We love a good brunch as much as the next guy.Still, it's hard to find a breakfast and lunch joint that can hold its own at the top of any serious culinary list. Enter Dante Boccuzzi's casual Italian concept Next Door (located next to his restaurants Dante and Ginko in Tremont).
While it's only been open a year, Next Door already has a wood-fired place in our hearts as a go-to for the occasional celebratory lunch — and the more-frequent weekend hangover cure. The reason for such loyalty lies in its symbiotic relationship with Dante's other restaurants.
"There's definitely a lot of cross-utilization, to use a kitchen term," says Boccuzzi. "They're all working together — each concept enhances each other."
It's a challenge to own three venues so close to one another without creating competition for yourself or boring customers. But Next Door manages to pull from the best of Boccuzzi while giving diners a more laid-back experience than Ginko's swanky sushi bar vibe and Dante's modern American approach.
It means that on a lunch visit, you can get Dante's staple pappardelle alla Bolognese ($10 half/$16 full) or a casual side of caramelized Brussels sprouts ($6).
Boccuzzi creates a soulful harmony by filling the brunch menu with traditional eggs Benedict ($10) and creative, Italian-leaning dishes such as the occhio di bue ($11) with braised tomatoes, chickpeas, braised greens and golden breadcrumbs baked in one of two custom wood-fired oven for more than a hint of umami smokiness.
His amore for Italian cuisine, something he honed during his days as an apprentice to Michelin three-star Italian chef Gualtiero Marchesi, is on full display at Next Door. Those custom ovens also churn out a dozen or so pizza varieties. But we're not talking your standard pepperoni version here.
Playful options include the everything bagel and lox pizza ($16) with house-cured salmon, hard-boiled egg, capers, red onions, cream cheese and dill. Boccuzzi's personal favorite, the Frankie ($14), combines his knack for pasta and obsession with pizza. Baked with house-made spaghetti and meatballs, it's a study in desperate leftover genius.
"That's a signature dish that's not going to go away," Boccuzzi says. 2247 Professor Ave., Cleveland, 216-274-1201, nextdoor.danteboccuzzi.com
Try This ⇨The pasta carbonara frittata ($12) is a tasty mashup of breakfast and lunch with pancetta and Parmesan baked into fluffy eggs.