Growing up in Torre Del Greco in Naples, Italy, Rosario and Maria Ulloa-Severino learned the ins and outs of the restaurant industry from their families. After moving to the United States, the pair worked for years in the industry. Rosario served as a manager at such restaurants as Da Pasquale, while Maria honed her craft in the kitchen. Now at the helm of their own eatery, the couple welcome guests with such hearty Italian dishes as housemade gnocchi, filled with potato and drizzled with basil-laden tomato sauce. Other entrees include tender veal medallions and seafood stew filled with oceanic delicacies as shrimp, lobster, and whispered promises of marriage from sea-infatuated sailors.
Backed by more than 25 years of tasty tradition, Carmine's chefs—who have been starlit in several local media outlets—placate hungry palates with a traditional Italian menu. Begin the eating extravaganza with a savory starter of sautéed mushrooms ($6.25), bruschetta ($6.50), or one of many homemade soups ($4.25). The bountiful blend of sautéed, diced chicken breast, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini takes a scrumptious snooze atop a bed of rotelli pasta in the chicken primavera ($15.50), and lightly fried fresh eggplant joins forces with mozzarella, romano cheese, hard-boiled egg, and marinara sauce in the eggplant parmigiana ($13.50). Gracious guests can also take on a two-dimensional dish, such as the barbecue-chicken pizza—dressed with tender chicken breast, red onion, cilantro, mozzarella, and barbecue sauce ($14.75 for a 12").
Cafe 322's homey atmosphere and fare will remind you of your Italian grandmother’s Polish dinner table. Try a different lasagna each day ($12.95) with the lasagna de la casa, or opt for the sophisticated mélange of flavors in the fettuccini di spinaci e salsiccia with fresh spinach, Italian sausage, and fresh garlic sautéed in olive oil ($12.95). Cafe 322 also serves up some tasty meatier dishes, such as rack of lamb, herb-crusted and served with butter mashed potatoes that fall directly into that place in your heart reserved for mom, America, and butter ($22.95). Smaller plates include salads, sandwiches, grilled panini, and burgers. Stars of the gourmet pizza menu include the quatro formaggio (layered with fontina, mozzarella, gorgonzola, and parmesan cheeses, $12.95) and the flavorful grilled chicken pesto ($14.95).
Capers, cilantro pesto, barbecue chicken: these ingredients, along with more than 30 others, can top pizzas at Villaggio Pizzeria. Dough handlers craft build-your-own pies as well as California-style ones, which come crowned with West Coast–inspired toppings such as chipotle pesto and olive tapenade. The pies share a menu with other classic pizzeria treats, including buffalo wings, jumbo cheese ravioli, and oven-baked subs with housemade meatballs.
When it came time for the team at Johnny Carino’s to come up with some new recipes, they began rifling through their personal cooking histories. Executive chef Chris Peitersen took his first kitchen job at a barbecue joint when he was 14, so he was primed to create Italian baby back ribs. By infusing brown sugar barbecue sauce with balsamic vinegar imported from Modena, he’s given the marinade a more acidic bite than typical barbecue sauces. As the ribs slowly roast and char on an oak grill, he bastes on his creation before finishing the dish with a dusting of parmesan.
The ribs are one of Carino’s many menu items that follow the restaurants’ approach of classic Italian preparations modified by forward-thinking flavor combinations. Diners will find a crispy pepperoni burger capped with mozzarella and fried pepperoni, or sautéed tilapia spiced with garlic and jalapeño. Other signature dishes include the 16-layer lasagna, Skilletinis that sizzle with spaghetti and a choice of meat, and tiramisu made from scratch.