GUARINO'S is Cleveland's oldest restaurant. It opened in 1918 on Mayfield Road in LITTLE ITALY. The restaurant is named after its original owner, Vincenzo Guarino, who emigrated to Cleveland from Sicily in 1898.
Using money that he saved up while working as a laborer, Guarino purchased the building at 12309 Mayfield Road. He turned the first floor into a restaurant and poolroom and lived on the second floor with his wife, Mary. The Guarinos served Italian cuisine in the nearly 100% Italian neighborhood. Vincenzo ran the poolroom and Mary managed the restaurant, which was so popular that the poolroom eventually closed so the Guarinos could focus solely on food service.
After Vincenzo died in 1954, his son Sam took over the family business, running things until he died in 1987. Following Sam Guarino's death, his wife, Marilyn, and a family friend, Nancy Phillips continued to run the restaurant before handing the business over to Phillips's children, Rachel and Scott, and grandson, Scott Jr.
Guarino's became a Cleveland food icon because it was committed to serving only Italian classics, refusing any attempts to modernize the menu. As of 2023, Guarino's most notable dishes include a lasagna made using a recipe that is over 50 years old, and a rolled Italian steak dish called Braciole.
Guarino's seeks to immerse its customers in an "Old World" Italian experience, with the restaurant's lighting and decor remaining unchanged since it was remodeled in the middle of the 20th century.
Guarino's was named to Cleveland Magazine's list of best restaurants in both 2020 and 2021.