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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Russo's Kitchen

Place:  Russo’s Kitchen
Location:  4895 State Road 
Peninsula, OH 44264 Google Maps 

Quick Blurb:
Russo’s is quickly becoming one of our favourite places to visit. Specializing in Italian-Creole “soul food”, Russo’s prides itself on its fresh seafood dishes and authentic flavours. Come with at least another person and share the appetizers!


There isn’t much to the place. It’s located next to one of the multiple motels on State Road and inside it looks like an ordinary diner. Seating is made up of mainly booths, only a few tables (I’m a table fan), and a bar where you can sit and enjoy the cooking action - I really enjoy sitting here.

I’ve read some negative reviews on-line about the staff and I’m not really sure what they are based upon. Each time we’ve visited Russo’s we have not had a reservation – and each time the staff was happy to find us a table or allow us to sit at the bar. Our waiters have been overly friendly, prompt service while also allowing you the time to enjoy your meals (they don’t bring out your main dish when you’re still enjoying your appetizer – this is one thing that really annoys me at most places).


On our recent visit, we chose from their daily specials menu:

Tempura fried local squash blossoms filled with chevre, ricotta, lemon zest, fresh herbs & pine nuts, served with lemon garlic butter sauce.

Dave’s famous Lafaytte skillet fondue with sweet corn, roasted red bell peppers & jumbo lump crabmeat served with French bread crostini.

Ok, so both of these dishes were amazing. The stuffed blossoms combined goat cheese tartness, citrus and creamy ricotta to provide a taste the reminded me of cheese croquettes back in Belgium. The lemon garlic sauce was runny, not creamy and paired nicely, albeit a little too salty for my liking.

The skillet fondue is something that I’ll be dreaming about for a few days: Rich and creamy sauce, big chunks of crabmeat, a great level of sweetness from both the peppers and corn. The combination was simply amazing. The crostini were drizzled in some olive oil, had a great crunch and were sliced nice and thin. We ran out of crostini – not a problem – our waitress gladly provided us with some more. I highly recommend this if you see it on the menu.

My wife went for the chicken fried steak again. I have to admit, it is really, really good. If you’re a fan of chicken fried steak, get it here. I nicked a piece from her the first time we came and was impressed; it almost made me want to get it myself. The home-style (not perfectly whipped, had some chunks) mashed potatoes and gravy topped it off.

Who thought chicken fried steak could be so colourful?
I am glad that I ordered the soft-shell crab though. Oh my. Partnered with some fried green tomatoes and more jumbo lump crabmeat on the side made me more than happy with my choice. I was a little hesitant on the soft-shell crab – I thought it was a little too late in the season. But, our waitress assured me they were still good to eat and I can attest that she tells the truth! The tartness of the green tomatoes balanced the saltiness of the breading. Add in the sweet crabmeat and you have a nice triangle of flavours.

Presentation was very cool - the vegetable "hair" and sitting a top of a pedestal of fried green tomatoes

We’re always too full to even entertain the idea – but I’m not a sweet tooth, so this is ok with me!

They make some mean martinis – similar to Moe’s. They have a small draft beer selection, but you have some great beers to choose from.

Both times, it cost us over $100 for the two of us. This included two martinis and two beers, two appetizers and two entrees. Some may think that it is a bit much, and I appreciate that, but in my opinion, you are definitely getting your money’s worth.

Overall Experience:
Two wonderful visits here and I’m positive there are more to come. The only complaint so far is that one dish’s sauce was a little too salty, but then again, I’m not a salt fan. Everything else has exceeded our expectations that were falsely made by reading negative reviews online; which are precisely why I started reviewing restaurants myself. I highly recommend trying Russo’s – and when you do, get a dish that has the Louisiana Crawfish sauce – as the expression says, “It’s to die for”.

Russo's on Urbanspoon

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