In Little Saigon on 9’s kitchen, Mama Sanh’s motherly instincts guide her as cooks southern Vietnamese food the same way she does at home: in small batches to ensure freshness. Her menu comforts empty stomachs with an array of pho with barbecue chicken, pork, or meatballs amid noodles, as well as curry soups and meat and seafood entrees served with jasmine rice or coconut sticky rice. Little Saigon on 9’s more than 20 flavors of bubble tea surprise taste buds with tapioca pearls hiding at the bottom of glasses.
When he cofounded his first sandwich shop in 1965, 17-year-old Fred DeLuca planned to use his profits to pay his way through medical school. But the combination of quality ingredients and friendly service at the shop—then called Pete's Subway—proved so popular that nine years later, he and his partner found themselves in charge of 16 locations across Connecticut, and Fred left behind his doctoring plans for a career in business.
Today, Subway serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and boasts more than 38,000 locations around the world—almost as many shops as there are sightings of Elvis buying cold cuts. At each location, staffers pile sliced ham, marinara-slathered meatballs, and other fillings into halved loaves of bread before customizing handhelds with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and other healthy toppings plucked from chilled containers behind the counter. Subway’s website also facilitates health-conscious eating by listing each item's nutritional information online.
Chef Ash abides by the philosophy that food is life and life is love, which explains the care he takes in preparing each dish at Ginger Indian Buffet. The namesake buffet stands against one wall, emitting the fragrances of rich curries and flatbreads into the air at lunch and dinner six days a week. The menu includes Indian favorites such as tandoori chicken, lamb vindaloo, and matar paneer, a vegetarian dish of green peas and housemade cheese cubes.
Yama Sushi Japanese Cuisine’s chefs touch all the bases with their classic Japanese dishes. They dunk pieces of deep-fried shrimp in hot soup for shrimp-tempura udon bowls; grill hibachi-style steak; and glaze chicken and beef with teriyaki sauce. Specialty sushi rolls pair white or brown rice with such ingredients as marinated tuna, thinly sliced jalapeños, eel, and fresh mango.
L'Acqua Ristorante’s co-owners and chefs, Francesco Ippoliti and Mario Esposito, have been crafting their menu of authentic Italian eats together since August 2011. The culinary team expertly prepares tilapia contadina, as well as meat dishes such as veal L'Acqua—veal scaloppini with prosciutto and eggplant in a sherry sauce—that diners can pair with BYOB sips.
Inside the restaurant, artwork decorates colorful teal walls that match teal tablecloths and Teal, the eatery’s resident ghost dog. Candles illuminate light-brown chairs clustered together for intimate dinners or set up to accommodate private parties of up to 100 guests.
Executive Chef Matt Higgins concocts elegant interpretations of rustic Italian dishes to fill a menu that has earned praise from the New York Times for its fresh ingredients and playful flavor combinations. Toast an anniversary, birthday, or a Little League World Series title with a decadent dinner, starting with a savory saffron risotto infused with sage, pancetta, and a sprinkling of parmigiano reggianno ($12). Filet mignon dons a dapper suit of peppercorns as it lounges in a shallow brandy-cream river alongside fingerling-potato gondolas and bobbing roasted figs ($34). Plunge tines into a shrimp-and-scallop feast, laden with olives and grape tomatoes atop a creamy risotto ($28), or catapult tongues through clouds of gnocchi suspended in an eggplant-and-mozzarella-strewn sunset ($22).