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.
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).
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.
Café Colore's Italian-American dinner menu sends gourmet gondolas of soup, pasta, seafood, veal, and more into famished belly canals. Open the floodgates of flavor to the caramelized onion bisque, a blend of vidalia onion and sherry ($6.95) that swaddles mouths in a soft warmth usually reserved for babies' blankets and Full House reruns. Lobster ravioli imports the zesty flavors of Maine's shorelines, the culinary cargo bustling with basil tomato cream sauce and ricotta ($25.95). Carnivores can sink their fangs into a veggie, sausage, and cheese-stuffed loin of pork ($26.95) or moo in a Sicilian dialect for the veal saltimbocca, topped in a sage and brandy cream sauce ($25.95). The lunch menu presents mid-day munchers with an array of pasta-based entrees, meal-sized salads, and sandwich-sized sandwiches, including the cafe deluxe, a chicken breast milanese with avocado, romaine, tomato, prosciutto, and basil-pesto mayo on house-made bread ($7.95).
At Coal, chefs stoke fiery coals inside the kitchen's pizza oven, which bakes the eatery's signature thin-crust pizzas at temperatures of up to 800 degrees. Pizzas emerge from the oven with a lightly charred, crispy crust and crowned with toppings such as meatballs, prosciutto, truffle oil, and caramelized onions. Coal also bakes its sandwiches in the pizza oven, including the saltimbocca Giorgio, with prosciutto and mozzarella on housemade bread, and roasts its chicken wings over the same glowing embers.
The cooks at Cafe Spezia prepare more than two dozen house-made pasta, chicken, veal, and seafood entrees and complement them with refreshing salads and sandwiches. Penne pasta is sautéed with sweet sausage and broccoli rabe in a white-wine sauce, and the lobster bolognese's diced lobster blends with cream and grape tomatoes over a bed of linguine. Grilled North Atlantic salmon is drizzled with citrus vinaigrette, and egg-battered shrimp francese is sautéed in lemon butter and white wine.