Audiences often arrive an hour early to Laugh Out Loud’s comedy shows, lured in by the comedy club’s amiable staff, frequent visits by nationally renowned comics, and full dinner menu. Before the live acts step into the spotlight at 8 p.m., patrons can converse and watch scattered flat-screen TVs while dining on panini sandwiches, fresh-made Punchline Pizzas, and other casual fare. After dinner, audience members stay at their tables as the lights dim and the Laugh Out Loud stage is swarmed by daring and original joke tellers. Recent headliners have included Shaun Jones, known for his outrageous personal anecdotes, and Ron Feingold, whose musical comedy routine has recently slayed the club's audiences. Laugh Out Loud regularly schedules shows four nights a week, including the popular Wednesday night open mic, which showcases the fresh talent of amateur comedians and the soundman's admittedly unoriginal microphone check.
Owner and vintner Dr. Lane Gregory and his staff of merry winemakers harvest their wine grapes from the fertile muscadine vines that flourish on Gregory Vineyards' 120 acres of lush farmland. The winery's Old World tasting room and wood furniture lend a rustic atmosphere to samplings of cleverly named wines such as Sly Fox, Ruth Walton, or the dry white known as Bald Eagle. Like North Carolina's banana trees, the regional muscadine grape thrives from late August until early October, giving Dr. Gregory and company only a matter of weeks to harvest the tough-skinned fruit. In addition to tastings, the handsome property plays host to weddings and other special events. And, on an average day, visitors may be spotted taking wine tours with Dr. Gregory or exploring the vineyard's lake on romantic two-person pedal boats.
Inside the large dining room of Vesuvio’s Italian Kitchen, light floods in through lofty windows over plates of steaming homemade lasagna and lobster-stuffed ravioli, carried hot from the kitchen by servers. Dark booths line a pair of walls, where a mural window looks out through curving arches onto a bright sea, dotted by sailboats and famous philosophers surfboarding. Next to the stone fireplace, rows of tables are arranged across the rustic hardwood floor, and wine and beer flow freely below the tiled awning that hangs over the bar. A range of house specialties populate the lunch and dinner menu, and an expansive salad bar supplies garden-fresh greens.
According to a 2009 Newsobserver.com profile, Backyard Bistro knows a thing or two about ribs. To create this St. Louis?style specialty, the Bistro encrusts the pork in a dry spice rub and leaves it to bask in heat and hickory smoke for three hours. They then wrap each rack in aluminum foil with a splash of apple juice, returning them to the smoker for another four hours before charring them on the grill under a glaze of tangy or sweet barbecue sauce. The Bistro also stokes up the smoker to tenderize the dry-rubbed pork shoulder??another specialty??for 12 whole hours, while slices of juicy beef brisket await to be smothered between hefty slabs of white bread and saddled next to sides such as crisp coleslaw, Mama T's potato salad, and baked beans.
The menu of barbecue and American comfort food represent the efforts of several local businesses. Brioche rolls for burgers and english muffins for benedicts are sourced from La Farm Bakery, then crowned with organic, hydroponic bibb lettuce and beef from Angus Barn or poached eggs and canadian bacon. The bar's 16 taps pour Bud Light and Belgian-style Backyard Brew, the locally brewed house draft, to cool meals taken out on the patio or into a neighbor's hot tub, while inside it's all about sports. Five big-screen TVs broadcast every play in high definition, and speakers at each table give diners the option of turning down the volume if they'd rather tune out
Ruckus Pizza and Bar's chefs have been satiating the immense hunger of NCSU's budding student body and esteemed faculty since 1999. They crown their fresh, made-to-order pizzas with garlic, roasted red peppers, and ricotta, and will even swap out traditional pizza sauce for ranch and spicy buffalo sauce. As their savory pies bubble in ovens, the kitchen team prepares a number of handheld foods, including gourmet philly cheesesteaks, meaty sub sandwiches, calzones, and spinach-stuffed harmonicas. Bartenders shake up fruity cocktails or pour beers and wine that complement the flavors of their hearty cuisine. On select nights, the staff welcomes guests to cheer and shout during trivia, participate in open-mic nights, and dance to the thumping beats of live DJs. They also unify their newly remodeled eatery's sports-themed decor with athletic flourishes such as jerseys, commemorative ballpark photos, and neon signs.
At Raleighwood Cinema Grill, mid- and second-run movies flicker across a full-size screen with HD Digital Projection, brought to life with enhanced Dolby Digital surround sound. Yet what sets the theater apart is the experience off the screen. Instead of stacking seats into rows or demanding patrons stack into human pyramids to cram as many bodies in as possible, Raleighwood cultivates a relaxed atmosphere. Patrons lounge on cushioned, swiveling chairs at cabaret-style tables with a beer or glass of wine while servers lay out a menu of burgers, pizzas, and appetizers. Comedies, dramas, and family films enhance the flavor of dishes and the calendar of special events and food specials.