CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio — Planning a night out on the town? Looking to impress a hot date or loved one? Tired of hitting the same-old restaurants? In this feature, 3News food expert Doug Trattner lends a hand as he highlights great places to visit in Northeast Ohio.
From temples of fine dining to hole-in-the-wall dives, these places have a few things in common: excellent food, good service, great vibes and local ownership. So pull up a chair, order a beverage, and stay for the fun!
This week, Trattner dragged his reluctant dining colleague Mike Polk Jr. across town to Chagrin Falls. After getting lost just east of the Cuyahoga River, Polk finally landed at JoJo's Backyard, a sister establishment to JoJo's Bar. There, the two luxuriated on the posh patio while enjoying wood-fired foods cooked just feet from the table.
LOCATION: JoJo's Backyard
ADDRESS: 87 3/4 West St, Chagrin Falls
Rick Doody, owner of Cedar Creek Grille, Lindey's Lake House and Bar Italia, recently opened the stunning Italian American steakhouse Jojo's Bar in the former home of Bull and Bird. But apparently, he was saving the best surprise for this summer. Out back, on what had long been home to Gamekeeper's Taverne patio, Doody created a hidden oasis in the heart of Chagrin Falls. More than simply a patio for JoJo's, this lush setting is its own separate restaurant, JoJo's Backyard, complete with an outdoor kitchen and bar.
MENU STYLE: Although a handful of JoJo's Bar dishes are available out back, JoJo's Backyard has its own menu. That menu takes advantage of the impressive wood-fired Argentinian grill prominently featured in the alfresco kitchen. There, skilled grill chefs have an amazing selection of wood-fired items such as steaks, chops, ribs and kebabs.
After sitting down with owner Rick Doody, Polk and Trattner enjoyed charcoal prawns, steak skewers, grilled corn on the cob, and brown sugar-coated grilled pineapple. The two washed it down with refreshing cocktails like the Spicy Strawberry Basil Margarita and a Pineapple Smash.
PRICE RANGE: $$$$ (out of 5 $s)
TOP THREE REASONS TO VISIT:
1. It's safe to say that JoJo's Backyard is one of, if not the, most extravagant patios in Northeast Ohio. Massive umbrellas, a wall of living plants, an outdoor bar and kitchen, and comfortable furniture combine to create a California-in-Chagrin Falls vibe that is tough to top.
2. Any skilled griller will tell you that foods cooked over an open flame taste better. But it's not always easy to get it right. Here, skilled chefs employ an Argentinian wood-fired grill in an open kitchen. From that fiery line come dishes like spice-rubbed prawns, succulent BBQ ribs, and wood-fired strip steaks with truffle butter.
3. The service. Rick Doody, one of the co-founders of Bravo and Brio restaurants, is serious about customer service. All his employees undergo intensive staff training to ensure every guest is treated with care. Guests at all of his restaurants – but especially JoJo's – can expect white-glove service.
CHECK THEM OUT: JoJo's Backyard
More of Doug Trattner's Table for 2 with Mike Polk Jr.: