Flickering candles and a grand chandelier fill Sam's Ristorante's high-ceilinged dining room with a romantic glow. Graceful arches and painted landscapes foster a classic ambiance that carries through to the menu of traditional Italian cuisine. The kitchen crafts its own marinara sauce in house to add rich flavor to orders of veal parmigiana. Pasta varieties, including angel hair, ravioli, and fettuccine, tangle with morsels of seafood, veggies, and housemade italian sausage in specialty dishes. Sauces made with marsala wine and portobello mushrooms coat chicken breasts and center-cut fillets with more flavor than a spice-rubbed quilt.
Stewart Pizzeria's crafty chefs hand-toss their homemade pizza dough to create flat landing pads for fresh sauce, mounds of cheese, and myriad toppings. Each of their menu's personal pies ($5+), like a studio apartment, offers the freedom to arrange toppings however you'd like within 8 inches of personal space. Diners can conceal their pizza's bareness with a blanket of meats comprised of pepperoni and sausage ($1 each), or honor vegetarian vows with fresh produce including spinach, mushrooms, and jalapenos ($.50 each). Those who would rather leave pizza creation to the professionals can match their appetites against one of Stewart’s specialty pizzas, such as the recently featured hawaiian with home-style ranch sauce, ham, and pineapple ($7). Wash down the gooey goodness with a medium soda ($1.75) or splashes from your neighbor's sprinkler, and add chips or a cookie for a combo meal ($.50 with purchase of a drink).
Papa John's has carefully curated a menu stocked with robust topping options to adorn blank pizza canvases. Unify bubbly discs under a blanketing of freshly cut roma tomatoes, or spice up bites with jalepeño peppers. The pizzeria imports its black olives from Spain's Herrara grove, where they peak in plumpness and accomplish astounding feats of international diplomacy before populating Papa John's pizzas. Meaty options such as grilled all-white-meat chicken, filler-free spicy italian sausage, and hickory-smoked bacon add layers of heartiness to slices, and reinforcing mozzarella with parmesan, romano, or a blend of asiago, provolone, and fontina improves the genetic robustness of cheese.
For more than 25 years, the Salamone family has been feeding Rockford families from a menu of Italian cuisine made from Old-World recipes, including baked lasagna and bone-in filet mignon. Diners enjoy their meals in one of a series of connected dining rooms, which give the restaurant the feel of an inviting Old-World home. To complement the classic menu, Ricky, the in-house sommelier, uses his extensive knowledge of the restaurant's varietals to help guests pick the perfect pairing from a selection of chiantis, brunellos, merlots, and bordeaux. Guests can imbibe their spirits in the wine room or lounge.
Franchesco's also houses several private dining rooms, a banquet area, and a patio. Each area fills with laughter and bonding during special events including comedy shows, dueling pianos, and themed parties.
The dough spinners at Mancuso's toss up a menu of pizzas, pastas, and sandwiches that captivate even the most capricious of appetites. Occupy fickle phalanges with finger foods, such as the toasted ravioli ($4.35) or the breaded mushrooms ($3.75). With more than 20 hat options for their pizzas, including jalapeño peppers, shrimp, hamburger, and pineapple, diners can create custom pies or spice up a CD to satiate an empty stereo. Leave the garnishing up to the experts with one of the savory specialty pizzas, such as the taco pizza, a circular food-receptacle full of seasoned beef, black olives, chips, and salsa (14", $18.30), or bring more portable cuisine, such as pizza by the slice, an italian beef po’boy ($4.75), or the chicken-parmesan sandwich ($6.25) along for a creek-side picnic or your solo cello performance.
Italian-inspired entrees and specialty pizzas star at this casually romantic eatery. Crusts levitate out of kitchens in regular ($7.25 for a small, $10.75 for an extra-large), pan ($9.25–$14.75), and stuffed ($10.25–$15.75) varieties and dress themselves from a wardrobe of 20 different toppings. For diners tired of dipping lasagna in guacamole, the taco pizza ($11.75–$19.75) blends the best of Mexican and Italian cuisines with a pie topped with seasoned ground beef, corn chips, lettuce, and tomato. Alternatively, chicken parmigiana ($9.95) and the italian sausage sandwich ($7.75) keep it as classically Italian as Fonzie gelato molds.