Anytime Fitness, which boasts 1,689 clubs in North America, makes it easier for average folks to etch out time for exercise by doing one simple thing: staying open 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. As fitness seekers challenge themselves on cardio and Hammer Strength machines and hoist Iron Grip free weights in clean, well-stocked facilities, security monitoring ensures they’re safe and producing enough sweat to meet official government standards. Members can also ramp up their exercise regimens with the help of Anytime Fitness’s staff of personal trainers, who demonstrate moves and sling motivating tips. After workouts, guests can shower in the private restrooms or hop into one of the tanning booths available 24 hours a day.
Mario and Nina Pelagalli use recipes passed down from family members from Rome and Naples as the blueprints for Casa Nostra Pizzeria & Ristorante's Italian cuisine. As the owners revealed to Sun Thisweek, Nina's mother creates the restaurant's sauces from scratch to ensure they carry on the family tradition of culinary excellence. Her concoctions blanket the 25 pastas on Casa Nostra's dinner menu, which also includes pizzas, paninis, and veal and chicken entrees. Having recently taken over a neighboring bar, the Pelagallis' restaurant now accommodates even more guests with roomier dining quarters and an expanded liquor stock. Evening entertainment includes Frank Sinatra tributes that pay homage to the crooner's singing ability and talent for intermittently firing blue lasers from his eyes.
At the eatery's belly, a behemoth stone fireplace lavishes tables with a warm glow that illuminates all the eclectic decor nearby. Eyes can scan diverse adornments ranging from mounted portraits and sports paraphernalia to several flat-screen TVs broadcasting the latest game. Atop glistening tabletops, forks globetrot across international fare such as Italian pizzas, Cajun-style po boys, and thai wraps. If pairing wine's not your bag, a neighboring blackboard lists all the night's available draft and bottled brews.
Fireside also enthusiastically hosts private banquets within a full-size log cabin dubbed The Warming House. With its spacious interior and high ceilings, The Warming House can accommodate up to 52 guests for sit-down service, 70 for a mingling reception, or 150 for a contortionist convention.
Ronin Cafe's colorful menu of creative mouth entertainment combines spicy Thai specialties with Japanese dishes. Appetizers of grilled satay chicken with marinated cucumbers and peanut sauce ($5.95) and deep-fried tofu served with sweet chili sauce and relish ($4.75) bang the stomach gong before a delicate kabuki of sushi and sashimi unfolds. Along with various nigiris ($2), sashimis ($3), and vegan makis (6 pieces, $4–$6), specialty small rolls (4–6 pieces, $6–$12), such as the spicy yellowtail with garlic chili, and specialty big rolls (8 pieces, $14+) are tenderly crafted with shrimp and crab by expert chefs and christened with creative names such as dragon, red scorpion, white elephant, and enraged anteater. The indecisive and the nigiri novices can take the splitting headache out of menu de-cryptography by opting instead for Ronin Cafe's omakase—"trust" in Japanese—service, in which diners simply find a comfortable chair, name a price limit, and trust the chef to select the appropriate meal via telepathy.
With a steady rolling hand and a decade of experience, chef Wei of Fin Sushi commands an enticing, elegantly plated array of creative sushi rolls and classic Japanese entrees. Up from the depths comes the mighty Godzilla roll—a 10-piece titan of radioactively spicy salmon in dinosaur-green avocado and wasabi mayo ($19.95)—to challenges the Dragon roll to fiery combat, battling against eight slices of seaweed-wrapped tempura shrimp and mayonnaise ($15.95). Put your dining destiny in Wei's able hands with an order of Matsu sushi, 10 chef-selected and arranged pieces side kicked by one traditional roll ($24.95). Patrons can try a steaming plate of yakiniku in chicken ($17.95) or black Angus steak ($19.95), enlivened with tongue-twisting kimchi and spicy garlic sauce, or stick to the nigiri and sashimi menu to remain as raw as a professional wrestler.
Beneath a traditional red archway, two doors bearing coquettish, intricately painted geishas open to welcome guests into Kami Japanese Steakhouse’s contemporary dining room. Flames shoot off hibachis as talented chefs skillfully dice and flip steak, chicken, and veggies upon these communal tabletop grills, each set ablaze by a baby dragon. Sushi chefs continue the culinary show, performing for guests seated at a stately sushi bar as they carefully carve raw seafood. Thanks to all-you-can-eat sushi meals, their work is never done—their hands are a constant blur of smoked eel, albacore tuna, and surf clams rolled to order. In the kitchen, yet another team of chefs whips up udon-noodle soup, fried yakisoba noodles, and teriyakis. Bartenders pair each of Kami’s entrees with tangy sakes, Japanese beer, and global wines.
“Pit beef is Baltimore's version of barbecue: beef grilled crusty on the outside, rare and juicy inside and heaped high on a sandwich,” food writer Steven Raichlen explained in the New York Times. “Several things make it distinctive in the realm of American barbecue.” At The Valley Tap House, chefs create the unique delicacy by rubbing pork or beef with a special mix of spices, letting the flavors absorb for three days before grilling the slabs in a custom pit to achieve a charred outside and a tender interior. The meat is thinly sliced and served on kaiser rolls, as is traditional in the neighborhoods of East Baltimore. Additions such as peanut sauce, cilantro, or avocado apply exotic appeal like a lawyer using a fake Swedish accent to win over a jury.
Vegetarians can get in on the grilling action with black-bean-mushroom veggie burgers, made in-house and slathered with charred-jalapeño aioli. Toasting pint glasses make a jangling chorus as they spill rivulets of 30 draft brews, which have included Deschutes organic red ale. On weekends, servers carry out dishes of biscuits and chopped pit-beef hash with eggs, sirloin gravy, and toast.