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“A Rare Treat”

Nicola's Ristorante
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Ranked #18 of 2,069 Restaurants in Cincinnati
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $25 - $40
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: Liberty Street
Description: Nicola's is located on the corner of East Liberty and Sycamore Street
Reviewed May 16, 2013

Last night, we ate at Nicola's for the first time but it won't be the last. We normally do not eat Italian out of town because Cleveland has outstanding Italian restaurants but we'll be making an exception for this one.

The rustic ambiance is charming and although Nicola's is white tablecloth and attentive service, it is not overbearing. Our waiter was incredibly knowledgeable about the wine list and expertly picked the perfect wine out of the wines that we were thinking about to complement the food.

As soon as we ordered our drinks, we were brought a basket of beautiful, tasty, and different breads. It would have been very easy to fill up on those. Then, before the first course arrived, we each had the Italian equivalent of an amuse-bouche, a toast with a pea and chive puree that was delicious.

Although many of the standard items were on the menu, there were also several that were unique. For the first course, we shared a grilled asparagus with ricotta, black olive, arugula, and a poached egg. It far exceeded our expectations.

Our second course was the risotto with lamb and spring vegetables. We are always reluctant to order risotto because it is usually cooked into submission but decided that it would be excellent here. We were right! Visually we were worried because the rice was covered with a creamy sauce but we could still taste each individual grain which perfectly complemented the rich lamb and the crunchy green vegetables.

We finished the meal with the dessert special, a blackberry pannacotta accompanied by a lemon gelato and a raspberry coulis.

This is not an inexpensive restaurant but it is worth every penny. Dinner with a drink, two glasses of wine, and an espresso was $96 plus tip.

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1  Thank BGTCleveland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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215 - 219 of 303 reviews

Reviewed April 29, 2013

This is our second visit to this restorante. We love the ambiance. We came to celebrate our anniversary. Our waiter who was from Tuscany, brought warm memories of our recent journey to Italy. He was attentive and brought us champagne to celebrate the evening! The menu is similar to menus you would find in Italy. The bread basket had several varieties of tasty morsels. The portions are small but can be shared between two people. This made it nice for sharing many different items on the menu.

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1  Thank Pamela B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 25, 2013

Had dinner at this restaurant for a family birthday party. The appetizers are great and creative and the entrees equally delicious. The assortment of breads with the salad course was fantastic. The service was efficient and attentive.

Thank William B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 18, 2013

Restaurants deserve several chances. Everyone has a bad night.. Unfortunately, Nicola's was not able to prove itself as a worthwhile dining choice in spite of its venerable reputation. Critics love Nicola's, and certainly the restaurant has all the trappings of a marvelous experience; the decor is attractive with its warm Italian rusticity, the location in Cincinnati's hip & gentrifying Over The Rhine neighborhood is very cool, and the service is quite warm & knowledgable. However, ultimately dining is about the food and Nicola's kitchen fails miserably. The pastas, while certainly al dente, are drowning in sauces so cloyingly sweet, I was literally forced to wash my mouth out after each taste. There was nothing memorable from the appetizers to the desserts which were all bland with absolutely no inventiveness. Even the wine list was over priced and incredibly pedestrian. Cincinnati has some marvelous restaurants that can compete with dining establishments throughout the U.S. Why Nicola's is at the top of critic's dining selections is beyond my comprehension. To each his own.......

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2  Thank Philip G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 2, 2013

Been here many times. Best breadbasket of any restaurant in Cincy hands down and competitive with anywhere. Food is terrific although very rich. They do a great job with seafood including fantastic lobster ravioli.

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3  Thank Jabrd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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