Head chef Paul Desiano remembers Sundays spent in his grandmother's kitchen as a child, helping her to prepare pasta dinners by picking vegetables from the garden and rolling meatballs by hand. Although he went on to study at The Art Institute of New York City and work in New York restaurants, he never forgot the childhood dinners that first kindled his passion for cooking. Now joined in the kitchen by his wife, Ai, Paul oversees Cello's menu, which adds modern, international influences to classic Italian dishes.
Paul and his chefs utilize freshly rolled pastas, savory meatballs, and prosciutto to evoke the flavors of seasonal Italian cuisine, but they also incorporate chorizo, torched red-snapper sashimi, and other ingredients that stray from Mediterranean traditions. In addition to its house-made limoncello, the restaurant also features crisp white wines and robust reds from vineyards on both sides of the equator and at every layer of the Earth's crust. Though the list includes wines from around the world, it emphasizes Italian varietals in particular.
In 1983 Nord Brue and Mike Dressell decided that it didn't matter how far Burlington, Vermont was from New York City; no distance was too great to limit their access to New York-style bagels. So they spent 2.5 years apprenticing with a professional bagel baker from the city until they mastered the technique. Once they were comfortable with their skills and had accepted that it doesn't actually hurt the bagel to bite it, they opened their first Bruegger's Bagels, a casual bakery and café. Today, they have more than 300 eateries across the United States and Canada, each hawking freshly baked bagels, cream cheeses, sandwiches, coffee, and desserts.
Grilling within the walls of a historic firehouse, the culinary artists at Two Steps utilize an assorted palette of fresh ingredients to create an imaginative menu of American cuisine with colorful splashes of Southwestern, Caribbean, and Cajun influences. A pitcher of Coors Light ($12) quells the fires of the sweet and spicy Jamaican jerk chicken ($13.95) served with rice pilaf and fresh vegetables, while the grilled filet mignon ($18.95) provides elegance to an empty stomach like a Victorian armoire in a college dorm room. See the full menu online for more details and prices.
The Mad Hatter Restaurant and Tap Room piles plates with hat-themed burgers and ample entrees of bistro cuisine. The Stetson burger slathers onion rings and cheddar cheese with barbecue sauce ($8.95), whereas the Top Hat burger outfits its 6-ounce patty with layers of candied bacon, cheddar, and veggies ($8.95) before scooting up to a side of hand-cut fries. Guests can launch meals with a trebuchet in the parking lot or opt to order starters such as deep-fried cheese ravioli ($5.95). Bread and a small house salad herald the arrival of every entree, including the pan-seared market-fresh whitefish with mango salsa ($14.95) and the double-stuffed pork chops ($14.95), which stow a blend of bread crumbs, sausage, and herbs in their savory clasp.
RW's BBQ satiates seekers of sauce with a menu of hickory-smoked meats, homemade spice rubs, and four made-from-scratch barbecue gravies. Owner Ron Wishna pit roasts butts and briskets for more than 12 hours and chicken and ribs for more than four, producing proteins so tender they swan dive off the bone into a savory side of sauce.
It's hard to commit to a favorite dish at Bistro 7. Menu items can be here-today-gone-tomorrow, much like a snowman or your trust in Margaret. At the farm-to-fork restaurant, the cooks source from local farms whatever ingredients they can't pluck from the onsite garden. Luckily, there are always tasty new takes on American cuisine––presented via small plates, burgers, and entrees––to delight dinner guests, or large parties at catered on- and off-site events.
And though the lengthy menus showcase an impressive array of ingredients, the bistro's owner, Breno Donati, is perhaps most proud of his wine list. More than 50 plus varieties have been hand-picked by Donati himself from farms and small wineries, including several organic selections. Even the specialty cocktails are blended with fresh fruit, which diners enjoy while feasting eyes on the exposed bricks and dark wooden tables that lend the space a rustic-yet-refined ambience.