After walking through a tomato-red foyer ornamented with framed photos and restaurant reviews, diners at Roberto's Trattoria enter an elegant dining room segmented by columned archways and enclosed by gold-stippled walls. Owner Roberto Zanti chats up guests as he walks around the restaurant, checking the quality of his hearty pastas and herb-encrusted steaks. Guests can pair these Italian entrees with selections from an expansive wine list, which supplies more than 15 wines by the glass and more than 65 by the bottle. While noshing on a tasty bruschetta crostini, guests can treat themselves to a glass of sparkling wine or impress a date by pushing a spoon all the way inside a bottle of sparkling wine.
Pizza isn't the only attraction at America's Incredible Pizza Company—families are drawn to its go-kart track, laser tag, and glow-in-the-dark mini-golf course. But the entertainment center's expansive buffet is quite the draw in and of itself, featuring more than 100 items and centering on pizza, including original, thin, and deep-pan crust (gluten-free upon request) crowned with more than 30 types of toppings. Verdant greens and freshly made dressings await visitors at the popular salad bar, and the baked-potato station comes with every necessity for side-dish construction, from cheese to the bacon bits from which bacon is built. A variety of sauces enliven the buffet’s fettuccine and spaghetti noodles, and other homestyle include hot dogs and frito pie.
In the indoor adventure park, meanwhile, gamers zip around a track in two varieties of go-karts—the stock-car speed and the slower Busch speed—as announcers report each turn. Visitors also can instigate harmless car crashes in the bumper-car area or spend five frames toppling pins during mini bowling.
Bella Sera owners, John Helbig and his wife Shari, transformed the restaurant where they first met into Bella Sera, a relaxing Italian eatery, dishing up salivary-gland-deluging dishes. The kitchen whips up daily specials, but holds a special place in the menu for house-favorites such as the toasted ravioli standing guard around a family-recipe red sauce ($7.50). The Cajun fettuccine, featuring chicken awash in a spicy-but-not-too-spicy cream sauce ($12.95), and the garlic-butter-topped New York–strip steak ($21.95) show off Bella Sera's national range, and the classic quattro formaggio pizza ($12.95 for a 12") keeps things decidedly boot-shaped. Wash down satiating meals with one of Bella Sera’s many beverage choices, before serenading hardworking stomachs with tiramisu ($5.50) or a tuxedo chocolate-mousse cake ($5.50) on loan from a shivering waiter.
When founders J. Kim Tucci, Joseph A. Fresta, and John P. Ferrara first opened The Pasta House Co. in 1974, they wanted to elevate pasta to an art form. “Some artists sculpt, some paint, and some sketch,” they write on the restaurant’s website. “But, at The Pasta House Co., we create authentic Italian culinary delights.” A few of the locations even have giant, exhibition kitchens so you can watch as pizzas, pastas, and entrees come to life.
Naturally, The Pasta House Co.’s menu revolves around the Italian staple from which it gets its name. There are more than 25 varieties of pasta to choose from, including linguine with chicken livers and the signature lasagna, plus weekday specials such as stuffed manicotti. Meanwhile, the mangia bene menu—which translates to “eat well” in Italian—showcases the more wholesome side of Italian eating, with dishes low in fat and calories that won’t peer pressure you to break curfew.
Gianino's stretches its pizza crusts by hand, simmers its sauces from scratch, and serves them both in its warm, friendly dining room. Rev up your pasta palette with an appetizer of toasted cannelloni ($7.15), or jump straight to the main event with a traditional pasta dish like the fettuccine carbonara ($13.15), served with prosciutto, egg, and a cream-based sauce. Specialty pizzas ($12.10–$15.50) include the vegetarian-friendly eggplant with sliced tomato and provel cheese, while the Sonny Delight BBQ Chicken provides a tasteful update to an Italian classic, much like dressing Michelangelo’s David in jeggings. An array of meat and seafood-based entrees away to quell carnivorous cravings, and the organized menu comes complete with suggested wine parings for each course–saving the cabernet and the spaghetti con polpette ($12.20) from the perils of online dating. Reservations are recommended.
Strands of ivy dance across the walls, crisp linen-topped tables set the stage for Italian and Albanian meals, and an elegant wood bar presents various libations. In this romantically lit arena, chefs sprinkle walnuts on chicken and almonds on 10 ounces of grilled trout. They also bake lamb and douse it in red-wine sauce. The kitchen team prepares desserts such as baklava to give meals a happy ending, just like movies where the princess finds her prince and gets him to marry her without a prenuptial agreement.