Pino Piroso dedicated himself to founding a distinctive, Roman-style pizzeria, saying that "after years of hard work, we knew we had built something very special." His lauded chain eventually grew to include franchises in six states and two countries outside of the United States. Despite their geographic separation, each location has the same stringent standards for their ingredients and their Exit-sign locations. No kitchen stores pizza fixings in a freezer—instead, the cooks begin every morning by stirring sauces, kneading dough, and dicing fresh seasonal toppings from local farms. The circular or rectangular pies can support as many as 33 of these familiar and nontraditional toppings, such as goat cheese, sweet corn, and roasted chicken.
In large Old-World style letters, August Weber Haus declares its name on its red sign, followed by the telling addendum "Est. 1865." The restaurant preserves much of its vintage charm while serving a modern menu of fondue treats, more than 100 wines, and more than 30 craft beers. Fondue comprises most of the menu, from appetizers to desserts, but only some of it revolves around cheese. Entrees come with hot sauces or flavored oils, with the uncooked morsels following a certain theme. The Sea entree, for instance, boasts bites of scallops, Canadian lobster tail, ahi tuna, and salmon alongside flavors ranging from garlic butter to wasabi soy.
A sign outside of Sir James Pub's storefront modestly advertises "Imported Beer." What it fails to mention is the gargantuan selection of more than 550 brews available inside. Along with several cans and drafts, Sir James houses 500-plus bottles hailing from renowned craft breweries such as Samuel Smith and Dogfish Head, named for the gilled canine that pens all the brewery's recipes.
Knowledgeable about all the pub's pours, bartenders happily help patrons navigate the menu or select whiskeys, bourbons, or scotches to pair with their brews. To further complement its libations, Sir James frequently hosts events such as beer and cheese tastings, live music, and karaoke.
Attentive diners will notice a few things missing from Taste of Africa’s meals—wheat, barley, and rye. The naturally gluten-free entrees also eschew dairy products, relying instead on tomato sauce or egg to thicken their sauces and stews. One such specialty stew, red red, blends fried plantains and baked beans; another mild option, pili-pili, combines cabbage, meat, and red beans to create an African-style chili. Traditional African spices ignite other meals, from plates of grilled goat to tilapia fillets. Not to be outdone, vegetarian dishes such as saffron or coconut rice soak up swells of the eatery’s signature sauces, which are flavored with unsweetened peanut butter or egusi spice. Diners can also take home glass jars of these sauces to share with whatever friends they have left after the glue stick incident.
In addition to the authentically prepared cuisine on the menu, Taste of Africa sells gifts handmade by African artisans. Every $15 spent on the collection of clothing, jewelry, and raw shea butter provides a meal for a child in a Congolese or Senegalese orphanage.
If the walls of The Port Hotel could talk, they'd tell a tale dating back to 1902. In that year, John F. Thill tore down an existing hotel and tavern and constructed a brand-new one comprised of 40 guest rooms, which is four times the number you’ll find today. Thill installed electric lighting and warmed the rooms with steam heat—both luxurious features in those days. The hotel closed down in 1973, but the restaurant maintained a lively business.
The summer of 2005 saw the grand reopening of The Port Hotel, restored to its original state of elegance with 10 uniquely appointed guest rooms and chef-prepared breakfasts served in bed. Joseph Zankl and his family now operate this historic property, preserving its turn-of-the century charm while introducing modern amenities such as wireless Internet and plasma picture boxes.
Beach volleyball is traditionally a summertime sport, but it's a year-round affair at Bic's Place. In addition to two outdoor sand courts, the sports bar shelters two indoor sand courts, all of which host league games and tournaments. Perfect for postgame celebrating or commiserating, Bic's Place's menu includes sports bar staples such as deep-fried macaroni and cheese, housemade pizza, and wings tossed in one of more than 10 sauces, including Wild Turkey bourbon. Bartenders behind the curving wooden bar help pair each meal with the right libation, while eight big-screen TVs stay tuned to the latest sports until at least 2 a.m. six nights a week.