The Bassano family opened Ferrari’s Little Italy & Bakery in the eastern Cincinnati suburb of Maderia 15 years ago, and the Italian restaurant has been a mainstay of Italian cuisine in the city in the time since then. Tucked behind a strip mall it’s got a rustic feel that has meant the classy restaurant has remained a pretty, peaceful place to dine even as much of the town around it has undergone significant change in the past 15 years. But change or not, one thing hasn’t changed since I first set foot in here 15 years ago; the wonderful smell of Italian pastries that greets you when you walk in.
The restaurant has a lot of great food to offer, among it some of the best classic Italian cuisine from both the Northern and Southern regions of Italy. Among the best options:
- Pizza: Ferrari’s pizza is consistently highly regarded among the vibrant Cincinnati dining scene, and just looking at a pie will make you a believer. The shop’s pizzas are made with an expertly thin crust and topped with some great ingredients, some pies more in tune with what you’d find in Italy and others more like American fare. Very interesting.
- Fettuccine Alfredo: Unusual for the dish, this Alfredo is heavy on the creamy sauce and it’s also topped with a ton of spinach to really give it a little character. I highly recommend it with a side dish or some good bread.
- Focaccia bread: This is a favorite take-out item from the front bakery; the Focaccia bread is topped with a few tomatoes to give the impression almost like it’s pizza. Very different from what you find elsewhere.
- Bruschetta: On a thin bread, the focaccia is topped with mozzarella, tomatoes, mushrooms and a few other ingredients for a very bright, almost fruity profile. Delicious.
- Linguine Agilo Olio: Pasta aglio e olio is a common Italian dish, and this one is loaded with veggies! Squash, zucchini, asparagus, bell peppers and so forth. Pasta tends to be so heavy, but this is welcome, and different, because it’s not going to stuff you.
- Mama Bassano’s Lasagna: This signature dish is a mile high. Piled with beef, romano cheese, mozzarella and tomato sauce in perfect unison. A mix of oregano, onion and other herbs give it a genuine shine with every bite.
- Tiramisu: A favorite desert of mine, the tirimisu has a wonderful, light and fluffy mousse atop a few ladyfingers. Very good, though the lady fingers are at times soggy.
The restaurant has a great feel, its architecture inspired a little by the beautiful little shops you might find on a trip through Rome, very intimate. An odd quirk, the water glasses are sort of small which keeps the staff returning to your table frequently, but it also means service is very attentive. The people at the restaurant, from the servers to the bakers and the wine bar’s experts, make the experience here very pleasant. In all, Ferrari’s is a must-try for lovers of Italian food in southwest Ohio, both for the reasonable price points and for the real, quality experience you’ll have here.
- The front of Ferrari’s is a classic bakery, and you can take breads and pastries on a to-go basis without entering the rest of the restaurant.
- I suggest sampling a pizza before you try anything else — that;s the most famous dish at the restaurant.
- The beer tap is small but there is a great variety of wines.