Best restaurant


Kaitlyn Finchler

A waitress clears a table on a busy day at Ray’s.

FIRST: Ray’s Place

Whether it’s for the MOFO burger or a Long Island, Ray’s has their customers covered. Voted best restaurant for Best of Kent for the past three years, it’s clear that Ray’s is a longtime Kent favorite.

Featuring 64 beers on tap, meats smoked in house and daily specials, Ray’s has been a favorite choice even before the owner Charlie Thomas took over the business.

“We love being someone’s first date place,” manager Kayla Allen said. “We love being someone’s place they bring their parents. It’s just cool, because then generally you come back.”

Having a high-profile restaurant in Kent means the business flow is neverending. Allen said there isn’t much of a difference in profit between the school year and summer.

“Certainly, when the kids are gone more of the community likes to come down and hang out and not have to be around as many college kids, so it does fluctuate but in a different way,” Allen said.

“[Our] most popular [drink] by far is the Long Island,” Allen said “Fother Muckers is actually our signature drink, which is a little lesser known. It’s like the fruity version of a Long Island. And then it just kind of fluctuates with whatever the cool trendy drink is.”

SECOND: Belleria

Just a quick walk down Erie Street, pizza lovers and Italian food connoisseurs alike can have the perfect night out. Belleria has been a fan-favorite for 14 years, ever since owner Tom Gavozzi made the shift from Youngstown to Kent.

“In the summer… there’s a lot more foot traffic so it’s a different type of business. It’s more spread out during the day,” Gavozzi said. “Acorn Alley has become a destination. So, it doesn’t slow down in the summer, which is good. It actually kind of picks up a little bit. Then in the fall when students come back, then there’s a nice influx of [around] 30,000 new pizza eaters overnight, which really helps.”

Gavozzi adapted his menu to the college town by using olive oil rather than lard in the pizza dough to make it vegan friendly. They also value higher quality ingredients when looking at options.

A chef at Belleria takes orders during a dinner rush. Sophia Lucente  /

“I’ve adapted to fresh chicken, higher quality pastas and tomatoes and stuff like that just to kind of keep it more of an almost scratch kitchen,” Gavozzi said.

Their most popular menu items are chicken parmesan, pizza and spaghetti. If that isn’t enough for the night, patrons can walk down to the river by Franklin Avenue to have a scenic end to their night.

THIRD: Bricco

Whether it’s “a burger or a duck breast, our menu is known to satisfy” according to Bricco’s website banner. Bricco has been serving Kent since 2014, and general manager Stephanie Pullella said their most popular menu items are “pretzel chicken and cajun pasta.”

Their customer crowd is “pretty diverse” and Pullella said she loves the “family atmosphere” with the employees.

Bricco Kent is open six days a week for dinner with additional hours for lunch on Sunday. According to their website, the Kent menu has features from the “flagship Akron location with unique appetizers and entrees.”

They also have a seasonal drink menu rotation throughout the year including beer, ale and martinis.

—Kaitlyn Finchler