the team only won one game in the season.  STAR! I did host the majority of the (fake) team tea parties during practice though. The feminist movement at its best.  Anyway… my lack of athleticism finally caught up with my metabolism, and the whole desk job thing has never been much help in that department.  So I went searching high and low for the solution. I’ve done it all: 

- Experiment #1: Joining a gym. 

Moderately successful, but short lived.  I tried Bally’s, which was great, until I moved to Tremont and it was too far to drive.  I also tried Planet Fitness in Rocky River, which I loved, but again with the distance thing… that quickly got old too.  

- Experiment #2: Jazzercise/Water aerobics classes

Hilariously successful, yet again short lived.  I took classes at both the Parma Community Center as well as the Middleburg Hts. Rec.  I made lots of new friends, none of which were under the age of 70.  Quite amusing, yet got old quick. Ha.  Old.. Get it?  

Experiment #3: Running in Lincoln Park.  

Epic Fail.  Somehow, I didn’t take Cleveland’s ridiculous weather into consideration.  Cleveland is really freaking cold for a good chunk out of the year.  Not to mention, when it’s not cold it is either pouring rain or sweltering muggy hotness.  

So that all happened.  And none of it worked.  So one day, I was walking around the neighborhood and strolled by a building that I’ve passed tons of times and always meant to look into further, but never followed through.  Right at the corner of my street is this wonderful little yoga studio called Studio 11.   When I finally checked it out, I found out that they had a great special for new students – three weeks of unlimited classes for $33.  So here I was, at this crossroads – I can’t argue with the price, the location is down the street so I can’t use the “too far” excuse, classes are at a reasonable time… I had no choice.  So in December I took my first step into Studio 11. 

So I figured Studio 11 would be like every other athletic project I’ve ever taken on… try it a few weeks, like it enough, but get bored and drop it.  Then… I fell in love.  Now, I’ve always enjoyed yoga for the most part, but every class I took made me feel like I wasn’t good enough – I couldn’t bend far enough, I couldn’t balance long enough, I couldn’t ohm loud enough.  Studio 11 is the first yoga studio that I’ve come across that changed my outlook.

There is no yoga snobbery here.  Led by owner/director Tiiu Gennert and a wonderful teaching staff, every student – beginner or pro – is welcomed and every new pose is shown or explained by the teacher without any judgement.  I haven’t been able to resist renewing my membership card every month ever since.  In fact, when I sprained a ligament at dance class and had to miss 2 weeks of yoga – I even MISSED it!  That’s saying a lot for this athletic commitment-phobe.  

I’m big on sharing my opinions, and I’m even more happy to share my opinions on something that I’ve had a great experience with, so I would encourage anyone with even an inkling of interest in yoga to try this place out.  The teachers are wonderful and, while you never think you’re working too hard, the burn the next day tells you otherwise – which is awesome!   But, in the famous words of LeVar Burton, “You don’t have to take my word for it!” – Check out the fabulousness of a class at Studio 11 yourself: 

Studio 11, Lemko Hall Building, 2337 West 11th Street, Cleveland, OH  44113

Studio 11 Facebook

Give a Little Bit…

9 Nov

Flash mobs have been all the rage for the past few years.  I mean, what’s not to like?  You learn some funky steps on the internet, then show up at a  location at a designated time and everyone busts into jolly dancing happiness.  Last Christmas season, the Westside Market was bombarded by people who came out to participate in the Hallelujah Chorus flash mob – the video will almost bring a tear to your eye, so cute.  The beauty of social media and bringing complete strangers together.  True, flash mobs have gotten a bad rap in the past few months with the Machine Gun Kelly Flashmob where he tweeted for his fans to come out to South Park mall and “rage”.  Or the incident at the Coventry Street Fair in June where teenagers came out in droves and ran around screaming and scaring families.  It’s a terrible thing when people (hoodlums) take a fun idea and use it to hurt people and businesses.

