With a trattoria-packed Little Italy and several outstanding New Italian dining spots (Chinato, Club Isabella), Cleveland, Ohio isn't hurting for places that offer really good Italian food. But the best of all is Aldo's, a tiny hole-in-the-wall (7 or 8 tables) in the old working-class West Side neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Family-run down to the guy who washes dishes and festooned wth pictures of Aldo and his happy clan (including first-generation parents), Aldo's offers cucina famiglia including the fiery house-made grappa that Aldo will bring out if he likes the look on your face after you've finished one of his perfectly made lasagnas or seafood pastas (try the one with all sorts of shellfish swimming with capellini in a spicy red sea).
There are no big surprises here, but everything is freshly prepared and bursting with flavor. Rao's is justly famous as New York's best Italian hideaway, but the food at Aldo's is just as authentically old-fashioned Italian and the place is a lot easier to get into.