Southern Living says Sonoma's dinner menu blends "a Slow Food philosophy, which focuses on local, organic, peak-season ingredients, with true culinary artistry." Menus change with the seasons; current appetizers include gruyere- and bacon-topped Kobe beef sliders with a side of pommes frites ($9) and a seared sesame-crusted tuna ($10) flanked by a spicy cucumber salad. Main courses such as a leg of venison ($20), a duck breast ($18), and a Kobe beef burger ($10) take aim at the freshest fruits and vegetables in Old MacDonald's inventory. Neptune also sacrifices some denizens to Sonoma's flavorful fare; sup on grilled Atlantic salmon ($16) and grilled sea scallops topped by a pineapple-jalapeño chutney ($18). Salads, sandwiches, and daily specials populate the lunch menu.
Location is everything to Pure Pizza. From its perch inside the 7th Street Public Market, the chefs are practically within arm's reach of the local, seasonal organic produce; free-range Meat & Fish Co. proteins; and North Carolina cheeses they use to top each pizza, sandwich, and salad. Parked just outside is the food truck of barbecue master Dan the Pig Man, who supplies the pulled pork and smoked salmon for two popular pizzas. Even the North Carolina–milled flour is something special: Pure Pizza uses sprouted ancient grains, making for a nutrient-rich, 100% whole-grain pizza with a naturally sweet taste. (Gluten-free and classic-white crusts are also available.) The result is a transformation of a classic junk food into a meal that diners and their taste buds alike can feel good about.
The pizzeria’s eco-friendly ideology expands to include their serving ware, which comprises recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable napkins, salad boxes, and plates. For diners on the go who want to arrange the pepperonis into the likeness of their favorite Backstreet Boy without feeling judged, there's also a take-and-bake option. Although it only opened in May 2012, Pure Pizza decidedly has caught on in the community it loves: the Charlotte Observer praised the "friendly staff" and the "brilliant concoction" that is the chorizo pizza spiked with cilantro and lime. The restaurant even has found fame further afield—it was featured in the New York Times as part of "Charlotte's emerging dining scene."
When Emily Maynard of The Bachelorette needed a romantic spot for a first date, reported Examiner.com, the choice was obvious?Osso. It?s easy to see why. The restaurant's intimate interior, the brainchild of award-winning designer Fran?ois Fossard, effortlessly blends wood-paneled walls and comfy couches and chairs with splashes of contemporary artwork.
Amid these elegant touches and down-tempo background music, inventive Italian feasts unfold. Executive Chef Gene Briggs combines unexpected ingredients, pairing eggplant fries with sweet-and-sour caponata and topping pizza with beef tenderloin and sweet gorgonzola. He also whips up more traditional plates, including housemade goat cheese tortellini and pan-seared scallops accompanied by smoked tomato risotto.
Bartenders complement each meal by crafting cocktails or pouring reds and whites from an extensive wine list. After dinner, guests can groove to live DJs on select nights or enjoy gourmet puffs in Osso?s hookah lounge.
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.
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.
Pass by Slice's unassuming brick and glass facade, and you're likely to be drawn in nose-first. The appetizing scent of freshly made pizza and toasty, oven-baked subs could make any mouth water. And that's before the eyes have even had a chance to ogle the crispy, thin-crust or thick-Sicilian-style pies, each covered in delectable toppings such as italian sausage, peppers, olives, and pepperoni. The sandwiches, meanwhile, come stuffed with savory fillings like chicken parmesan or meatballs and marinara. And, if the sights and smells aren't enough to whet your appetite, the menu also includes appetizers like mozzarella sticks, fried pickles, and wings that can be smothered in a choice of a 11 sauces or stuffed inside a calzone.