Just beyond the Cincinnati city limits, Madeira offers both small-town charm and an impressive array of independent restaurants, markets, and shops. The Madeira food scene has entered an exciting phase, says Madeira mayor Melisa Adrien, because people in and around the town “understand that food is a way to build community. The sense of community in Madeira is palpable.”
This sense of community can be felt every Thursday afternoon at the Madeira Farmers’ Market, held across from the historic train station at the intersection of Miami Avenue and Dawson Road. Featuring more than 40 vendors, the market is a mainstay for Madeira residents and a center of town life. In colder months, the market moves indoors to the Madeira-Silverwood Presbyterian Church, a few blocks up Miami.
Although the last passenger train departed decades ago, the old station is attracting a new crowd as Depot Barbecue, the latest addition to the Madeira food scene. The Depot features BBQ-joint classics—savory smoked meats, ribs, and sliders, homemade sauces, and sides—as well as vegetarian and kid-friendly options. Offering a Tuesday night speaker series and live music on Saturdays, owners and Madeira residents Andy and Kristi Benson have more than made good on their promise to transform the Depot into a community gathering place. So round out your order with a craft beer or glass of wine and stay for a while.
A short stroll up Miami is another relative newcomer, A Tavola, the suburban outpost of the Over-the-Rhine sensation. Madeira’s A Tavola features many OTR favorites, including Wagyu beef meatballs, arancini, and, of course, their renowned pizzas with perfectly charred crusts and fresh, inventive toppings.
These newer additions join established favorites like La Petite Pierre, a French bistro and wine bar. Owner Michele Vollman attributes Pierre’s loyal customer base to the value locals place on quality. Whether for lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch, she says, “we use only the freshest ingredients to make the most perfect meal.” Enjoy classics like poulet rouge and tarte flambé in the intimate dining room, or take advantage of Fill-the-Pot, Pierre’s popular eat-at-home menu option.
If it’s old-school Italian you’re after, head to Ferrari’s Little Italy and Bakery, another cornerstone of the Madeira restaurant scene. Enjoy generous servings of lasagna or eggplant parmesan in Ferrari’s quaint dining room or outside on the patio.
Madeira’s food culture extends well beyond its restaurants. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Frieda’s Desserts, a local bakery featuring handcrafted cookies, cakes, and other delectables. Just across the street, Coffee Please offers fresh-roasted coffee, light fare, and plentiful space for meeting neighbors. Or, for those in the mood to curl up at home with a glass of wine and a good book, Piazza Discepoli, an expertly curated wine and fine foods shop and its next-door neighbor, The Bookshelf, Madeira’s much-loved independent bookstore, pair nicely.
Nothing brings people together more than the love of good food. “Good food enhances the quality of the time we spend together,” says Adrien. “And fortunately, there are a lot of people in Madeira who feel the same way.”
– Julie Innis