Carefully merging a trio of culinary traditions, Merche! showcases its fresh fusion cuisine with Spanish-, Italian-, and Mediterranean–inspired dishes. In the dining room, guests can stare deeply into the large mosaic circle baring the eatery’s name while waiting for entrees such as buttered snapper and chicken piccata to emerge. Small plates of bruschetta, stuffed cherry-pepper poppers, and beef empanadas are suited for sharing on the patio, where light from a fireplace dances across pale stone walls, or luring raccoons into a rival’s canoe. Local musicians also supply diners with mellifluous soundtracks every Friday and Saturday evening.
Roberto Rosa first discovered his love of cooking at age 13, when he began learning recipes from his grandmother Antonia. Two decades later, the owner of Antonia’s Cucina Italiana shares his love of all Italian fare, transforming chicken, seafood, veal, and house-made pasta into colorful dishes during lunch and dinner. Across the three locations, décor and amenities vary, from outdoor seating to exposed brick walls and checkered floors where diners can settle arguments over who pays the bill with games of human chess.
Offering an array of specialty-pizza choices and a plethora of additional toppings, Gambino's Pizza bakes crispy, edible plates brimming with elaborate orchestrations of ingredients. With a sweet and spicy foundation of traditional home-style sauce, each pizza balances a blend of 100% real mozzarella and provolone cheeses. Suppress angry, pitchfork-wielding appetites with a large Mobster pizza that buttresses pork and italian sausage, beef, mushrooms, pepperoni, green peppers, onions, black olives, canadian bacon, and extra cheese ($17.49). Celebrate all five food groups with an 18-inch hawaiian pie sporting canadian bacon, pineapple, and mozzarella ($15.49), or ease noshing anticipation with appetizers such as boneless buffalo blasters ($5.29 for five) and jalapeño cheese raviolis ($7.09). Afterwards, order a dutch apple, cinnamon streusel, or very cherry dessert pizza ($7.49–$9.99) to fool finicky children into actually eating dinner without preparing an asparagus-filled piñata.
At the heart of every dish on Candelari's menu—including its signature thin- ($17–$22), thick- ($18–$23), and deep-dish-style ($19–$24) pizzas—are the famous Italian-sausage recipes of Alberto Candelari, all of which are made with choice meat, natural spices, and hints of liqueur. The T-Rex's spread of pepperoni, ground sirloin, useless forearms, Canadian bacon, and Candelari’s andouille and original Italian sausages lets you sample all of the finest meat-fruits of Candelari Sausage Company founders Greg Wheeler and “King of Sausages” Michael May (Alberto’s grandson). Build up to its bounty beforehand with a plate of sausage misto ($7), which features grilled Italian, turkey-jalapeño, and chicken-apple sausages piled atop provolone polenta. Diners that look suspiciously like flocks of seagulls inside a trench coat can find out what a grilled salmon ($14) tastes like when complemented by gulf shrimp, lemon-caper butter sauce, and veggies. Otherwise, avoid all the menu botheration and opt for the daily lunch buffet ($9–$9.50), which includes unlimited pizza, pasta, salad, and a drink.
Papa Murphy's Take 'n' Bake Pizza was born out of the owner's frustration with bad pizza from chains, which often tasted as if every ingredient was canned or frozen. Deciding to change the industry, Papa Murphy's tosses every ingredient, all of which are never frozen, onto the crust in front of the customer's eyes and sends them home to bake in a home oven. This dedication to fresh flavor earned Papa Murphy's the top spot on Zagat's National Chain survey.
Visitors can create their own take on the pizza pie or chomp into one of their signature pizzas, which range from meat-filled stuffed crust to calorie-conscious lite varieties covered in vegetables. Their appetizers and desserts follow the same pattern. Customers order raw cookie dough or cheesy bread ripe for the baking, resulting in every course being fresh from the oven.