HELLO CLEVELAND: Bacon + falafel = peace in the Middle East

So we’re hanging out at Tommy’s Restaurant, this legendary family joint in Coventry Village. This place has one of the biggest menus you’ll find anywhere, serving up sammies, burgers and savoury pies with a side of award-winning fries.

Now, it’s kinda hard to make a decision when the menu is the size of a newspaper, but I had to go with something so funky you won’t find it anywhere else. They call this sandwich Colleen–and she can call me anytime!

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OK, let’s break it down. You’ve got falafel, bacon, cheese, onions, sprouts, tomatoes and green peppers stuffed inside a grilled pita. Now, I’ve had a few falafels in my day, but never before with bacon, bro! This dish is Captain Crunchalicious, and it actually feels like I’m eating healthy, too…

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And then you’ve got the prize-winning fries, named the best spuds in Northeast Ohio, son! The trick here is that they don’t season ’em at all, so they come out chip-shop crispy with all kinds of potatoey goodness. And yes, that full plate is all in one order! I could probably only eat 2 or 3 orders of these…

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HELLO CLEVELAND: Little Italy’s Greatest Eats

Happy Hour in Cleveland is very much a thing, and in Little Italy it means they’re dishing out deep discounts on pizza pies and Peroni beers at Maxi’s Ristorante. You could get the same deal on Bud or Miller Lights, but as they say, when in Rome…pound some Peronis, bro!

It’s hard to pick a pizza when they’re all just 10 bucks, but I went with the meatball pie. You’ve got some beef & pork balls thinly sliced on a nice, crisp crust and two kinds of cheese: mozzarella and provolone. Dude, this pizza is 80’s hair-band cheesy, bro! I could hear the Poison power ballads playing in my head while I scarfed it down.

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And while you could probably feed 2-3 people with a pie this size, you know I slammed it all down, son! What can I say–this is body by pizza, bro!

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Speaking of pizza, one night after an Indians game, I headed down the cobblestone streets of Murray Hill to La Pizzeria, this home style neighbourhood joint that does it up right. Only I wasn’t here for pizza, but for one of their real-deal, Italian-style sub sandwiches.

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Now dude, you can’t really get a really good Italian sub in Toronto. There might be some little place tucked in off St. Clair that I’m not aware of, but you can bet your Bautista bobblehead that Pizza Pizza doesn’t do it up like this! What you’ve got is a garlic bread baguette heated in the pizza oven with melted cheese, sliced roast beef, giant mushrooms, onions and peppers. It may not be big Philly style…but last time I checked, the Phillies were watching the playoffs at home, bro!

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When it comes to Italian breakfast, the place to be in Cleveland is Presti’s Bakery. This place has been serving up fresh-baked goodies ahead of a century, and they’ve been overheard on Mayfield since 1943. Man, this place has everything–brownies, gelato, fresh-baked bread… They even make their own pizza and deli sandwiches, so you could probably eat all three meals there. But for breakfast they’re serving up all sorts of egg and cheese croissant sandwiches that take a huge dump all over Dunkin Donuts, dude!

Of course, I got mine with bacon, because bacon makes the world go round. I washed it down with an iced coffee, cuz hey, I hear it’s hot in Cleveland or something…

HELLO CLEVELAND: Who knew that lambs had ribs?

So, we’re hanging out at Mabel’s BBQ, this funky local joint just a LeBron James buzzer beater away from the home of the Cavs. This place is run by my bro from another mo Michael Symon, and while they ain’t got any burgers, they’re certainly slinging the brews and que. (But let’s face it, that show was a total Triple D ripoff, dude!)

Now we’ve had all kinds of BBQ from all sorts of funky joints all over Toronto, but never before have I seen what I’m about to show you. Now, you know I love lamb, especially when it’s done up Greek style and falls off the bone…but I don’t think I’ve ever seen any place serve up lamb ribs before. I mean, Lamb Chops must not be anorexic, cuz you never see her ribs, bro!

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And these ones were definitely a bit different. They had a nice, lemon peppery dry rub and came served with tangy pickles, spicy sauerkraut, and one single slice of plain white bread, in case your Blues Brother wants to order 4 fried chickens and a coke. This makes for a full meal even without a side of cucumber salad, son!

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Now, I don’t know which one of the 16 beers on tap Symon was drinking when he designed this side dish, but I gotta say, it’s pretty funkalicious. You’ve got cukes and onions smothered in enough tangy dill sauce to tzchoke a tzatziki…and more than enough for an order of lamb ribs. Cuz if there’s one thing that’s a bit of a bummer, there just isn’t very much meat on these bones, bro…

HELLO CLEVELAND: This shark sandwich review is more than two words!

So we’re hanging out at ABC the Tavern Uptown, this funky college dive bar that would be just an (insert sports term) away from Case Western University…cept I don’t think they actually play sports at Case. But man, this place has everything: lamb quesadillas, pork belly BLTs, jerk chicken nachos–and all for less than 10 bucks! What’s more, it’s Happy Hour every day from noon till nine, which means we’re pounding two-fiddy bottles of Labatt Blue like it’s nobody’s business, bro…

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Now, if they had this kinda funky joint back when I was in college, I’d be there every day till they kicked me out. But today, I’m here for that magical, mystical creature of the deep–the legendary shark sandwich:

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Now, as any longtime Spinal Tap fan will tell ya, it was no Smell the Glove, but I think the critics mighta been a little too harsh on that one. ABC is serving it up blackened swordfish style on a bun with lettuce, tomato and a pineapple salsa on the side. The texture is more like chicken, but the Cajun spices add a nice kick. It might not be one of my top seafood sammies, but this ain’t no shit sandwich by any stretch!