The Cherry Tomato leads taste tours of Italy via a menu of fine wines, hearty meat dishes, and customizable pasta platters. Guests can honor an Italian cultural heavyweight with the caper-filled beef carpaccio, named for Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio ($8.95), and then celebrate Winston Churchill’s fashion flair with bow-tie pasta. Meat lasagna bakes beef into a hearty pasta bundle filled with homemade marinara ($10.95). Heat-seeking taste buds backstroke through linguine waves in fiery arrabiata moats ($10.95). Order the pasta puttanesca alla famiglia to share communal tureens of garlic-kissed tomatoes and pesto-pawed kalamata olives ($11.95). Naked potato gnocchi get gussied up with meaty bolognese boas, creamy alfredo gowns, or savory butter-and-herb onesies. The color scheme of the pasta felese evokes patriotism, its white chicken melding with green peas and red tomatoes to create an edible Italian flag on an uncharted plate island ($11.95).
Starting at 5 p.m. each day, members of the Gilhooly family begin twirling doughy disks high in the air. These stewards of Oblio's Pizzeria then flick their creations into the oven and watch as the almost-tangible heat forms a 3-D platter complete with cheese, tomato sauce, and a bounty of toppings. Customizable pizzas come with one of three types of sauce—tomato, seasoned olive oil, or barbecue—and any of 23 available toppings, including canadian bacon, banana peppers, and salami. Specialty pies combine these treats into themed meals; the Giovanni features five meats, the Berkeley Blues has bountiful veggies, and the Santa Cruizin’ boasts Cali-inspired artichoke hearts and minced garlic. Patrons can watch all the action unfold, ogling their pies, lasagna, or meatball sandwiches as they take shape within the open kitchen. Those content with a little surprise can leave the cooking to the Gilhoolys and decamp to the sunny patio or sip luscious nectars from the vino bar as they wait.
Amerigo Delicatus Restaurant & Market adopts its name from Amerigo Vespucci, a renowned Italian voyager who explored the Americas. Following in Vespucci's footsteps, the restaurant finds itself on an exploration of its own, only with landscapes that are of the culinary variety. Its chefs craft new-world fair from ingredients that are as fresh as they are alluring, delightful, and pleasing–or, in Latin, delicatus. Every dish is house-made, and the menu changes often to emphasize seasonality.
Buenos Aires Pizzeria's menu was crafted outside of the pizza box. Try an empanada ($2.05 each) filled with a mouthwatering meat such as beef or chorizo, or choose one of their veggie empanadas, including blue cheese and onion, corn, and margarita (tomato, basil, and cheese). You can also opt for an order of canastitas, better known as open-faced empanadas ($2.90 each). Venture down the menu with a warm sandwich, such as the Cuban (ham, pork, swiss, pickles, mustard, and mayo, hot pressed on Cuban bread, $8.30), Media Luna (ham and cheese oozed between flaky croissant, $5.65), or a meatball sub (with tomato sauce, oregano, and chunks of mozzarella, $7.90).