Enter the innovators at Cleveland Bridge Builders.  They say, forget Flash Mobs – let’s organize Cash Mobs.  This new venture into social media, takes a silly little idea like a flash mob and evolves it into a great investment into our neighborhoods.  The basic idea of Cash Mobs is to help small businesses in this rough economy.  How?  In essence, the group will flash mob a business – a time will be set up for people to go into a business and spend their money, all at the same time, to quickly invigorate the business.  The idea will also help the business in the long run by getting the name of the business and the products out into the community.  Awesome, right?  I came across this plan here and I thought this idea was too cool not to share with everyone.


Cash Mobs Basics: 

1)    The mob must be announced a week in advance via Twitter; the specific location will be announced six hours before the cashmob will take place.

2)    The general location will be announced, but not the specific business to support.

3)    The amount to spend will not be above $20, although people can spend more if they wish.

4)    The business must have products for both men and women.

5)    The business must be locally owned.

6)    The business owner must give back to the community in some way.

7)    The business owner must approve the CashMob before the mob is announced.

8)    The business must be within one block of a watering hole.

9)    Cash Mobbers must join us for celebratory drinks after the successful mob.

10) The cash mob will occur during the evening on a weekday or on a weekend.

11) Pictures will be posted to the blog after the CashMob.

12) Parking must be available.


For more information on Cash Mobs – check out their blog at or follow them on Twitter – @cashmobs.

Spread the word and support our local businesses  -  see you at the first Cash Mob – November 16, 6pm!

Roll Out the Barrell

27 Oct

On a scale of Über-lameo to totally awesome, I can’t see Polka being too high on many people’s list. When the average person hears the word polka, I imagine they have nightmares about that one stupid public access station that constantly plays a video of a bunch of old people trotting along to some strange dude in lederhosen playing accordion music.  Probably this song.  Waddup, Lawrence Welk!

Two comments on that way of thinking.  Number 1, ummm… do you dare call yourself a Clevelander?  Hello… does the name Frankie Yankovic ring a bell?  You know, only America’s Polka King who was born and raised here in NE Ohio.  Duh.  And more importantly – number 2 – it is sadly obvious that these people have never heard of the magical awesomeness that is DJ Kishka.  “Egads,”  you say,  “What a travesty!”  Agreed, my friend, agreed.

It was not too long ago that I had my first DJ Kishka experience, and it was life-altering to say the least.  I mean, I’ve never been one to shy away from my foreignness, let’s be honest.  This guy, however, put’s my polka knowledge to shame.  His vast collection of polka music from all over Eastern Europe would make my grandmother cry.

Who is DJ Kishka?  No question about it, Kishka is a polka slinging, fedora wearing, bearded enigma.  But there’s no doubt he has found a place in the hearts of Clevelanders when he packs the Happy Dog full of toe tapping fans at his monthly Polka Happy Hour.  From 6-9pm on the last Friday of the month, Kishka busts out only the best old-school polka records that have been part of Cleveland’s culture since our grandparents and great-grandparents came off the boat.  If you’re not sold yet, don’t take my word for it.  Scene Magazine’s Best of Cleveland voted  DJ Kishka the Best Club DJ in 2010.

Still not convinced to come out to Polka Happy Hour this Friday?   Maybe these gorgeous ladies – the Zorya Ukrainian Female Vocal Ensemble –  can convince you:

Hellooo Ladies...

Zorya, which means star in Ukrainian,  is an a capella vocal ensemble based in Parma and has been singing together since 2007.  The group has TweetedFacebooked and sang their way throughout Ohio and the East Coast specializing in Ukrainian traditional folk songs.  One of my favorite songs is about a chick who blows off this guy that’s hitting on her, then asks him to find a doctor, but not one that heals people but one that kisses well.  Bam!  Us Ukrainian chicks have our priorities straight.  Oh, and because I am not embarrassed to excessively self promote, I’m in the group.  That’s me up front, HI!

ANYWAY, if you don’t have plans tomorrow, come on by to the Happy Dog.  If you do have plans, cancel them and make sure to stop by and say hello to DJ Kishka and the Zorya Girls!

Ladies and gentlemen, bust out those white socks and sandles, embrace the perogie and join us for a great show tomorrow!

DJ Kishka’s Polka Happy Hour,
featuring the Zorya Ukrainian Female Vocal Ensemble

Friday, October 28th from 6pm-9pm
@ the Happy Dog, at W. 58th Street and Detroit Avenue


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