Smashburger isn't just the name?it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
When he cofounded his first sandwich shop in 1965, 17-year-old Fred DeLuca planned to use his profits to pay his way through medical school. But the combination of quality ingredients and friendly service at the shop—then called Pete's Subway—proved so popular that nine years later, he and his partner found themselves in charge of 16 locations across Connecticut, and Fred left behind his doctoring plans for a career in business.
Today, Subway restaurants number over 34,000 around the world—almost as many shops as there are sightings of Elvis buying cold cuts. At each location, staffers pile sliced ham, marinara-slathered meatballs, and other fillings into halved loaves of bread before customizing handhelds with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and other healthy toppings plucked from chilled containers behind the counter. Salads free crisp veggies from bread's overprotective embrace, and crunchy baked chips or apple slices accompany entrees to tables. Subway's website also facilitates health-conscious eating by listing each item's nutrition information and fastest mile time online.
According to the cooks at Bollywood Tadka, Indian food's rich flavors can be boiled down to one thing: the spices. Whether roasted, fried, or ground into a paste, spices add striking and subtle zest to dishes made with fresh ingredients (never canned meats or veggies). On the hotter end of the spectrum, spices contribute the fiery flavors to goat vindaloo and the kick to an almond sauce that smothers marinated lamb pasanda. More understated notes abound in dishes such as housemade cottage cheese roasted in the kitchen's tandoori oven and boneless fish simmered in a creamy butter sauce. To complement their mains, Bollywood Tadka's cooks craft all their Indian breads, including roti and chili naan, entirely from scratch.
Inside the wood-fired oven at Alfonso's Family Trattoria Pizza and Restaurant, mozzarella bubbles atop more than 21 gourmet red and white pizzas. Everything from cheesesteak fixings to homemade ragu crowns those pies, and more than 15 toppings, including hot peppers and bacon, flavor customizable pizzas. Alfonso’s balances its extensive pizza selection with more than 15 regular or whole-wheat pasta dishes tossed with ingredients such as imported parmesan. The BYOB eatery rounds out its menu with other Italian favorites, such as veal piccata, and pizzeria staples, including orders of up to 96 buffalo wings.
Harvest Specialty Catering, a one-time market and barbecue joint, is celebrating two decades in the food business by opening a restaurant in the New Brunswick Elks Lodge. The chefs here still cater parties and private events, but now they also whip up deli-style sandwiches, salads, and burgers for those who come to the lodge for lunch. Pulled-pork sandwiches pay tribute to those early days at the original East Brunswick location, while hot reubens on rye showcase tangy sauerkraut, an elk's favorite food.
The chefs at Bombay Wok delight taste buds with Asian fusion and Thai dishes made from scratch from traditional recipes. The menu is divided into four sections?lamb, seafood, chicken, and vegetarian entrees?and satisfies palates with such creations as lamb in red or panang Thai curries, coriander garlic paneer, and classic sweet and sour chicken. It also features rice and noodle dishes, plus desserts such as green-tea ice cream and kulfi.