Friday, January 13, 2012


When it comes to choosing a place for a business, "location, location, location" is what marketing gurus say it's all about. In fact, I can understand that concept. For several years, my husband Jack and I spent loads of quality time at one of our favorite restaurants - Nicolino's - at the corner of U.S. Route 422 and Niles-Cortland Road on the outskirts of Niles. When that disappeared, we were so "connected" to the location that we tried a couple of other restaurants that set up shop there.

They disappeared almost as fast as they opened - no big
surprise to us, since they were disappointments to us as well. But every time we drove past that corner, we'd almost feel the pull of the car wheel turning in that direction since we'd done it so often.

When the restaurant reopened as High Pointe Restaurant and Tavern, though, we resisted the urge to stop. We'd loved Nicolino's -
and disliked its immediate follow-ups - so much that we were hesitant to try it. Then one day, prompted by a discount coupon in our Entertainment Book, we decided to take the plunge.

Since then, I'm happy to report, we've returned several times. And although I admit I still haven't tried the linguine with clam sauce here (Nicolino's made the best on the planet, in my humble opinion), I've been quite satisfied with everything I've had. Once again, this location is a winner.

The decor remains much the same as it always was; a step-down area just inside the door filled with booths and a couple o
f large tables, a main level with more tables and a separate side that has a bar and, I'm told, quite a crowd on weekends. We've always liked the downstairs section, which boasts a couple of sunny windows and the booths we prefer.

There are a number of lunch specials here, ranging from around $5 to $7, that make good choices when 1) you're in money-saving mode and/or 2) you're in a hurry. A full bar complements the food as well, and we usually opt for on-tap Labbatt's Blue or Yuengling. On our first visit, I couldn't resist the $6 fried balogna sandwich that comes with roasted red peppers, Italian greens and provolone. The choices for sides include fries, cole slaw or applesauce, so I decided to try the fries. Jack took his time to decide but finally settled on the mushroom-Swiss burger (ordering it well done), also with fries - it was one of the $7 lunch specials.

Both of us left stuffed and happy. The balogna sandwich was delicious, and I'll note that it was the greens that sealed the deal on this one. Jack's burger was cooked perfectly and was quite tasty as well. As for the fries, well, they're quite good - but be prepared for a huge mound. In addition to a box to take the halves of our sandwiches we simply couldn't manage to get down, we took home another large box filled with nothing but fries.

When we discovered we had an Entertainment Book coupon good for a free entree with the purchase of another (up to $8) here, stopping once again was an easy decision. This time, since we had a good discount, we looked at the list of appetizers. The chicken tenders were appealing ($5.99), but then we saw the Italian nachos (homemade nachos with Alfredo sauce, black olives and roasted red peppers for $6.99) and decided that would hit the spot.

My initial experience with that fried balogna sandwich enticed me to try it again (yes, it was just as good this time), but Jack opted for an open-face roast beef sandwich with garlic mashed potatoes and gravy ($7.99). He
asked to substitute cole slaw for the potatoes, and I picked applesauce instead of fries with my sandwich since I now knew there was no way I could get through all those fries.

The real standout on this visit was the appetizer; the nachos were square-ish "pillow" puffs of dough - nothing like the usual crispy chips - smothered in a mouthwatering Alfredo sauce. We cleaned off the entire plate in no time and agreed this could make a meal in and of itself.

More recently, we stopped for lunch with our friends Jerry and Barb from Niles, who, like us, are Entertainment Book users and had a coupon like the one we'd used at our last visit. We insisted on treating them to the Italian nachos appetizer - they loved it too - and Jerry wanted to try the hot peppers in oil appetizer. Nice guy that he is, he shared - and the flavor is delicious. The crispy peppers aren't terribly hot, especially if you watch out for the red pepper seeds, and the grilled pita triangles were tasty for those who needed to tone down the heat still another notch.

Our friends both wanted to try the Tuscan chicken sandwich with cole slaw ($7.99), while Jack and I went with something new: the pulled pork sandwich with slaw for $6 (him) and the pepper and egg sandwich with fries, also $6 (me). Our first delicious surprise was the slaw; the three who got it raved about it so much that I tried a bite - and agreed. It's got a real zing, which we concluded might come from at least a touch of horseradish sauce.

The grilled chicken breast in the Tuscan sandwiches were topped with Italian greens, roasted red peppers and mozzarella cheese and won kudos from our friends; in particular, Barb said the bun was exceptionally tasty. Jack said his pulled pork was tender and the flavor was delicious. And my pepper and egg sandwich, which was a good-sized layer of scrambled eggs and chopped red peppers between two large grilled slices of bread, was outstanding.

As for the fries, we had plenty to pass around. Cooked Idora-style, they're great sprinkled with salt and vinegar. Even with four of us sampling, I had close to half of them left when we'd polished off the rest of our meals.

If you go: High Pointe Restaurant and Tavern
754 Youngstown Warren Road
Niles, OH 44446