Move over Ohio City and Tremont, there’s a new foodie hot spot. Strongsville might not be your first thought for a mouthwatering meal, but the recent openings of Bar Louie, Brew Garden and the Rail are making the burgeoning suburb a destination for more than SouthPark Mall. “There are definitely people that like to experiment and try new food,” says Brent Painter, the city’s director of economic development. We’re betting a TGI Fridays gift card you’re among them, so check out the renovated 10,900-square-foot Westwood Commons plaza at Pearl Road and Westwood Drive, which ups the town’s grub game with options from a grilled cheese fast-casual spot to an upscale sit-down restaurant.
1) Pita Pit: Relive your college days at this healthy stop that’s settling into the suburbs. “There’s a Pita Pit at pretty much every [Mid-American Conference] school in Ohio,” says owner Brian Borcziak. “It’s fun to see people come in and walk down memory lane.” Try It: The Chicken Souvlaki ($7.59) mixes choose-your-own vegetables with a Mediterranean seasoned, dark chicken that’s grilled on the spot. 13309 Pearl Road, 440-268-8677, pitapitusa.com
2) Master Pizza: This local pizzeria, which started in 1955 in Mayfield Heights, continues to toss its award-winning pies at a new Strongsville location. “A lot of people have that memory of the old-school pizzeria, with the old-school tabletop games,” says president Jeremy Galvin. Try It: The large pepperoni passion pizza ($17.99) places two types of pepperoni — one lays flat and the other curls resulting in a char-grilled rim — on a melted pile of provolone. 13311 Pearl Road, 440-876-8777, masterpizza.com
3) Tom and Chee: The more than 15 grilled cheese options — including vegan and gluten-free — at this cheese-colored store caters to the picky kid in us. “People have different palates, and I’m excited that we can give them just what they’re looking for,” says co-owner Colleen Franklin. Try It: The original grilled cheese doughnut ($3.95) satiates sweet and salty cravings by melting sharp Wisconsin cheddar onto a glazed doughnut. 13359 Pearl Road, 440-783-1699, tomandchee.com
4) Hot Head Burritos: The secret is in the sauce at this fast-casual Mexican restaurant. Slather on a combination of Hot Head’s 10 sauces to give your meal the right amount of garlicky sweetness or snivel-worthy spice. “You make your own spice level and build your own creation,” says co-owner Brian Spence. Try It: Add creamy queso to a grilled five-star-fold quesadilla ($7.10) stuffed with marinated chicken. 13405 Pearl Road, 440-268-8588, hotheadburritos.com
5) Nothing Bundt Cakes-Coming Soon: When the bakery chain makes its Cleveland debut in the spring, customers can choose from 10 flavors and hundreds of cake designs. “This is bar none the best cake we’ve ever had,” says local co-owner Liz Rowan. “It’s a really simple concept but leaves a lasting impression.” 13433 Pearl Road, nothingbundtcakes.com
6) Square 22: This restaurant boasts a downtown flair with metal garage doors, repurposed wood bar and trendy choices such as an ahi tuna poke appetizer and a New England lobster roll. “It’s as approachable as you want it to be,” says managing partner Danny Stroemple. “But it is upscale food in an urban vibe.” Try It: The Rust Belt Frites ($9) are a messy appetizer of pork belly swamped in gravy and topped with a fried egg and cheese curds. 13485 Pearl Road, 440-268-8322, thesquare22.com