Who:  Dana C. Crawford, PhD

What:  Marotta's

Where:  2289 Lee Road, Cleveland, OH 44118

Figure.  Marotta’s bresaola.  From the menu: “thinly sliced air cured beef with fresh arugula and shaved parmigiano reggiano 12.”

Figure. Marotta’s bresaola. From the menu: “thinly sliced air cured beef with fresh arugula and shaved parmigiano reggiano 12.”

My husband Steve and I were on the eve of a big trip, so we were looking a for a good, quick dinner nearby our house in Cleveland Heights. Lee Road is an excellent place to find a bite to eat. The location is close to our house and offers a diverse array of dining. Steve, in fact, has taken it upon himself to sample all restaurants up and down the road (he works from home and is always looking for a good lunch spot).

On this night, we chose a small Italian restaurant named Marotta’s. Marotta’s is locally owned and operated and is a member of Cleveland Independents. As one might expect from an Italian restaurant, Marotta’s serves Italian fare and boasts an Italian-only wine list. The restaurant does not take reservations, which is curious since it is tiny. Marotta’s has a new patio space in the back, but it’s closed for the winter.

As I mentioned earlier, we were looking for a good, quick meal since we had to pack that night for our trip the next day. In the end, the meal was good, but certainly not quick. We were lucky to have been seated right away given the shortage of seating and the fact it was Thursday night. Despite the quick seating, we found the service to be quite slow. Steve noted that there was only one waiter and one food runner, and the hostess was also the bartender. Steve ordered a cocktail and watched the hostess/bartender make it and then place it on the bar for pickup and delivery. It was 15-20 minutes before the cocktail was delivered to the table. Steve then made a game out of timing cocktail delivery for subsequent orders from other tables.

When the food finally arrived, we found it to be good. We started with bresaola (cured beef!; Figure) and bread with olive oil. I had the shrimp gremolata, and I think Steve had the puttanesca (we both like anchovies, so we were curious about this spaghetti). The portions were big, so we took more than half of the entrees home with us for lunch the next day.

There are many good if not excellent Italian restaurants in Cleveland, so I am hard-pressed to recommend that you should go out of your way to visit Marotta’s. However, if you are in the area, you have time, and there’s a seat available, you could be doing much worse. For those of us that live nearby, we noticed that night that Marotta’s also offers take-out. A fancy pizza from Marotta’s may be in my near future…


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Dana Crawford

Professor of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences and Associate Director of the Cleveland Institute for Computational Biology, with interest in pharmacogenomics, electronic health records, and diverse populations. Also, an avid foodie!