Linguini, penne, spaghetti, and fettuccini—the chefs at Carolina’s Italian Restaurant have been preparing pasta in its many incarnations for more than three decades. But their time-tested cooking techniques aren't the only reason for the robust flavors in their classic Italian cuisine. Ingredients are delivered five times a week, ensuring that each tomato is as fresh as the day its life coach finally coaxed it off the stem. Quality seafood and meats such as Atlantic salmon and new york steak put a finishing touch on many entrees.
After diners polish off their meals, they can indulge in a dessert such as housemade tiramisu or cannoli drizzled with chocolate syrup. Then, they can lean back and admire the wall murals of Italian countryside and verandas, or watch confused airplanes circle the ceiling's painted blue sky.
At Georgio's Pizza & Subs, the Meat Lovers pizza has to contend with the Athena: a pesto-covered disk decked in roasted red peppers, kalamata olives, eggplant, feta cheese, and pine nuts. The Athena is just one of four vegetarian combinations that share menu space with 10 other specialty pies, such as the barbecue chicken and the classic margherita. Though their topping options span a wide spectrum, all of them lie atop hand-spun, housemade dough.
The word housemade permeates much of the Italian menu, preceding several of its pasta sauces, the meatballs in its submarine sandwiches, and the breadsticks in its appetizer section. Salads, calzones, and calamari constitute savory side plates, and slices of original New York–style cheesecake conclude meals with the rich decadence of some French palace.
Owner and CNN Hero, Bruno Serato, presents diners with variegated menus packed with Italian and seafood entrees prepared under the culinary eye of Executive Chef Eddie Meza. Bob for apples of dough with the gnocchi gorgonzola, with small potato and flour dumplings soaking up the flavor of tomato and gorgonzola sauce ($14.95 lunch; $19.95 dinner). The restaurant's signature dish, brasato piemontese, sports boneless beef short ribs braised in an italian barolo reduction for three hours and topped with a touch of horseradish and a dash of extravagance ($22.95 lunch; $30.50 dinner). Steamed salmon sweetens its style atop belgiun white chocolate mashed-potato purée ($23.95 lunch; $29.95 dinner), and the pesce bianco's sautéed whitefish inherits a spicy attitude by hanging around moroccan couscous and japanese peppers ($17.95 lunch only).