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JoJo's Sports Bar and Grille is a winner in Medina

THE SCORE JoJo's Sports Bar and Grille 221 S. Jefferson St., Medina 330-725-8424 Food: 3 stogies (out of 4). Atmosphere: 3 ½ stogies

Friday, December 07, 2007

John Campanelli

With tasty food like this, who needs sports titles?

This time of year, it's easy to see the world in only three shades: white snow, gray sky and black slush.

Truth is, there's color, lots of it: the red of blood from wind-cracked skin, the yellow of blinkers in the median and the blue of lips when you're forced to turn the thermostat down to Bruce Springsteen's target demographic (49 to 55).

With five months of this desolation to go, it might be tempting to say, "I think the convention and visitors bureau lied to us. This ain't the Best Location in the Nation."

Then, last year, I got an e-mail from a high-school buddy in Chicago. You know Chicago, that cool town with all the jobs, young people and sports teams that have won championships since color TV became common.

He was outraged, complaining about a run-in he'd had in a restaurant. He'd ordered a sandwich "with jojos." The guy behind the counter looked at him as if he'd asked for a side of toe cheese.

My buddy was homesick for Northeast Ohio, where men are men, women are women and jojos are another word for savory, misshapen potato wedges. His town was cold, gray and windy, too, but he was paying three times as much for a house, commuting twice as far and couldn't enjoy jojos.

Cleveland Plus, baby.

I got the same warm feeling about Northeast Ohio recently when I walked into JoJo's Sports Bar and Grille in Medina and was greeted by a most wondrous sight: a sign for a 22-ounce beer for $1.50. You can't drink tap water for that in Chi-town.

It got better. I was seated in a large room with at least 11 televisions, two of them theater-size. For the next hour, I suffered from ADHD-TV, darting my eyes from football to basketball to the weekly figure skating spectacular on NBC.

I warmed up with a dozen hot wings ($5.99) and, sweet mother of Tabasco, did I warm up. At most places, hot wings are like the female news anchors in midsize cities: hot, but not smokin'. These were ridiculously hot, like CNBC's Maria Bartiromo hot. I could eat only five until my mouth needed a cold shower.

JoJo's is connected to Dominic's Pizza, a Medina favorite for more than 30 years, so I made my main dish a stromboli ($5.99). It was a masterstroke. Inside the crusty shell was a minor miracle: Each ingredient enhanced, without overtaking, the next. That's not easy when the muscle of onions, peppers and pepperoni usually overpowers the subtlety of ham, mushrooms and cheese. This thing was dripping with oil and flavor.

Although jojo potatoes are on the menu ($2.59), I didn't feel the need to order them. It was comfort enough knowing that I could.

And millions of White Sox fans couldn't.

Eyes on the Fries (Dining for Guys) gives an average guy's perspective on casual places where he might grab a beer with his buddies, have a laid-back date night or enjoy a meal out with the kids.
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