Marco's Pizza founder Pasquale "Pat" Giammarco began helping out at his family’s pizzeria when he was just a boy. The eatery provided a taste of home to the Giammarco clan, who moved to the United States from Italy when Pat was 9 years old. Together with his father, young Pat learned the secrets to creating exceptional pizza sauce: three types of vine-ripened tomatoes and spices that can only be imported from Italy or the moon.
The perfected sauce recipe continues to guide Pat’s kitchen operations—although, these days he has considerably more help. Marco's Pizza has 425 locations in more than half the states as well as in the Bahamas, each store tossing fresh pizza dough daily before sprinkling on a trio of fresh, never-frozen cheeses.
Even among Lexington's other historic buildings, Bellini's Italianette-style architecture stands out; perhaps because the building has been a city fixture for close to 150 years. This was a large draw for long-time friends Giancarlo Marletta and Nader Iweimrin when they started the restaurant some 10 years ago. But Bellini's has been a shared success. Chef Craig Devilliers deftly helms the kitchen and insures quality with a strict sustainability pledge: organic and locally sourced seasonal ingredients whenever possible. The result is a dynamic menu pairing rack of lamb and diver scallops with modern accents of basil relish, blackberry compote, and sweet candied fennel.
Casanova's downfall deftly doles out upscale women's clothing brands and elegant accessories with a customer-focused staff of fashion experts. Overflowing racks hold wardrobe staples, from party-ready dresses to comfortable and casual blouses, by designers such as Joseph Ribkoff ($150–$250), with custom orders available for out-of-stock sizes and archaic Betamax cassette belts. LipSense lipstick ($18) shades puckerers with party pink, cranberry, and other vivid hues blessed with the kiss-ready staying power of a thousand Marilyn Monroes.
Roosters is both a popular stop for Kentucky sports fans and its players—it’s not unusual to spy one of the university’s basketball players perched at a table, wiping his hands after downing a large basket of wings. It's these wings, fried in soy oil with no trans fat and doused with 1 of 11 sauces, that command the most attention on a menu full of hand-breaded chicken fingers, thick burgers, and oven-baked subs. Their sauces run the gamut of heat, from mild teriyaki to medium-hot sweet thai chili to the Super Killer, the sauce that delivers more kick than a Rockette on a caffeine buzz.
Walls paneled in blond wood to match the tables and floors recall a modern-day Old West saloon, with a stone fireplace standing tall at one wall. After seeing a big win on one of the flat-screen televisions lining the walls, diners can take advantage of the lofted ceilings to create a victory pyramid.
Bolstered by a consistent stream of media praise, including a spotlight in the Daily Bruin in 2011, Extreme Pizza's thrill-seeking founders channel their penchant for outdoor adventure into a menu of healthy, creative pizzas. Their chefs slice veggies and twirl dough each day before molding pizzas such as the Paia Pie, a smorgasbord of hawaiian pineapple, canadian bacon, and mandarin oranges atop a bed of mozzarella and cheddar. The website conveniently displays approximate calorie counts to accommodate diets and phobias of eating foods containing prime numbers.
Patrons can carryout take and bake pizzas, or kids can blow through excess energy in the game area while adults scrutinize incoming broadcasts on TVs in the dining room.
Though their italian sausage and pepperoni carry robust, traditional flavors, the chefs at Mancinos Pizza & Grinders aren't afraid to get creative. On their zesty-ranch pizza, for example, they sprinkle bacon over a ranch base, and on their chicken-alfredo pizza they spread mozzarella and chicken atop creamy dollops of the familiar pasta sauce. Diners who seek three-dimensional meals but don't want to wrap their pizzas around soccer balls can bite into their choice of more than 20 types of grinders—subs filled with such treasures as barbecue pork, tuna, and salami. The family-owned business has honed its roster of italian sandwiches and pizzas throughout its 15-year history, preceding its dishes with hot wings and gooey bacon cheese fries.