Originally opened as the Top Hat Drive-In in 1953, Sonic has grown into a burger-franchise mecca that today operates out of 3,500 locations across the country, making it the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants. Sonic specializes in made-to-order American classics—including burgers, hot dogs, milk shakes, and marshmallow Ford Thunderbolts—which customers order and receive without ever having to leave their cars. Unique menu items include toaster sandwiches stacked on thick slices of texas toast, as well as the brand’s signature tots and fresh limeades.
Sonic’s numerous awards include a 2011 Zagat survey ranking it among the top-five fast-food restaurants in three categories: Best Value Menu, Best Milkshake, and Best Drivethru. The benevolent eatery has also donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through its program [Limeades for Learning](http://www.sonicdrivein.com/About/Community, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
Family-sized platters emerge from the kitchen alongside individual portions of familiar Italian entrees, entering into a petite but lavishly dressed dining room that the Hudson Reporter referred to as "one of those quality places that doesn’t intimidate you" in a 2011 feature. The menu's selection boasts housemade ravioli, grilled Atlantic salmon, and cuts of veal in one of the chefs' hearty sauces. To accompany meals, Buon Appetito also stocks its cellar with wines from across Italy and California, including fruit-forward reds and refreshing whites that are chilled to their ideal drinking temperatures inside of an igloo.
The dining room maintains a welcoming yet refined ambience, with black linens draped over every table, a ceiling lined with small crystal chandeliers, and walls filled with vibrantly colored vintage advertisements. Buon Appetito's delicatessen fulfills a separate gastronomic purpose, plying visitors with cheeses, sausages, and imported Italian foods instead of fully prepared entrees.
The foundation of Goodfella's signature brick-oven pizzas starts with high-quality ingredients such as semolina dough, fresh mozzarella, and homemade sauce. Yet that’s not the only way to make a pizza that gets a lot of attention: at the International Pizza Challenge in 2007, 2009, and 2012, the pizzeria took home prizes in the nontraditional pizza category for the unorthodox toppings its chefs paired with that base. Now they bring that creativity to Goodfella’s every day, with ingredients that include roasted rosemary potatoes, roasted-pepper-cream sauce, and peas, just some of the toppings on the 12 specialty pies. Alternatively, diners with their own visions of the ideal pizza can opt instead to create their own combinations. Pizza aside, the Goodfella's Bayonne's menu includes Italian and American classics such as homemade cheese ravioli and 16-ounce steaks seared in a brick oven at 900 degrees, the same temperature required to melt potatoes back into vodka.
Owner and chef Francis Szklarski infuses his authentic Italian menu with innovative pasta courses and a smattering of fresh seafood. Sautéed with garlic, mussels from the Prince Edward Islands ($8.95) arrive in pools of sweet or spicy marinara, and portobello ($7.95) earns a chance to wrestle in a higher weight class by stuffing itself with mozzarella-topped crabmeat. Curled up on a leafy bed of sautéed spinach, veal saltimbocca ($19.95) stays warm under a heavy blanket of prosciutto and mozzarella, and Mulberry Street shrimp ($18.95) arrives on plates lightly breaded and fried in mildly spiced sweet marinara over a heaping portion of linguine. An extensive assortment of wines matches each entree, as do more than 40 martinis concocted behind the martini lounge's chic black-granite bar. Amici's ambiance evokes Italy with paintings, wall sconces, and frequent leaning towers of spaghetti.