Khyber Indian Fusion's Goa-born chef swirls the flavors of various savory Indian dishes together into a single menu. A charcoal-fueled oven imparts a hint of its smokiness and all of its long-winded stories to the chicken malai kebab, a roasted poultry dish marinated in almond, fresh cream, and signature herbs ($11.99). Golden orbs of fried veggie dumplings languor in a mild manchurian sauce ($10.49), and curry leaves and coconut batter freshwater shellfish in a Goan-style curry ($15.99). The Mumtaaz goat biryani simmers cubes of its titular meat over a tame fire with basmati rice and indian herbs ($14.49) for a slow-cooked dish that leaves tongues as happy as a clown at a makeup counter.
Vitarelli's Restaurant, in business since 1976, slings a stunning selection of time-tested Italian delicacies. The Vitarelli sampler beckons visiting taste buds to board a vessel of crispy mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, and fried zucchini served alongside a marinara sea ($9.95). Twirl a forkful of pasta and meatballs ($9.95) or probe the cheesy pastascape of baked ziti ($10.95) with the same acuity that allowed Christopher Columbus to find India. Peer through the crusty bread bars of an extensive sandwich zoo, which houses sausage parmigiana ($5 for a small) and the Cherry Hill cheesesteak, with swiss and provolone cheeses co-existing peacefully beneath a warm blanket of fried onions ($6.50 for a small). Vitarelli's sociable staff also rolls out an array of pizzas ($6.95 for a 9"), whose doughy canvasses sport paint-by-number classics as well as avant garde mexican and BLT specialty pies.
While technically and metaphorically a chain restaurant, Houlihan's bedazzles its chain with glitter and winsome intrigue, boldly preparing every last bite of its savory fare by hand. Hosts of diverse ingredients culminate inside one open kitchen where professional food handlers slice, sauté, marinate, and arrange food to its tasty and aesthetic best, allowing each meal to display its individuality before being broken down into individual nutrients for absorption in the body. Casual dining is elevated by meticulously designed restaurants that pepper a patron's experience with a playlist of hand-picked tunes and customer-designed coasters that give a voice to condensation-catchers.
Taking familiar American food and adorning it with deliciously unexpected toppings has made Cool Dog Cafe an innovator among the casual food serve market. All of this innovation has paid off; the dogs and burgers were a hit, and the continued boundary pushing helped the restaurant take home Best Hot Dog runner-up honors in PHL17's Hot List voting and winning Best Hot Dog in SJ Magazine's Best of SJ 2011.
Exotic toppings dominate the all-beef franks and their fresh made angus burger cousins, which welcome culinary accouterments ranging from the thai satay dog's peanut sauce and chow mein noodles to the Tennessee angus burger's Jack Daniel's glaze. Guests can also shoo away preset blueprints and build their own entrees, pairing dogs and burgers with toppings such as traditional relish and mustard or premium chili and fried eggs. Substitutable vegetarian hot dogs and burgers help herbivores play practical jokes on a T. rex or sample menu items including a creation combining sweet chili sauce with crushed jalapeño corn fritters. No matter the ingredients, all entrees play well with the restaurant's crisp fresh-cut fries, which add a salty crunch to every bite and helped Cool Dog acquire Best French Fries in South Jersey Magazine's South Jersey's Best.
While the culinary accolades are nice, the owner of Cool Dog Cafe also appreciates the competitive side of eating. With that in mind, they devised the 1/2 lb. Homewrecker Challenge. The premise is deliciously simple: anyone who can wolf down two of the overstuffed half-pound hot dogs—topped with everything from jalapenos and cole slaw to baked beans, sport pepper and "Kaboom sauce"—and a small order of fresh-cut fries lives forever on the restaurant's Wall of Fame. They also venerate the losers, as well: an online gallery reveals the faces of those who flew too close to the hot dog.
Inspired by the traditions of Tuscany, Napoli, and Sicily, the chefs at LaTerrazza prepare a diverse spread of fine Italian dishes. They craft a range of appetizers, pastas, meat-laden entrees, and house specialties such as the crabmeat angela—fresh jumbo lump crabmeat drizzled in blush cream sauce and served over pasta. For lunch, they add 10 different paninis to the mix, which can feature ingredients that range from portobellos to beef tenderloin. All the while, diners, much like nervous jurors about to reveal a verdict, pass around bottles of wine brought from home.
When he cofounded his first sandwich shop in 1965, 17-year-old Fred DeLuca planned to use his profits to pay his way through medical school. But the combination of quality ingredients and friendly service at the shop—then called Pete's Subway—proved so popular that nine years later, he and his partner found themselves in charge of 16 locations across Connecticut, and Fred left behind his doctoring plans for a career in business.
Today, Subway restaurants number over 34,000 around the world—almost as many shops as there are sightings of Elvis buying cold cuts. At each location, staffers pile sliced ham, marinara-slathered meatballs, and other fillings into halved loaves of bread before customizing handhelds with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and other healthy toppings plucked from chilled containers behind the counter. Salads free crisp veggies from bread's overprotective embrace, and crunchy baked chips or apple slices accompany entrees to tables. Subway's website also facilitates health-conscious eating by listing each item's nutrition information and fastest mile time online.