Portalli's Chef Keith Holsey portions his dishes according to the traditional Italian four-course meal. This doesn't stop the chef from crafting a menu of creatively interpreted Italian classics, though, such as veal osso buco with a marsala demi-glace or chili-rubbed halibut poached in a white-wine ginger broth. Chef Holsey's creations consist of uncomplicated flavors that, according to the Baltimore Sun, allow "good and simple ingredients to work together." Portalli's also caters to families with dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs or meatball flatbread pizza, which teaches kids about fractions so they don't have to learn about them on the street.
Inside Nora Cafe & Bakery, housemade cakes and Italian-style cookies gather in the long, sloping pastry cases that line one side of the casual dining room. Referencing generations-old recipes, Nora’s team of bakers craft handmade dough to create fluffy puff pastry, pies, and cakes. The restaurant also serves Italian dinners, with plates of lasagna, spaghetti, and steaks complemented by garlic bread almost as warm as a blanket that’s on fire. The team serves those dishes between bright, orange walls flecked with framed photos, amid a sea of red tables with cushioned chairs.
At Roma’s Pizza, patrons will find something interesting on the menu: Mexican food. Though specialties in hand-tossed pizza and stuffed subs both hot and cold headline the restaurant’s menu, chefs also sizzle fajitas, ladle jumbo shrimp over spanish rice, and slather nachos with cheese. Ten years of experience aids the staff in preparing such a lengthy selection, that, of course, includes both traditional, New York–style circular pies and doughy Sicilian squares. They also bake strombolis and calzones, press paninis, and toss fresh salads.
Though Yummy Grille chefs work alongside the pizza-makers of A1 Pizza & Sub, their cuisine is from a different world entirely. Instead of New York-style pizza and American favorites, chefs whip up dishes from the Mediterranean— from flavorful steak shawarmas to crunchy falafel wraps and sizzling chicken kabobs. They take a healthy approach to cooking, grilling meats in lemon juice and vegetable oil rather than deep-frying them or stuffing them with M&Ms. They pair their sandwiches and platters with traditional Mediterranean side-dishes, including savory hummus dip and plump grape leaves filled with rice.
The dough masters at Waterloo Pizza & Subs sling traditional pizzas adorned with various meat and veggie toppings next to sodas. Bedeck two 14-inch tomato and cheese pizzas with edible sprinklings of meat such as ground beef, ham, or pepperoni. Patrons seeking greener repast can graze alongside their pet brontosauruses on spicy bites of onion, savory mushrooms, or crisp hot peppers. While slices fill empty stomach caverns, diners send a flood of soda from a 2-liter bottle in after them.
Owners Bruno and Jimmy fill Mamma Lucia’s kitchen with housemade Italian family recipes. At each of the eight locations, chefs mix and match myriad pastas and sauces such as penne in pink sauce or chicken pesto ravioli in a creamy pesto sauce. Chicken and veal can be dipped in egg and sautéed in a lemon-and-wine sauce or prepared in any of 15 other ways. In the dining room, servers happily deliver New York–style pizzas to tables or to passing taxicabs full of lost Brooklyn residents.
Though its gourmet pizzas pile on eclectic toppings from feta and hot peppers to buffalo chicken, that’s not the only variety available at Venice Pizza. A menu longer than Popeye's list of felony-assault charges spans from hot sandwiches to quesadillas and jumbo buffalo wings. Platters pile fries, fish, and other meats onto one plate, and strombolis, gyros, and pasta also accommodate eaters not in the mood for a slice.