Cincinnati, Ohio is a city that is full of some really great restaurants. One of my top favorite places to eat at when I visit there is Nicola’s Ristorante Italiano.
Located at 1420 Sycamore Street in Cincinnati, Nicola’s is a true gem for the city. The atmosphere of the restaurant is simple, sophisticated and very elegant. In 2009 it was rated number two of Cincinnati’s top 10 restaurants by Cincinnati Magazine.
The ceilings are high vaulted ceilings with chandeliers hanging down from them. The lighting is set to be very dim for a more intimate dining experience. The walls are made from brick and have a few pictures of colorful art hanging on them. There are also bottles of wine and ceramic masks surrounded by grapes hanging on the walls. White table clothed tables are positioned throughout the room topped with dimly lit candle, wine glasses and fine china.
The menu is simply amazing. It is difficult to decide on what to order because everything sounds so good. For appetizers you can chose from items like Jonah Crab served with avocado and orange topped with a citrus dressing, eggplant flan, fava beans, or seared sea scallops with parsnip puree and mushrooms. For drink choices with your meal Nicola’s offers a great variety of different red and white wines from Italy and America ranging from different years.
The pastas here are easily some of the best that I have ever had. They are handmade at the restaurant and the taste will blow your taste buds away. The Tagliolini ai frutti di mare is the dish that I order every time I go here. It is pasta with mussels, shrimp, scallops, calamari and zucchini and is perfect for any seafood lover.
Another one of my favorites is the Crispy Potato Gnocchi. This is pasta with 4 cheese fondue and topped with truffle shavings. They also have a few other pasta choices like Truffle Mascarpone Carnaroli risotto, Trofie, Artichoke filled agnolotti, and Swiss chard and ricotta ravioli.
Other plates that they serve here are Nova Scotia Halibut, Veal Chops, Sea Bass, Monk fish, Rack of Lamb, Filet Mignons, Sea Scallops and a few others. They usually offer a few nightly specials also that you can choose from. All of the plates come out of the kitchen decorated up very fancy. It is a nice place for a romantic date or special birthday or anniversary dinner.
Make sure you save room to share dessert because Nicola’s has an orange rum cake with crème catalana and mascarpone gelato that is to die for! They also serve tiramisu, lemon tart, chocolate fondant, crème brulee, panna cotta, and gelato for dessert.
The prices here are a little expensive ranging from $12-$50 but you receive a good sized portion of food. Unfortunately though, the menu is short and very limited, but there seems to be at least one entrée item for all tastes.
The other bad part is that the neighborhood where the restaurant is located is kind of rundown. There are a few abandoned buildings close by with junk all around it. So I don’t think I would ever want to walk in Nicola’s alone at night. I would recommend using the Valet service for $5. That way you don’t have to walk out to your car in the dark after you are done eating dinner and there really is not too much parking availability close by the restaurant.
So if you are in the Cincinnati area and want to splurge a little on a nice romantic date out, I would recommend Nicola’s. But if you plan on taking the kids with you, I would recommend finding a different place. Nicola’s is not kid friendly for the menu.