Using the fresh lavender grown on their own ranch, Craig and Dana Stewart share the aroma therapeutic benefits of their favorite scent with a line of lavender-infused household products. Each handmade bar of soap, jar of culinary rub, and soy candle boasts a generous helping of lavender oil or the raw herb itself, allowing the calming aroma to permeate homes.
For the chefs at Cedro, every day starts the same way. As the sun rises over Austin, they roll out thin sheets of dough and proceed to cut or shape it into tagliatelle, orecchiette, and other handmade pastas. Though delicious on their own, these pastas serve mainly as the basis for tempting dishes such as ragu bolognese with reggiano cheese or carbonara with poached egg and smoky bacon.
While Cedro's handmade noodles have helped put this Italian restaurant on the map, they are hardly the only reason to visit. Others include sushi-grade salmon tartare, seafood risotto, and grilled pizzas topped with creative ingredients such as figs and gorgonzola cream. Owner James Sun apparently puts just as much thought into sourcing as he does into flavor, supporting local breweries, farmers, and garlic miners whenever possible.
The brother-sister team behind Rudino's Pizza and Grinders opened the eatery's first location in 1995 in Cary, North Carolina. They wanted to create a restaurant that incorporated an onsite bakery into its design, keeping the kitchen full of fresh, housemade dough for pizzas and sandwiches. It was a concept that proved successful, and now Rudino's has locations all across the country.
In these kitchens, cooks coat crusts with a sauce based on the duo's family recipe, and then layer on any number of ingredients—including fresh basil, jalapeños, and bacon. They also slide open-faced grinders into ovens after loading them with such sandwich fixings as italian sausage, salami, and fresh vegetables, which are never frozen, canned, or taken from a neighbor's crisper.
A Texas institution for more than a quarter-century, DoubleDave's Pizzaworks dishes up a mouthwatering menu of freshly made pies and handcrafted pizzeria favorites. DoubleDave's expert tossers hand-hurl fresh dough twice daily before crafting cheese ($7.99+/medium) and specialty pizzas ($12.49+/medium) topped with scratch-made sauce and freshly-cut veggies. Quell the rumbling tummies of 12 friends or three linebackers with a dozen signature pepperoni rolls ($15/dozen), or dive face-first into a savory array of DoubleDave's other homemade favorites that include philly cheesesteak, garlic spinach, and classic veggie strombolis ($6.29+/medium). Garden-noshing gastronomes can spear forks into an endless bounty of all-you-can-eat salad ($3.99+), and owners of apple-cheeked sweet teeth frown upon rebellious orders of spellcheck-snubbing Cinnamonstyxz ($3.99+). Pricing varies by location.
Today, hundreds of people gather at The Melting Pot’s more than 140 North American locations to cast romantic spells over one another as they dip breads and vegetables into melted cheese and share meats and seafood prepared in oil. They all wield double-pronged spears—or fondue forks—to suspend the tasty morsels of their choice in the ambrosial selections before them, which are cleverly heated by stovetops built into each and every table in The Melting Pot's restaurants. The chefs prepare most platters in sizes best shared by two, making the venue ideal for date nights or reunions with twins who left 10 years ago to study the art of fondue.
At The Melting Pot, staffers use the restaurant to invest in their community as well. They host charity events, school fundraisers, and even run a program to reward straight-A students with a free fondue dinner.
Although they both hail from the Mediterranean, pizza and falafel don't often appear on the same menu. Diners at Rome's Pizza, however, might be prompted to wonder why—it turns out it's quite possible for one kitchen to carry both dishes off nicely. In a 2004 review, the Current's Alejandro Pérez praised the pesto pizza's "light, crispy crust and full-bodied flavor" and the falafel sandwich's "hot, crisp patties."
This juxtaposition isn't the only surprise on the extensive menu. Sure, you can get red sauce and pepperoni atop your pie, but Rome's specializes in white pizzas slicked with olive oil, herbs, and smoked garlic. Strombolis and calzones fold in on themselves to make for a hearty meal or a high-powered alternative to a water balloon, and sandwiches and pasta display the same love of big portions and off-the-beaten-path ingredients. On the Mediterranean side of the menu, there are also staples such as dolmas, hummus, and gyros.