Since 1997, Caffe Riace's chefs have infused their Italian menu with a Sicilian flair, dishing up pastas, veal dishes, and seafood within the restaurant's vibrant spaces. They use some organic ingredients, cure their beef in-house, and import real buffalo mozzarella for their mozzarella di bufala salad. The staff serves pasta dishes—including the prawn- and lobster-loaded capellini aragosta with tarragon and mushroom—atop glass tables set in front of scenic murals and rustic artwork.
Towering statues survey the outdoor patio, which spreads beneath umbrellas across a tiled plaza. Lion statues and flower beds give the outdoor space the aura of a florist who tames lions or a lion tamer whose boyfriend really screwed up. The patio also benefits from a sense of whimsy—rather than spilling water from an urn, the centerpiece fountain's patina-covered figure hoists a washing machine atop her head. Inside, the roster of elegant private dining rooms includes the chandelier-crowned Riace room, where bright artwork and flowers pop against red and cream walls, as well as a wine room with wine racks and wooden wine barrels reclining in the room's nooks.
At Pasta Q, chefs roll out homemade pastas and gnocchi and douse their doughy exteriors with creamy sauces and redolent spices. Eighteen diverse pasta renditions share table space with classic Italian-style meats buffered by roasted potatoes. An eclectic selection of imported Italian wines pair with bites, and homemade desserts ease the burden of spaghetti strands trying to shape themselves into the form of tiramisu. The menu’s Mediterranean flourishes extend to the décor, with its deep-burgundy and mustard-yellow walls punctuated by mosaic-tiled benches and billowy white fabric suspended from the ceiling.
Patxi's Chicago Pizza is a Best Pizza of the Bay Area establishment that caters to indulgent pizza partiers and intimate diners alike. Printed on resilient pizza dough, Patxi's menu features a build-your-own arsenal of toppings, such as feta cheese, green bell peppers, Italian sausage, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, salami, zucchini, soy cheese, and much more, available atop Chicago–style crusts ($14.45 for a 10" before toppings) and thin crusts ($9.95 for a 10" before toppings).
In 1993, a few entrepreneurs transformed the basement of a Minneapolis apartment building into an Italian restaurant. It became the first Buca di Beppo. The owners of that inaugural location soon found themselves riding a wave of popularity and marinara sauce as they opened new restaurants across the nation. Today, the eatery occupies 99 locations nationwide, from downtown San Francisco to Times Square, New York.
At each location, chefs maintain the northern and southern Italian flavors that made the original so popular, adding only a few American twists. They also supply family-style servings, which help make Buca di Beppo a favorite place for families and friends to gather in large, hungry groups. The chefs bake up batches of Cheesy Bread Florentine, a colorful combo of spinach, roma tomatoes, and garlic sprinkled over Italian bread and sealed in place with fresh, melted cheeses. For entrees, they prepare dishes with an eye toward quantity, both of portion and choice; they whip up Veal Parmigiana, Baked Ziti, and classic Italian-American staples like Ravioli and Lasagna. And in keeping with the convivial atmosphere, they also serve truly decadent desserts. Their Mt. Vesuvius Dark Chocolate Cake erupts with melted chocolate, and their Colossal Brownie Sundae towers with six scoops of ice cream and tiers of sundae trimmings.
Chefs inside Palo Alto Pizza Co.’s kitchen forge dough for their signature West Coast¬–style thick crusts and New York–style thin crusts from scratch. They crown each housemade round with fresh, gourmet toppings and sauces, such as spicy chipotle cream sauce, salsa fresca, balsamic-marinated tomatoes, and mesquite grilled chicken. Diners can portion out these meat-laden and vegetarian-friendly pies in the eatery’s modern dining room, which creates a warm ambiance with its rustic wood paneling and red-accent walls lined with high-definition TVs. Guests can also descend on carryout boxes filled with signature pizzas and spicy chicken wings, ready to serve in their homes, offices, or secret home offices.