Corn smut is Mexican food porn at its finest.

Cincinnati Bites
Enchiladas at Jalapenos Mex-Mex

Posted Friday, March 26, 2010
Note: the following review is for a restaurant that has since closed.

Findlay Market has served as a springboard for a number of area chefs, including Mayberry's Josh Campbell, Katrina "Aunt Flora" Mincy; the Bouchard family; and the Palmieri family. This evening, we visited Jeff and Nick Palmieri's Europa restaurant, located in Covington's MainStrasse Village.

Europa has been open about nine months, serving authentic paninis and crepes; fresh, homemade gelato; huge slices of cakes and desserts; and assorted deli items. Tonight, we'd be surprised to discover that they also have a very extensive dinner menu, updated bi-weekly.

Mainstrasse Village was absolutely bustling on the Friday night we arrived. There were at least a half dozen eateries I'd heard of, had been to or wanted to try in the immediate area. Lots of sidewalk seating gave the area a European feel. Stepping through the door at Europa was a lot like stepping into an Italian gelateria in Rome. Fresh, swirling mounds of gelato beckoned behind a refrigerated glass case.

After the owners told us about the dinner menu, we were led past the gelato and deli counter into an empty back room of about 10 tables. How was it that no one knew of this place? The waiter handed us menus he'd just updated with fresh paper inserts only a few minutes before. He explained that, being the week of St. Patrick's Day, their menu reflected a number of Irish-themed items in addition to their usual Italian fare. Entrees like the Shepherd's Pie, "Danny's Boy" Roasted Leg of Lamb matched the theme. But it was the Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage that particularly caught my eye.

Bruschetta at Europa

We started off with the Bruschetta appetizer, and this wasn't your usual toasted bread with tomatoes on top version you typically find in many restaurants. Europa's included three toasted slices of bread topped with three different types of homemade pesto. They were incredibly good. There was a roasted red pepper pesto; a more traditional basil-based pesto and a third herbed pesto whose origins we could not identify.

I followed up the Bruschetta with a bowl of roasted ham and asparagus soup. The clear, watery broth led me to believe there would be little to no flavor, but I was sorely mistaken. The soup was infused with the salty essence of the ham, complimented smartly with asparagus pieces.

Ham and asparagus soup at Europa

The waiter brought out a basket of warm, fresh bread, which was wonderful. In fact, lots of fresh-baked bread was highlighted throughout the meal, from the basket, to the Bruschetta, to the soda bread that came with my meal.

My girlfriend ordered the vegan Mark Anthony Salad as her entree. Her salad was enormous: it looked like it could easily feed both of us. Asparagus, eggplant, artichokes, roasted red peppers, tomatoes and an olive tapenade were beautifully arranged on a bed of Romaine lettuce and drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette.

Mark Anthony salad at Europa
Irish corned beef and cabbage at Europa

My Irish corned beef and cabbage came with two slices of soda bread encrusted with raisins. The young culinary student who'd prepared my dish stopped by the table to check on us. He was proud of the dish he'd prepared and he should have been: it tasted wonderful. Deceptively simple in preparation, the strips of corned beef had a nice saltiness that balanced the cabbage flavor perfectly. The cheesy, mashed potato cake was a tasty, welcome addition.

Europa's owner would periodically emerge from a door in the rear of the dining room to chat briefly with us, at one time carrying with him a tray stacked high with fresh-baked loaves of ciabatta bread destined to become panini sandwiches at the deli counter up front. We wanted to follow after him and nibble on the bread.

After stuffing ourselves with a pleasing meal and securing our to-go box, we returned to the glass cases up front and tried two of Europa's freshly-made gelato offerings, the blueberry and the snickerdoodle gelato. Both were tasty in their own right; bringing back memories of Italian trips past.

Europa offers a great, revolving dinner option in addition to their many lunchtime panini offerings. If you go, know that your dinner menu will undoubtedly be different from the one we tried. We hope word gets out about this place, because here's another Findlay Market-based restaurateur whose success story should be celebrated.

Europa on Urbanspoon
Europa

Price: Moderately Expensive ($11 - $16 per person)
Service: Good
Rating: 3.5 out of 43.5 stars






Other Recent Reviews

  1. A Pleasant Ridge: Grand Central Delicatessen
    -posted Monday, May 29, 2017
  2. A Lobster Oasis: Court Street Lobster Bar
    -posted Sunday, May 7, 2017
  3. Hole-in-the-Wall Quest: Taqueria San Marcos
    -posted Sunday, April 30, 2017
  4. Schnitzel Impressions: Bauer Farm Kitchen
    -posted Wednesday, April 5, 2017
  5. There's a New Taqueria in Town: Chilango Fresh Mexican
    -posted Sunday, March 19, 2017
Ratings Legend
four stars = Outstanding
three stars = Good
two stars = Fair
one star = Poor
  • From Tabitha about Tickle Pickle:
    Haha, love your comment: " If you were deemed "different" in high school, dressed "weird" or regularly got beat up only to go on to have a decidedly higher net worth and confidence level than the rest of your abusive, judgmental peers, Northside is your home away from home." I know I saw a Groupon for Tickle Pickle recently - might have to check if that's still available!
    posted: Fri., Apr 14th, 2017 @ 12:33 PM
  • From Tabitha about Chilango Fresh Mexican:
    This is definitely going on the list. Thanks for posting. Do they also have margaritas?
    posted: Fri., Apr 14th, 2017 @ 12:23 PM
  • From holly may about Urban Grill on Main:
    This is Israeli couscous, the super tiny stuff is Moroccan. I personally prefer the Israeli (also known as "pearl".)
    posted: Fri., Mar 24th, 2017 @ 4:28 AM
  • From Sommer about Chilango Fresh Mexican:
    We really love having Chilango so close to us in the Kings area!!! We have gone a few times and you are right - the Chicken Tinga is the best chicken taco you can get in Cincinnati!!! Thanks for reviewing this little neighborhood gem!
    posted: Tue., Mar 21st, 2017 @ 9:12 AM
  • From Tabitha about Lalo:
    But...do they have margaritas?
    posted: Thu., Jan 12th, 2017 @ 12:32 PM
  • From Cincinnati Bites about Swad Indian:
    @MJ: I heard family members of those who'd run Dusmesh now work out of the former Amol India in Clifton. It's called, Grill of India (http://grillofindiaoh.com/).
    posted: Thu., Dec 29th, 2016 @ 11:45 PM
  • From mj about Swad Indian:
    It seems Swad has changed hands. Have not see the former Dusmesh owners in my last visit (10/1/2016) and the food is just ok. Wonder where they went this time?
    posted: Wed., Dec 28th, 2016 @ 8:22 AM
  • From Rachel about Bamboo Kitchen:
    Hey there,
    I would recommend Basil Thai and Bangkok Terrace. They have wonderful Thai foods there :)
    posted: Sat., Nov 19th, 2016 @ 11:28 AM
  • From Tabitha about Maplewood Kitchen and Bar:
    Looks good - I definitely have been wanting to try this place!
    posted: Wed., Nov 9th, 2016 @ 2:55 PM
  • From Georgia about Maplewood Kitchen and Bar:
    So you order and pay at the counter before you get your food and they expect you to tip? That's not right.
    posted: Tue., Oct 25th, 2016 @ 10:19 AM
Where The Locals Eat featured blog
Cincinnati Web Design | Cincinnati Mobile Web Design