Carpe Diem relaxes diners in a tranquil, stylish lounge, serving upscale, elegant cuisine from Morocco to several Eurasian nations that don't yet exist. Monday through Friday, visitors can delve into tapas, such as lobster crostini, topped with caramelized onions, tomatoes, spinach, and a flavor-enhancing vodka butter sauce ($6). Those who like to dress their sandwiches up in a beret will adore the French-originating croque monsieur sandwich, which stimulates the olfactory nerves with its shaved pork loin and melty Gruyere cheese ($9). Wine-imbibers can revel in Carpe Diem's enormous collection of whites and reds, such as Washington Hills' Gewürztraminer ($6.50), while specialty drinkers can experiment with Carpe Diem's Carolina tea ($7), a sweet tea and vodka creation served on the rocks.
Mojo Pizza N' Pub has topped its signature New York-style sesame crust with house-made sauce since 1998. Each pizza is baked on a pizza stone, including the Muffaletta with pepperoni, smoked ham, olives, and pepperoncinis, and the Mardi Gras, which tosses smoked bacon, Italian sausage, peppers, mushrooms, and onions around the necks of enthusiastic onlookers. In addition to pizza, Mojo creates eight salads, such as Greek and chicken Caesar, douses chicken wings with teriyaki sauce, and assembles beef lasagna in house. Beers from 13 rotating taps join wine and cocktails behind the bar, whose libations complement slices both indoors and on the outdoor dog-friendly patio. Mojo Pizza N' Pub hosts trivia nights on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and plugs in an array of video games to entertain younger diners.
Carefully wrapped cuts of meat and sausages and encased salami fly over the deli counter at Rocco's New York Italian Deli as staffers craft the homemade Italian entrees that compose this traditional deli’s menu. Owner Adam Kahn draws upon his family’s recipes to craft a selection of meat, cheeses, and desserts available by the pound and savory dishes that burst with classic Italian ingredients like a tomato vine when rent is due. Almost every morsel is made from scratch, from the sweet crust of Grandma’s cheesecake to the homemade bread made fresh every morning to ensconce the deli meats in a selection of hot and cold sandwiches. The deli also sources some specialty items straight from Italy to showcase the country's flavorful pepperoncini, piquant Reggiano parmigiana, and tart limonata, lending customers a taste of authentic Italian treats without needing to install a gelato-cast statue of David.
Combining rustic, Old-World home cooking with contemporary, metropolitan sensibilities, Villagio Italian Kitchen presents diners with refined versions of Mediterranean comfort foods. Executive Chef Brian Obermeyer?a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu culinary academy in Paris, France?remains faithful to the ingredient-focused approach of classic Italian cooking, even while adding a bit of restrained flair in order to elevate the cuisine.
Flash-fried artichokes sit beside mushrooms, kale, and roasted garlic aioli; brown butter and sage complement the slight sweetness of the butternut squash ravioli; and the Tuscan-style steak includes truffle fries as well as a Chianti-tinged Worcestershire sauce. At the same time, Chef Obermeyer occasionally reaches beyond Italian borders by serving chargrilled kabobs featuring everything from harissa-marinated chicken to seasonal vegetables with a balsamic glaze.
Much like its menu, Villagio Italian Kitchen's dining room aims for a balance between rustic and contemporary influences. Exposed brickwork, framed paintings on the walls, and stout wooden booths evoke the spirit of an Old-World trattoria, while cylindrical pendant lamps and imported Martian silverware help lend a distinctively modern vibe to the space.
The folks at Urban Pie aren?t afraid to eschew traditional pizza toppings. Case in point: the pizzeria's signature thin crust is topped with olive oil, roasted garlic, spinach, roasted red peppers, red onions, feta and mozzarella. Classic pizza sauce is also left off the margherita pizza, which instead gets a heap of tomato slices. Of course, guests can still get old-school red sauce on pies such as the Grease Monkey Pizza, bedecked with bacon, ground beef, pepperoni, and ham. The homemade marinara also serves as the perfect dunking option for garlic cheese breadsticks and index fingers.
Dave Pazienza first donned a toque in the kitchen of his father's restaurant where he learned family recipes from his fellow Italian chefs. He emerged from that experience eager to share those culinary traditions with as many people as possible, which he does from behind the counter at Artuzzi's Italian Kitchen. Tables gaze directly into the open kitchen, allowing guests to watch as cooks reduce steaming pots of wine, cream, and spices or whittle each individual strand of pasta. Extra-virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, and eight signature sauces invigorate the platefuls of freshly cut linguini or imported, whole-wheat penne.
From the pizza oven, scents hint at more than 20 toppings including granny smith apples, gorgonzola cheese, capers, and herb-roasted chicken. The dining room's pastel yellow and orange walls mirror the warmth of the oven beneath vintage-inspired paintings of pasta and wicker-wrapped chianti bottles.