When Bob Candice opened Candicci's Italian Restaurant in 1980, he wanted to re-create the intimate ambiance and authentic cooking of restaurants he admired in New York's Little Italy. To do this, he hired Chef Rodney Leadbetter to forge a menu of classic and innovative pasta, seafood, chicken, and veal dishes, all enriched with fresh herbs and produce, nutty Italian cheeses, and salty cured meats. As a special treat, Chef Rodney sometimes dishes up his signature risotto, which bursts with so much flavor that the staff declared him the "King of Risotto" despite the Prince of Parmesan being the rightful heir. All of his mouthwatering masterworks find their way to a rustic, butternut-hued dining room, where staffers routinely light votive candles to cast a soft glow on guests' tables and booths.
Almost 100 years ago, Peter J. Oberweis found himself with a surplus of milk. Rather than throw it out or freeze it into popsicles, Peter began selling it to his neighbors, an endeavor that was so popular that he began a milk-delivery service in 1927. Fast-forward to today, and Oberweis Dairy still delivers glass bottles of creamy milk to doorsteps. The small family-owned dairies that produce milk exclusively for Oberweis pledge never to use artificial growth hormones, therefore imbuing craft cheeses, super-premium ice cream, and yogurt with fresh, unobstructed taste. Oberweis partners with other like-minded companies to deliver such items as certified-humane Phil’s Fresh Eggs, Chuckanut Bay Foods cheesecake, and Connie’s Pizza to homes or to sell them at the company’s various retail locations.
Authentic Mexican dishes slathered in salsa and mole sauce send up savory wisps of steam from atop Mi Lupita’s casual wooden tabletops. In the kitchen, chefs stuff tortillas with chicken, shrimp, and steak as well as more inventive ingredients such as cactus. Mixologists swirl together 44-ounce margaritas behind a bar outlined in white lights, and monthly mariachi performances enliven nights out with traditional music and maraca-juggling routines.
In addition to 29 types of nigiri and sashimi and more than 70 different maki, Sushi Japan's chefs create specialty rolls with everything from lobster and green onion to banana tempura and kiwi. In the kitchen, the rest of the chefs stick to homestyle Japanese flavors, cooking entrees such as shrimp tempura, stir-fried yakisoba, and hibachi-grilled beef. Although Sushi Japan's shoji screens, kanji-bedecked lanterns, and fabric prints demonstrate a firm commitment to traditional Japanese culture, some aspects of the restaurant's decor—the cozy booths, a chair-lined counter—evince a more modern aesthetic.
When founders J. Kim Tucci, Joseph A. Fresta, and John P. Ferrara first opened The Pasta House Co. in 1974, they wanted to elevate pasta to an art form. “Some artists sculpt, some paint, and some sketch,” they write on the restaurant’s website. “But, at The Pasta House Co., we create authentic Italian culinary delights.” A few of the locations even have giant, exhibition kitchens so you can watch as pizzas, pastas, and entrees come to life.
Naturally, The Pasta House Co.’s menu revolves around the Italian staple from which it gets its name. There are more than 25 varieties of pasta to choose from, including linguine with chicken livers and the signature lasagna, plus weekday specials such as stuffed manicotti. Meanwhile, the mangia bene menu—which translates to “eat well” in Italian—showcases the more wholesome side of Italian eating, with dishes low in fat and calories that won’t peer pressure you to break curfew.
El Charro slings an extensive dinner menu of innovative Mexican fare, from stuffed quesadillas and sizzling fajitas to homemade tacos and fruity sangria. Acclimate bellies to spicy cuisine with a cadre of 10 shrimp sautéed in lemon, garlic, and habanero peppers, or play it cool with steak-stuffed quesadillas. Sizzling fajitas saunter over to tables with a posse of bell peppers and onions, backed by flour tortillas, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, and rice. Feed crispy cravings with two homestyle, deep-fried burritos bursting with beef, fresh jalapeño, and cheese, or take on a chromatic trifecta with the tri-color cheese enchiladas swimming like Father Christmas on vacation in a pool of green sauce, sour cream, and red sauce. All orders include fruity sangria or draft beer, ideal for sharing with dates or guzzling in front of thirsty enemies.