Voted Best New Restaurant and Mexican/Latin American Restaurant in Durham County by Indy Week readers in 2010, Dos Perros uses locally farmed ingredients to achieve the authenticity of traditional Mexican taquerias. Chicharrón chasers can start by diving into a sweet potato empanada with chipotle and fig sauce ($6 for lunch, $7 for dinner) and cheese-and-jalapeno-stuffed plantain fritters with Oaxacan cream and salsa ($6 for lunch, $7 for dinner). From the lunch menu, the carnitas tacos ($2.50 per taco) beckon beaks with twice-cooked pork, chipotle, and tasty tomatillos, while the dinner menu unveils a Yucatan-style grilled swordfish accompanied by yucca hash and braised chayote squash ($18)., Dos Perros provides diners with a warm, inviting atmosphere complete with paintings and tapestries hanging from burnt-orange walls.
Though he'd earned accolades working in four- and five-star hotels and other upscale restaurants, Jim Anile longed for the creative freedom to break down boundaries with his cuisine. So he opened Revolution, where he serves as owner and executive chef. Here, he presides over a menu of contemporary dishes that not only put new spins on American classics but also draw from his experience working in Asia, London, and across the United States.
After a complimentary valet steers cars or unicycles to parking, diners indulge in small plates of beer-braised mussels or minty lamb sausage with fried pear and wildflower honey. Larger plates are piled with delights such as duck two ways (citrus-glazed breast and confit) and "Mom's meatballs," which dignify a traditional favorite with roasted red pepper, feta, and cucumber yogurt. The stark white furnishings and throwback accents of paisley wallpaper and antique mirrors mimic Anile's commitment to modernized classics. At the custom-made, white-marble bar, diners can enjoy dinner and indulge in one of Revolution's signature cocktails such as the Cuban dark and stormy with Thai chili-infused rum.
Some of the cooking techniques that chef Jim Anile honed as a child while working in his family's restaurant still define his cooking style. He's well versed in various cuisines and has helmed the kitchens at a range of upscale restaurants, including, most recently, Il Palio in Chapel Hill. At L'Uva, his new rustic-modern restaurant, he chooses to focus solely on traditional Italian dishes, inspired by the sort of fare one might find in small Italian villages. Anile designs a new menu every week, but always uses local ingredients and focuses on simple preparations. To complement this culinary theme, L’Uva limits its wine list to small-batch Italian bottles. Bartenders pour these by the glass or mix them into wine cocktails.
The cooks at Cinelli's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria craft New York-inspired classic and modern Italian entrees, including tilapia encrusted with crabmeat, filet gorgonzola, tortellaci—a homemade beef and veal dumpling—in a wild-mushroom ragout with truffle oil, and a goat-cheese-stuffed portobello mushroom topped with arugula, fire-roasted peppers, and balsamic reduction. Their success has allowed them to spread across multiple locations, each of which also serves New-York-style pizza.
Towering brick walls reach up to the exposed wooden rafters and modern, spherical chandeliers hang from 604 at West Village's high ceilings. Beneath this rustic, yet refined decor, plates of contemporary Italian dishes travel to tables, loaded with locally sourced produce, wild boar from Broken Arrow Ranch, and housemade pastas. Every day, chefs incorporate new ingredients from the Durham Farmers' Market into their risotto and craft the pasta primavera exclusively from fresh, seasonal vegetables. During warmer months, the restaurant hosts live jazz performances on its outdoor patio, allowing diners to enjoy the music and eat with silverware made from smelted saxophones.
Sharing the location, but offering a more casual dining environment, The Pizzeria serves oven-crisped pies alongside a similar selection of refined entrees with locally sourced ingredients. Although the chefs are equally comfortable with tossing thin-crust, new york style pizzas by hand and sculpting thicker, sicilian-style pizzas, their signature creation is the Grandma pan pizza with garlic- and basil-spiked tomato sauce. Although The Pizzeria's dining room shares the same brick walls as 604 at West Village, it creates a more lounge-like feel by lining them with neon beer signs and vintage posters advertising low-definition TVs.
With a motto like: "Where you don’t have to have a good time to drink," it may come as no surprise that the staff of James Joyce leaves the socializing up to its patrons. The bartenders and servers keep their visitors fueled with a bounty of traditional American and Irish pub food. The kitchen adds a homemade touch to a few classics: they blend a pimiento cheese spread in-house, and brine their own corned beef before layering it onto brioche buns. A few entrees, such as Guinness–battered atlantic cod and chips and Guinness shepherd's pie, round out the menu. A beer list displays American craft brews alongside unique Irish imports.
Clinking glasses and scraping plates aren't the only sounds that echo across the pub's fenced-in beer garden or its dimly-lit, wood-filled interior. The staff organizes regular events ranging from open mics to trivia nights. Additionally, the pub screens Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United football games during the season, and sometimes twice if the players' mothers are visiting.