The creation of a pizza is a thing of beauty. Raw dough crisps into a chewy crust, and shreds of mozzarella cheese melt into rich tomato sauce. That tasty transformation has been happening at Anthony's Italian Pizza every day for 48 years. Pizza isn't the only specialty; the eatery's cooks also layer meats onto hoagies and prepare traditional Italian-style entrees such as veal parmigiana. The restaurant's ambiance is warm and comforting, just like its food. Servers pair meals with a roster of beers and wines—some imported from Italy.
At Flames 231, you might find owner Danny Taormina and his brother, Joe, stoking the fire of the wood-burning oven or assembling the delicate parts of a tiramisu. Housed in a rehabbed industrial space, the dining room features large windows and exposed brick that create a stylish environment for enjoying authentic, fresh-from-the-oven pizzas. Made in the style of Sicilian pies, the thin, airy crust is topped with fresh mozzarella, Italian meats, and secret messages written in sauce. Other Italian favorites on the menu include pasta bolognese and paninis stacked with fire-roasted chicken breast.
Long before she became the owner and executive chef at Europa Italian Cafe & Tapas Bar, Michelle Williams cut her teeth in the restaurant industry as a hostess and a cocktail waitress. Ambitious from the start, Williams soon finished a rigorous chef apprenticeship program, became a sous chef, and learned to cut onions so expertly that everyone nearby would weep tears of joy. Today as a founding member of the Richmond Restaurant Group, she oversees a slew of unique local eateries.
At Europa Italian Cafe & Tapas Bar, Williams and her cooking staff blend dozens of Spanish tapas with classic Italian pastas and seafood. The restaurant's signature paella mixes scallops, shrimp, mussels, clams, and fish to harmonious ends, and the meat paella alters the classic recipe, replacing seafood with chicken, chorizo, and lamb sausage. More than 50 bottles of European and American wine—as well as housemade sangria—complement the dishes.
Sensi owner and chef Paolo Randazzo stimulates a multitude of sensory receptors with a menu of upscale Italian dishes served in a scarlet-tinged dining room that overlooks the James River. Penne, pancetta, and wild mushrooms bathe in the rustichella d'abruzzo’s house-made vodka sauce ($16.95); morsels of fennel sausage nap on velvety pillows of potato gnocchi ($15.95). The king salmon roulade ($19.95) swims toward taste buds on a current of rich beurre noir sauce, and aged balsamic vinegar regales the 8-ounce filet mignon ($26.95) with flavorful anecdotes from its youth. Crimson tablecloths and linen napkins ravish the eyes and camouflage spilled sauces as servers fill crystal glasses with red, white, and sparkling elixirs.
The chefs in the kitchen at Sapori craft both Italian dishes of pasta and chicken parmigiana with Latin classics such as sweet plantains. They craft each dish to order including empanadas stuffed with beef and ceviche cooked in natural lemon juice with ginger, red onions, and Spanish spices.
It was more than 50 years ago that Mike and Ellen Montecalvo opened Italian Kitchen, where they whipped up traditional Italian dishes with the help of their six children. Today, their daughter Gina and her family have taken charge of the restaurant, continuing the Montecalvo tradition by serving authentic Italian-style pastas, pizzas, and specialties made from seasonal ingredients. Their guests perch at white-clothed tables in the softly lit dining room, clinking glasses of wine and bottles of local beer over plates of cheesy manicotti, tender veal parmigiana, and hand-rolled cannoli.