Vapiano's kitchen staff assuages appetites with a menu of quickly prepared hand-tossed pizzas, house-made pastas, and gourmet salads. Using ordering cards that boast computer chips and cheat codes for Minesweeper, eaters can place orders for various Italian eats such as the signature granchi de fiume pasta dish ($9.95) with crayfish and veggies lounging in lobster sauce. A crispy crust supports molten tomato sauce bubbling beneath a layer of mozzarella cheese on the Diavolo pizza ($9.95), which pleases palates with chunks of spicy pepperoni, bell peppers, and onions.
Villa Francesca is truly a family-run restaurant; Marguerite Suppa and her daughter Francesca oversee the daily operations. They hand-pick as much produce from local vendors as possible in order to craft a menu of classic Italian fare, such as parmigiana dishes, calzones, and pastas. Just off the dining room and visible to patrons, a row of brick ovens churns out pizzas that were named the best in the area in 2009 and 2010 by Charlotte Magazine.
Since 2009, the restaurant has hosted the Take a Slice Out of Cancer event, with appearances by local celebrities, including players from the Carolina Panthers, who sign autographs and prepare defensive schemes using pepperoni slices on the outdoor patio.
Pie Town approaches each pizza as a work of crusted art, with local ingredients weaving in and out of each pie like the woodwinds in a cheese-based concerto. Pie Town uses both classic and 12-grain crusts as doughy circumferences for its pizza creations. Pie Town's pies are cooked for less than three minutes in the 800-degree heat of the restaurant's oven. When pizzas are done cooking, they are immediately brought to the table for inspection by the customer's taste buds. Acclaimed pizzas on Pie Town's dinner menu include the margherita ($12), which employs mozzarella cheese from the Chapel Hill Creamery, and the Bacon and Egg ($13), where the eggs cook atop the piping hot pizza like magnifying-glassed ants on a bacon-and-arugula sidewalk. An assortment of traditional toppings ($2 each), such as pepperoni and Italian sausage, are also available as slingshot ammunition. Pie Town also serves a selection of appetizers ($5–$6), salads ($6–$7), and desserts such as gelato du jour or chocolate fondue with strawberries, marshmallows, and Rice Krispies treats ($7).
To craft their braciola (italian beef rollups), Open Kitchen’s chefs begin with a large slice of top beefsteak. They stuff the steak with fresh italian sausage, prosciutto, and genoa salami, then simmer the concoction and serve it with pasta pomodoro. This is just one example of their vast menu of Italian fare, which also includes ravioli parmigiana, pizza, and sub sandwiches. Perhaps the pièce de résistance is Open Kitchen’s mixed Italian cuisine platter—pasta covered with chicken livers, slices of veal, chicken parmigiana, meatballs, and mushrooms for one or two.
At Intermezzo Pizzeria and Cafe, brothers Branko and Djordje Avramovic draw patrons to their European–style eatery with fresh, hand-tossed pizzas and Serbian family recipes passed down from their grandmother. Their kitchen contains no freezer or microwave, ensuring the staff cooks all meats and melts all toy army soldiers by hand. In keeping with this commitment to freshness, they also grow their own herbs and create their own mozzarella, bread, and pastas from scratch. These top-notch ingredients assemble in dishes such as Balkan-style pizzas stuffed with ham and sour cream and eggplant musaka, which guests can devour on an outdoor patio overlooking Charlotte's skyline.