Owners Zach and Miranda Barnard built Z Pizzeria and Café on a foundation of creating tongue-tantalizing dishes from scratch. Tasty sandwiches and salads, specialty pies with bulging crusts ($6.29–$18.39), and caffeinated drinks pepper the menu. The Buffalo-chicken pizza galvanizes gullets with sterling toppings of feta cheese, Louisiana hot sauce, and a side of bleu cheese or ranch. Since meats taste better in triumvirates, try the Valente for a sausage, salami, and pepperoni empire ruling a garlic-white-sauce senate, or save room for the hero sandwich ($6.99), which uses ham, turkey, and salami to remove the hunger dangling from your stomach's branches. Since eating pizza for breakfast may transform diners into Foghat-worshiping college freshmen, snag a veggie frittata ($7.99) from the brunch menu and pair it with a slow-riding Utah-style scone ($1.49).
It doesn't take an international flight to visit Southern Italy. All that's required is a piece of bread dipped into some of Cucina Vanina's olive oil. That extra virgin oil arrives directly from Italy's Lazio region, where restaurant owner Vanina Pirollo's family runs a plantation. Each October, the family collects the olives, presses the oil, and ships a good portion of it to Vanina's restaurant.
Drawing on her family oil and a cooking background that started in her grandparents' kitchen, Vanina fills her menu with authentic Italian recipes. Spaghetti with homemade pesto sauce, rigatoni with homemade meatballs, and caprese paninis stand out as the most popular entrees. Chef Vanina even made one of her favorite dishes, involtini di carne, on the local news, one of numerous press features the restaurant has received. To help guests get their own rave reviews in the family newspaper, Chef Vanina also sells her oil, homemade sauces, and pastas as groceries to take home.
The Old-World spirit reigns supreme at Toscana, formerly Cucina Toscana. Determined to capture the vibrant, homespun flavors of Mediterranean cooking, the chefs hand-make pastas from scratch, use freshly filleted seafood, and personally grow the saplings used to make their wooden spoons. This dedication leads to a menu that features rustic, deceptively simple potato gnocchi in pomodoro sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil, and basil as well as more elaborate and nuanced entr?es. Squid ink pasta tossed with shrimp, calamari, mussels, and lobster basks in a wine reduction; and servings of veal can arrive topped with white truffle fondue or a combination of aged prosciutto and fresh mozzarella.
Colonial-style picture windows line the dining room's front wall, allowing ample amounts of natural light to fall upon the brickwork columns and light wooden accents. Ornate carpets cover the floor beneath many of the tables, which feature crisp white linens, jet-black napkins, and crystalline glassware.
Stalwart bricks contain the pizza oven's feisty flames at Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta, where chefs knead and stretch fresh pizza dough by hand. More than 25 specialty pies—such as the eponymous Boardwalk with pesto, spinach, grilled chicken, roasted tomatoes, and bacon—join customizable and Neapolitan-style pizzas on a vast menu of classic and gluten-free slices. Subs embrace meatballs or chicken parmesan, and pastas such as spaghetti, elbow macaroni, and wheat penne mingle with toppings including cheese, artichoke hearts, and steak slices, all ushered into rumbling stomachs by sips of soda, beer, or specialty cocktails. Each cozy booth glows from the light of a private inset television, which flickers with live sports between professional, college, and Montessori school teams.
Chef Ross Siragusa grew up in the Italian section of Chicago learning the ins-and-outs of Italian-American cooking. He has recreated those recipes and many others over the years, treating guests to his homestyle cooking at Siragusa?s. Inside the eatery?s kitchen, pork shanks slow roast for Grandpa Tom?s osso buco, and grilled chicken breasts dress up in a gorgonzola cream sauce. Guests can double the flavor and treat themselves to the combination plate?s half orders of sweet potato gnocchi and veal parmesan, or lasagna and cappellini with pesto. Sandwiches and pizzas are also on the menu, and any of the dishes can be eaten at the eatery?s two locations or catered for a party celebrating a birthday or graduation from traffic school.
For nearly 30 years, Rino’s Italian Restaurant's chef and owner, Rino, has crafted authentic Italian cuisine with ingredients from his own garden after researching dishes' historical and regional significance. Old-World ambiance pervades the dining room, where plated gnocchi, beef ravioli, and lasagna top cloth-draped tables surrounded by high-backed leather chairs. An extensive wine list supplies supple reds and crisp whites to pair with veal, steak, and seafood dishes. Wooden barrels, oil paintings, and stained-glass panels of vintners laze in guests' peripheries, and rustic charm spills from the dining room onto a grape arbor, where patrons can gaze at the stars or marvel at the waxing moon's smoothness.