Blue Note Bistro

Small-town Miamisburg harbors a real treat and a surprise in the Blue Note Bistro. Opened in a reclaimed space right along the main stretch of the southwest Ohio small town, it’s quickly lined up acts and local artists as a dive where you can go to enjoy some quality music downtown. Dayton doesn’t have a ton of places specifically for jazz and blues music these days. To see a spot such as this, and with its blue-themed decor and bit of dressing up, no less, is really pleasant.

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Figlio Wood Fired Pizza

Figlio Wood Fired Pizza has been in business now for close to 25 years, and with two locations, one in Columbus and one in Dayton, it’s an Italian concept that has big potential for a delicious experience. The restaurants, sort of low-lit and a little bit more upscale, offer a menu of pastas and pizzas and a few other things in an intimate setting that is especially welcoming to couples. Founders Peter and Laurie Danis, Ohio State University grads, have a lot to be proud of with this concept.

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W.G. Kitchen & Bar

A contemporary wine concept with a flair for Italian specialties, the Wine Guys Kitchen and Bar — or “W.G. Kitchen & Bar” for short — is a wine bar concept with three locations in greater Cincinnati. The walls are filled with vintages from around the world, and the large open interior dining area gives way to many intimate recesses for small groups to congregate along with large parties. W.G., the product and namesake of longtime wine connoisseur and Ohio food name Craig Decker, is is great place to go to try a few different kinds of spirit, whether you’re a novice to wine or an expert looking for a refined glass.

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Lily’s Bistro

It’s a very recent addition to downtown Dayton, but seems to have been highly anticipated nonetheless. Restaurateur Emily Mendenhall opened Lily’s Bistro in the former Boulevard Haus building just about a year ago. Another of the popular restaurants in Dayton’s Oregon District, Lily’s Bistro has been a late dining destination that recently expanded into the realm of lunch. It’s a light bistro concept to compete with the higher-end dining and bars that surround it. The concept does experimental American cuisine with unusual sandwiches and plenty of quality food among the options.

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Citilites

As the resident restaurant serving the Schuster Performing Arts Center in downtown Dayton, Citilites (pronounced ‘city lights,’ it took me a few tries to figure out) is a class establishment. For performances, it hosts both lunches and dinners, but the store is most popular during the work day, as a spot for business meetings among the downtown companies. It’s got a variety of foods for a variety of customers, and the menu seems to change regularly. Generally though, it’s upscale dining, served best with a nice glass of wine. Odds are, if you’re from the local business community, you’ve attended a few big events in this restaurant.

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La Piazza

Ritzy and upscale, La Piazza Pasta and Grill is an Italian eatery with a concept for the finer things. The Troy, Ohio restaurant is far from the busy downtown Dayton markets and consumers, but this I-75 corridor town has a lot of charm on its own. La Piazza is certainly among Troy’s crown jewels, it’s got a seriously delicious and unique take on Italian food and it’s a must-try if you’re hungry for some local culture. La Piazza’s got a lot going for it; it’s got a bar and an outdoor porch; prime real estate at the very center of town.

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Bella Luna

Along Cincinnati’s eastern edge, Bella Luna has a surprisingly modest exterior which hides some incredibly tasty Italian food. The humble little place serves up a very modern comfortable atmosphere and a very friendly menu. Some of the tastiest items here have garnered the nice little restaurant a mountain of awards. At the 2011 Taste of Cincinnati food festival, they brought home a trophy that explains it all: “Best Damn Dish.” You will undoubtedly taste some of the best damn food in the city. Far from the prominence of other Cincinnati eateries, this place is a far undervalued jewel in the Queen City’s crown.

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