Stow is not blessed with a multitude of locally owned dining spots the way neighboring Cuyahoga Falls or not-too-distant Fairlawn are, but there are good places to be found.
As the name suggests, Bellacino's specializes in pizza and grinders – sublike sandwiches made with fresh-baked bread.
Pizzas range in price from $3.89 for an 8-inch cheese pizza to $18.79 for an extra-large (16-inch) Browns Special (pepperoni, sausage, ham, meatballs and bacon).
There are salads ($2.59 for side salad to $7.99 for a steak salad with ribeye steak, mushrooms and Cheddar cheese) and more than two dozen grinders, ranging from the Italian–House Specialty ($4.35 for 4.5-inch quarter, $6.19 for 9-inch half or $11.99 for whopping 18-inch whole) to the Tribe (same prices) to the strombli grinder ($4.19, $5.79, $10.99).
Pastas include spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic toast ($6.59), lasagna with garlic toast, ($7.79, $9.99 for meal including side salad and 22 oz. drink) and chicken fettuccini alfredo with garlic toast ($7.89 or $9.99 for the meal).
If you like garlic, this is the place for you.
I like garlic, so this is a good thing.
On a recent visit with Stow Patch Local Editor Amanda Harnocz (Patch editors tend to graze in herds), we ordered a side of fried banana pepper rings ($3.99, with ranch or pizza sauce – the pizza sauce goes better), Amanda got the Chicago steak grinder ($6.49 half), and I ordered the chicken bacon ranch grinder with wheat bread ($6.49 half).
For lunch, visitors order at the counter and seat themselves, and workers bring the meal to your table. Evenings are full-service with a waiter-waitress staff and full-service bar. As they say at Cleveland Indians games, plenty of good seats are available for lunch.
The banana pepper rings (FBPR in Bellacino's parlance) arrived, lightly breaded and hot out of the fryer. The mild variety of banana peppers aren't all that hot to begin with and cooking them takes some of the zing out, so these had just a mild bite – nothing to be afraid of if major heat is not your thing.
There's not a lot of variety when it comes to side orders: Chips, salads, baked fries and FBPR. There is a kids' menu, and a selection of Bellacino's Light sandwiches (9 grams of fat or less) and soup of the day.
The oven-baked sandwiches arrived pretty quickly – and the "half" sandwich is bigger than what I had envisioned was a "whole" sandwich. This was before I actually took a closer look at the dimensions listed on the menu. And yet I managed to put the whole thing away.
The grilled flavor of the chicken came through and melded nicely with the bacon and subtle ranch dressing. The wheat bread was stout and slightly chewy, as if perhaps it was made from a blend of semolina and durum (more often used to make pasta), and it held the sandwich together pretty well. It's a big, satisfying sandwich.
Amanda offered a taste of her Chicago steak grinder, so I hacked off a hunk, and Whoa! That's some garlicky sauce on there. The steak was tender and garlicky. As I said, if you like garlic, this is the place for you. But be prepared to have dragon breath for the rest of the day.
Owners Kelly and Brad Ruth started the Stow restaurant in 1998 and moved to the current Fishcreek Road location in February 2009. Amenities include a patio, game room, online ordering, a pickup window and a banquet room.
Bellacino's of Stow, 3657 Fishcreek Rd., Stow. 330-678-3000. Hours 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday and Monday, 11 a.m.-midnight Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.- 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Extended hours during football season and special events. Delivery for special events only, $25 minimum order.