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Named after Cleveland's historic district (also the setting of A Christmas Story), the West Village's down-to-earth new bistro Tremont is almost completely staffed by friendly employees who hail from Ohio. Even nicer than the attentive service with a smile is the stick-to-your-ribs cuisine.

Must-try starters include the soul-warming Exile chicken soup ($10), a nod to the owners' now-shuttered Amagansett restaurant, braised pork belly with apple slaw ($15) and piping-hot polenta croutons filled with meaty mushrooms ($15).

From grilled pork chops with apple butter ($26) to crispy chicken topped with goat cheese ($25), none of the entrées disappoint. The real winner, though, is the made-for-two roasted beef rib chop served with salsa verde and radish-and-herb salad ($45).

Even if you don't hail from Ohio, Tremont, with its pillowed booths, hanging lamps and flea-market paintings, makes you feel right at home. As you linger among the crisp, white walls and wooden tables (with a glass of Joseph Swan Zinfandel in hand), you'll find yourself wondering why more Manhattan restaurants aren't run by Midwesterners.

Tremont, 51 Bank St. (at W. Fourth St.); 212-488-1019 or

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