The Puiia family, native New Yorkers, dreamed up Between Rounds' menu in 1990, and ever since they have skillfully prepared its freshly made sandwiches and baked goods, in the process enticing the palates of reporters from Better Connecticut. Each day, bakers whip up signature New York–style bagels in a variety of flavors before pairing them with cream cheese, cobbling them into breakfast sandwiches, or hurling them in impromptu games of ultimate frisbee. Hailing from the lunch roster, freshly baked flaky loaves and rolls surround premium deli meats and cheeses as baristas grind fresh beans for gourmet coffees and specialty espresso beverages. The arena in which the bakers and baristas operate sparkles with the sunlight pouring over the tabletops of the colorful, WiFi-saturated dining room, and a drive-thru window allows customers to enjoy meals without leaving their cars, vans, or sleds.
Dedicated to bringing the culinary traditions of Peru to Hartford’s diners, Piolin Restaurant II has been serving the signature sizzling meats and sautéed veggies of the region since 1998. Within the bustling kitchen, chefs architect dishes such as Peruvian yellow potatoes, sweet plantains, and fried yucca in addition to hearty meats ranging from grilled chicken to fried red snapper. Along with the re-creation of time-honored recipes, the brightly hued walls and cheery decor of Piolin’s dining room grant guests the feeling that they’ve escaped to Peru without the hassles of answering a TSA officer’s riddles.
For 43 years, Procaccini's Italian Family Restaurant (formerly known as Gino's) has dished up Italian favorites and house specialties. Under the guidance of executive chef Dobber, who has been a chef for more than 20 years, the menu ranges from specialty pizzas with Gino's original crust to pastas and grinders. Families pile into the cushioned booths that fill a dining room decorated with stained glass, murals of Venice, and flags of New England professional and collegiate sports teams. The cozy, casual setting is frequently a scene for family dinners, birthday parties, and celebrations after winning a bet on the Little League championship.
Since 1964, Blimpie has stacked and shuffled Jersey-style subs for on-the-go grabbers. The variety of items on its highly legible menu spans the savory spectrum, with hot, cold, and panini-grilled sandwich selections. Like the slangy biz terminology rappers give to their newest tracks, every made-to-order sandwich is sliced fresh. Wallet watchers can binge on a budget with a variety of $5 footlong subs, and pound pinchers can indulge sans guilt with The Lighter Stuff, the newest menu line from Blimpie, featuring six sandwiches with fewer than 400 calories and 6 grams of fat. Nostalgic noshers can opt for the classic Blimpie Best, piled high with ham, salami, capicola, prosciuttini, folded provolone, veggies, vinegar, oil, and oregano (6", $4.69). To give meal mittens a rest, guests raise their forks high for fresh picks such as the garden salad ($4.49) or the ultimate club salad, a complex arrangement of lettuce, slow-cured ham, oven-roasted turkey, swiss, smoked cheddar, bacon, and rogue tomatoes ($4.99). Other delectable edibles include cups of the day's finest soup ($2.49+) and complete kids’ meals for diners younger than 12 years old ($3.99).
Lena’s is named to honor the family matriarch, Lena Lonero, who, three decades ago, purchased Pizzarama restaurant with her husband, Guiseppe. More recently, at the hands of Lena’s son, Sal, the restaurant has undergone a stunning renovation. Tiffany-esque lights hang like glowing flowers, casting glow on burgundy paint and matching red curtains. Amid these cozy accents, waiters deliver Lena's legacy to tables: mussels simmered in marinara, pesto pasta, and veal and chicken delicately sautéed in red and white wine. The kitchen team also pays homage to its forebears by baking one of Lena’s signature brick-oven pizzas in Sicilian thick crust, New York–style thin crust, or geological earth crust.