One perk of the new job that recruiters mentioned but I failed to fully appreciate is the proximity of CWRU to Little Italy. Little Italy is packed with restaurants, cafes, and galleries along with condos and a few free-standing houses. Little Italy, unfortunately, forgot to pack itself with parking spaces, so driving to the area can be a frustrating experience. Fortunately for us in ICB and EPBI, Little Italy and all its comfort food is literally steps away from our ivory towers.
The first restaurant within our reach is Club Isabella, our gateway to historic Little Italy. We hardly make it past this gateway, and we often find ourselves comfortably settling into a booth or table for a tasty meal. Like the United States Post Office, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…” will keep us from lunch, happy hour, or dinner (Figure 1). And, if you do trudge through the snow for a meal, you can always warm up at the fireplace (Figure 2).
Club Isabella is not an Italian restaurant per se, but rather a French-inspired establishment with a penchant for jazz. Club Isabella has been around in some form for more than 30 years and was first opened and owned by Isabelle Basile, the restaurateur who also opened what is now present-day and nearby L’Albatros Brassier and Bar. The original location was apparently bulldozed by University Hospital expansions, and the current location opened in 2011.
And we are glad Club Isabella reopened! Will Bush and I go there often for lunch. The lunch menu ranges from humble salads to juicy burgers, cheesy pizzas, and sophisticated fritattas of the day (Figures 3-5). You just can’t go wrong here.
Of course, since lunch is during working hours, we do not order from the bar. We don’t order from the bar, that is, until happy hour. Club Isabella offers a nice menu of drinks and nosh for happy hour, and we in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics finally trotted over there to check it out (Figure 6).
More recently, Mom and I tried Club Isabella for dinner (Figure 7). I chose Friday night because the restaurant features live music on the weekends. That night, Cliff Habian was there tickling the ivories. Mr. Habian’s repertoire included popular classical pieces, jazz, and pieces from the “Great American Songbook.” Mom loved the live music and Mr. Habian’s choices. At some point, the night turned into “name that tune” between the two of us. Sure, I could name Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” but I couldn’t name everything, especially any of the movie tracks from the 1950s. Concerned, Mom had a chat with Mr. Habian between pieces and informed him that I was in my 40s and that I needed to hear something more contemporary (thanks, Mom). Mr. Habian responded with Pink’s “Just Give Me a Reason.” Nicely done, Mr. Habian, nicely done.
In short, Club Isabella is great for an easy and luxurious-feeling meal within steps of our office. Many of the students and even faculty may groan when we request to dine at Club Isabella only because we frequent the spot so much. You won’t hear that groan from me.