Ruffino's is a culinary paradise that revolves around the gastronomic genius of Chef Asdren Azemi. Graduating in the top five of his class from The French Culinary Institute in New York City, Azemi's classically trained food-potion skills emanate from every impeccably crafted dish found on the dinner, lunch, and Sunday brunch menus. Revel in the simplicity of Italian antipasti offerings such as the hand-pressed Russet-potato gnocchi ($12) or Prince Edward Island mussels ($12). Garden goodies dance with the Ruffino's Salad ($8), which delicately sprinkles feta, fried olives, and seasonal vegetables with balsamic-tomato vinaigrette. After your pre-mealing, dive face first into Franco's lasagna ($17), with ground beef, rich ricotta, and fresh herbs all smothered with the Ruffino family's robust tomato sauce. Or go with the spaghetti with diver scallops ($22) or the wild-salmon steak ($26), laid atop roasted eggplant, asparagus, seasonal tomato, and olive-oil vinaigrette. Although wine is not included in this deal, you can click here to print out an invitation for a complimentary glass between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. any night.
In the gently lit restaurant, a waiter in black trousers and white shirt glides between tables toward one of many private booths. When he reaches his destination, he opens his mouth to greet the waiting guests and take their order, but instead of speaking, he bursts into song. The singing waiters’ nightly performances help to fuel the happy chatter that rolls across diners at The Italian Inn as soon as they pass the red-and-white striped pole near the entryway. As a live musician sits down at a piano to join the servers in their songs, wall sconces and tabletop candles flicker. Red, blue, and green light-garlands run across the room, casting playful hues on walls covered in handwritten epigrams, love notes, and messages from cardiologists concerned by hearts full of letters.
Chefs load plates with USDA Choice beef or decorate pastas imported from small Italian towns with sauces made fresh daily or imported olive oil. In the kitchen, the crew crafts soups, dressings, and desserts anew each day, and servers scoot past to grab bottles from a cellar crowded with international red, white, and bubbling vintages.
The artisans of circular delight at Palio’s use fresh ingredients and minor sorcery to produce a menu of creative, gourmet pizzas. The friendly pizza-builders slather a base of tangy, fresh sauce on made-fresh-daily dough before blanketing it in a snowfall of 100-percent mozzarella cheese. Those with wheat allergies can opt for Palio's new gluten-free crust. The parlor features gourmet pre-concocted pies ($9.49 small, $12.49 medium, $15.49 large, $18.49 extra large) and build-your-own roundies, starting with a plain pie ($6.19 small, $8.49 medium, $10.49 large, $12.49 extra large) that can be enhanced with creative toppings ($0.80–$1.60 each). Toppings include familiar favorites such as sausage and pepperoni, in addition to gourmet options such as green olives, baby spinach, cashews, and sliced meatballs. Of the pre-conceived discs, white-collar criminals prefer Grace’s, a rich combination of alfredo sauce, roasted chicken, and fresh veggies and cheeses, whereas Restorationists prefer The King, deliciously weighed down with pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, and fresh veggies.
After moving to the United States from Italy when he was nine years old, Pasquale “Pat” Giammarco spent his childhood working at his family’s pizzeria. Years spent refining and developing a secret sauce recipe with his father led to his mission: to make high-quality pizza on a large scale, which is also what a hungry Lady Justice fleetingly had on her scales. To that end, when he opened his first store in Toledo in 1978, Giammarco focused on creating consistent levels of freshness and quality by making his dough anew daily, further perfecting the sauce recipe with three types of vine-ripened tomatoes and imported spices and using an exclusive blend of three fresh cheeses. As time passed, the menu expanded to include hot subs, breads, and the trademark pizzas for dine-in, carry-out, and delivery.
Today, his commitment to creating tasty pizzas—along with freshly baked subs and cheesy breads—has led to more than 250 Marco’s Pizza stores in 20 states and in the Bahamas.