The result of a variety of visits to Italy by two childhood friends sharing an intense love of coffee, Blanell Coffee was brewed on a hotplate of passion to deliver American audiences fine Italian coffees and accessories. The distributor dispenses coffees from brands such as Lucaffe, Pellini, Passalacqua, and New York Caffe. These brands cater to coffee connoisseurs that prefer espresso pods, pre-ground batches, grinding their own beans with their shaking teeth. To brighten drinks with flavors such as passion fruit, almond, and amaretto, Blanell Coffee also purveys syrups from Monin—a century-old French company.
La Blondina Bakery's confection-crafting owner, Agnieszka Klepacki, pleases palates of all persuasions with café-style lunches and delectable desserts. Tarts tickle tongue buds with a choice of blueberry, pear, or almond filling ($14 for 8”; $16 for 9”; $18 for 10”), and chocolate-chip cookies ($1.50) and cupcakes ($1.50) furnish guests with bite-sized snacks for bribing hyperactive children or bosses. In addition to sweets, the expert bakers handcraft artisan breads from scratch, filling the store with the alluring scent of french bread ($2.49) and beer bread ($2.49). Sandwiches quell more substantial appetites with toothsome toppings such as roasted veggies, turkey, and italian meats ($4.95).
For 28 years, the staff at Christy's Pancake House have worked to replicate the laidback vibe of a meal at home amidst bubbling fish tanks and a wall sign that reads "Keep Your Kitchen Clean––Eat Out." In its turquoise booths, tables populate with warm breakfast pancakes, three-egg omelets, and full-pound burgers from the menu of hearty diner fare. Forks spool Italian-style alfredo pastas beside plates of steaming pork chops and amply stuffed greek gyros. While polishing off a piece of pie plucked from one of the glass display cases, guests can remind the server that it's their birthday for a sundae of choice on the house, or remind a significant other for an awkward meal of excuses and apologies.
At Two Chefs Cafe & Catering, wait staff carries upscale twists on American traditions past the bar area to an expansive patio that’s surrounded by a picturesque wrought-iron fence. Inside, hosts lead diners to seats amid rustic brick walls and decorative wall pieces that organize bottles of French wine by their region. The kitchen staff makes classic cuisine from scratch for weekly events—such as the Friday fish fry and Sunday brunch—or intimate meals. They coat their six signature pasta dishes with one of five sauces and plate hearty helpings of canadian baby-back ribs. The cozy atmosphere grows more festive on weekends, when live music permeates the space and drowns out the play-by-play announcer in your head.
Falafel Bistro & Wine Bar cajoles the tahini-demanding bellies of vegetarians and omnivores alike with fresh wraps, salads, baguettes, and desserts, as well as a spectrum of Mediterranean specialties. Chef and owner Ilan Cohen slings traditional family meals straight from his native Israel onto the tables of his American bistro haven. Chickpea cheerleaders can form pyramids with one of many hummus-centered dishes, such as the sabih pita sandwich, with roasted eggplant and hard-boiled egg ($8), or the mahi-mahi beet wrap, rolled with sumptuous tiers of garbanzo mash, spinach, and alfalfa ($17).
The chefs at Muscle Maker Grill put a healthy spin on flavorful dishes inspired by Italian, Asian, American, and southwestern cuisines. The chain was founded in 1995 by Rod Silva, a fitness enthusiast who grew weary of fast-food eateries that bogged customers down with unhealthy morsels and toys sculpted from butter. What began as a smoothie stand has expanded into a successful franchise that slings pastas, burgers, salads, and Tex-Mex–style wraps and proudly displays the calorie content and relationship status of each dish on the menu.