After years in the restaurant business, Ramon and Armando Ruiz were ready for a change. Tired of the gimmicky marketing that characterizes many Italian franchises, they joined with Ramon’s son Enrique to open Andiamo Italian Ristorante—an intimate, neighborhood joint that emphasizes the family orientation of Italian culture. “We don’t want to say this is who we are, deal," Enrique told Eagan Patch. "We want to build relationships with our customers and encourage and welcome feedback.” To that end, their menu of mostly Italian entrees, pastas, and pizzas also includes nontraditional cuisine such as walleye fillets and burgers. The dining room’s decor remains 100% Italian. A mural of rustic wine barrels sweeps across warm orange walls, and a tricolor sign glows above its outdoor patio. Ruiz and his staff also venture beyond the restaurant’s confines to cater various events.
From its humble origins as a soda fountain in 1930s Saint Paul, Green Mill Restaurant and Bar has grown into a franchise with more than 28 locations all over Minnesota and the Midwest. As TV screens blast sports news in the background, patrons at each eatery dine on a menu of classic American and pizzeria fare. Thick, hand-pressed burgers form bunned towers with hefty toppings such as smoked bacon, haystack onions, and chipotle mayo. Families looking to bond can practice fractions on regular, deep-dish, or thin and crispy pizzas or group juggling acts with samplers of juicy wings. In addition to pastas and salads, each location's bar carries a varied drink menu that includes draft beers such as Blue Moon and Samuel Adams alongside wine, martinis, and margaritas.
At the eatery's belly, a behemoth stone fireplace lavishes tables with a warm glow that illuminates all the eclectic decor nearby. Eyes can scan diverse adornments ranging from mounted portraits and sports paraphernalia to several flat-screen TVs broadcasting the latest game. Atop glistening tabletops, forks globetrot across international fare such as Italian pizzas, Cajun-style po boys, and thai wraps. If pairing wine's not your bag, a neighboring blackboard lists all the night's available draft and bottled brews.
Fireside also enthusiastically hosts private banquets within a full-size log cabin dubbed The Warming House. With its spacious interior and high ceilings, The Warming House can accommodate up to 52 guests for sit-down service, 70 for a mingling reception, or 150 for a contortionist convention.
Wrapped in a blanket of comforting atmosphere, al Vento’s décor flashes rustic charm with earthy tones, white tablecloths, mirror-lined walls, and a relaxing outdoor patio. Head chef and owner Jonathan Hunt's variable menu changes every day, so expect surprises as Hunt draws on his years of culinary expertise to devise the latest dish. You might fork-dive into small bites such as the sweet-corn-and-roasted-pepper bruschetta ($4.50) and Sicilian stuffed mushrooms with pine nuts and mother sauce ($7.25)—or you might prep for the next gravity outage by loading up on hearty entrees such as grilled pork tenderloin with two reductions ($18.75) and jumbo scallops with roasted-squash risotto and tomato brodo ($21.50). Fresh pizza and pasta make for excellent traditional options as well, while still leaving room for a dessert such as crème brûlée ($6) or the true-to-its-name Chocolate Oblivion (pastry crust with a sweet chocolate-ganache center topped with diced strawberries and vanilla crème anglais, $6). If all this food leads to a sluggish palate, punch it awake with a Cioccolatino martini ($8.50) or a glass of Solopaca Rosso ’07 red wine ($6) from the drinks menu.
At Frankie's, chefs coat fresh pizza dough in red, alfredo, or barbecue sauce before sprinkling it with a fine blend of italian cheeses. They then blanket the pies with a choice from more than 20 toppings—one for each pizza it takes to feed a rugby team or a Venetian parking meter. The topping roster includes such delicious embellishments as sliced roast beef and basil, and once they've been added to the pies, the chefs bake them in a stone oven. The care that Frankie's staff takes with its pizzas is similar in magnitude to the selection of its menu's pastas and sandwiches, such as the baked rigatoni and the buffalo-chicken sandwich.