Rulli?s culinarians dish up pizzas, pasta, and seafood dishes born from recipes central to southern Italy, serving patrons in their 25-year-old dining area at their Middlebury location or at their newest spot in Elkhart. A range of appetizers, such as 12 broaster-style chicken wings accompanied by dunk tanks of barbecue, ranch, or vidalia onion sauce, pave the way for heartier main courses or Stooge-level food fights. Velvety ricotta, parmigiana, romano, and provonello cheeses comprise the lasagna?s melty strata, which trundle italian sausage toward forks on fragrant avalanches of marinara and signature sauce. Rulli?s pizza, which has been served at the Elkhart County Fair for two decades, bristles with inventive toppings such as spaghetti and meatballs.
Vivid Italian artwork and murals from local artist Rocky Weaver pepper the dining room, a delightful prelude to the neighboring Rulli's Bella Luna sports bar?s fun neon signage, clacking pool balls, flickering high-definition TVs, and live music. Foam-flecked taps line the full-service bar boasting a selection of robust wines, which nicely complement rowdy bands wailing or grape stomping live atop a well-appointed stage.
Samuel Mancino's Italianate empire extends throughout the Midwest, each outpost stocked with a menu of fresh-baked grinders and pizzas loaded with hearty ingredients. A troika of ham, hard salami, and spicy italian sausage powers the signature italian grinder ($6.49 for an 8"), spurred on to its task of filling bellies by green pepper, onion, and melted mozzarella. Mancino's chefs toss dough by hand to give it a fluffy texture and one bittersweet taste of freedom before it meets its fate as a foundation for pizzas laden with fresh, gourmet toppings such as chicken and garlic, or ham, bacon, and pineapple ($15.99+ for a large). For dessert, piping-hot breadsticks return in sugary eveningwear as sweet Cinna-Stix ($5.99).
The Electric Brew is a fair-trade-certified coffeehouse serving coffee that is roasted in-house and brewed fresh daily, along with fresh baked goods and tasty lunch fare. The menu gets a steamy start with five daily varieties of whole-bean gourmet-brewed coffee ($1.49–$1.69), as well as a variety of hot and cold specialty drinks such as hot tea ($1.49) and hot chai tea ($3.04–$3.64). Kids can warm their mini-organs with a kid-sized hot cocoa ($0.75), which is a mildly warm, yet equally scrumptious version of the original ($2.38-$2.80). The menu of caffeine-complementing cuisine includes soups, salads, and sandwiches that, like the slowest county-fair Ferris wheel ever, rotate daily. Rib stickers such as chicken barley soup ($3.25–$4.25), Santa Fe black-bean salad ($5.15), and chicken salad on brew bread ($3.75–$5.95) have all appeared recently. Other menu munchies include handmade baked goods such as coffeecakes, streusels, muffins, brownies, and homemade cinnamon rolls.
Venturi's master chefs forge wood-fired neapolitan pizzas dotted with fresh ingredients and house-made mozzarella. The menu, like people's receptiveness to caroling, changes with the seasons; recent options have included the Pesto e Ricotta with its house-made sauce of pine nuts and garlic. Artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and prosciutto di parma mingle atop the Capricciosa, and the Cherry Bomb's mozzarella, basil, and cherry tomatoes join forces to create a simple but flavorful feast.
In 2006, Paul Cataldo proved his pizza street cred by competing with the World Pizza Champions in Salsomaggiore, Italy. Paul and his family are first-generation Italians, and they have made it their mission to bring their Old World, southern Italian recipes stateside with Antonio’s Italian Ristorante. In the central dining room, sponge-painted beige walls and red clay tiles evoke a rustic Tuscan villa. Crisp tablecloths populate with fish and veal entrees and an array of gourmet pizzas, such as the U.S. Pizza Team's award-winning rosemary pie. After spearing forks through saucy pastas, guests can kindle romance on the outdoor patio with a bottle of wine, or kindle the tablecloth by aggressively rubbing two breadsticks together.
The terms “coward” and “brave” are neither insults nor compliments at Bangkok Place Thai Restaurant; rather, they signify the level of spiciness a customer can handle. Chef Keo Phannavong and his wife Ann helm the casual eatery, where Keo brings 20 years of experience—and a slew of his mother’s recipes—to the kitchen. Using fresh ingredients, such as basil leaves, lemon grass, coconut milk, and chili, the master chef concocts a wide range of authentic Thai dishes that pack as little or as much spice as the patron desires or can trick his date into eating. The restaurant offers familiar Thai favorites, such as pad thai and tom yum soup, as well as some more obscure entrees, such as pla jien—a steamed fish topped with ginger and baby corn.