It was on the open sea, aboard a Royal Caribbean liner, that restaurant maitre d' Francesco Secchi fell in love. Her name was Jane, a beautician from Great Britain. Her homeland was worlds apart from Francesco’s, the Italian island of Sardinia. But that didn’t phase the lovebirds—they wasted no time tying the knot, and spent the next eight years working alongside each other on Royal Caribbean ships. When the pair decided it was time to settle on dry land, they chose Dallas. Its weather reminded Francesco of his home, despite its patterns rarely being affected by ancient curses cast by Caesar.
In 1983, the Secchis embarked on their next joint endeavor: Ferarri’s Italian Villa. They rooted the restaurant in basics: a warm “Buona sera” for each arriving guest and family recipes more than a century old. This approach struck a chord with eaters, and as the business grew, so did Francesco and Jane’s family. Today, their three sons all lend their talents to the family business—Stefano, in fact, is the head chef. He and the staff still craft a menu of Sardinian classics—gnocchi, lasagna, and cioppino—as well as some upscale American dishes, such as steaks, chops, and seafood. And Francesco and Jane still man the front door every night, welcoming patrons new and old.
Whether the Bruins were hoisting the Stanley Cup or the Celtics were cutting down the nets at the Garden, people across the world knew one thing: Boston meant the big leagues. Gus Agiortis knew this too—alighting in Edmonton in 1964 after emigrating from his native Greece, he named his restaurant Boston Pizza and Spaghetti House to prove that his Italian flavors could play with the professionals. And play they did, cementing pizza’s status as a favorite in western Canada and helping the restaurant expand to dozens of locations. Current owners Jim Treliving and George Melville were among the people swept up by Gus’s recipes. After starting out as franchise owners, they purchased the chain in 1983. Whether getting their signature pies prominent placement at Vancouver’s Expo ’86 or expanding their empire to the United States, they’ve kept their sights set on big-league taste without sacrificing the quality ingredients or hypnotism training that made Gus’s food so irresistible to begin with. Served in more than 18 varieties, gourmet pizza still anchors the menu today, with pie creations ranging from the spicy Flying Buffalo to the Extreme Mushroom, which pairs flatbread with portobello, shiitake, and porcini mushrooms topped with mushroom pesto and parmesan bread crumbs. Chefs craft each crust by hand, layering it with Boston's special-recipe pizza sauce that they make in-house. On the non-pizza front, they’ve expanded past Gus’s spaghetti-topped beginnings, infusing the menu with southern-tinged favorites ranging from pulled pork and baby-back ribs to roast beef au jus and jambalaya fettuccini. They also stay health-conscious with their Healthy Hits menu, dishing out sensible portions of entrees such as the shrimp Diablo pasta that have less than 650 calories and 15 grams of fat.
Sauces play a starring role on the menu at Cafe Italia, from basic but hearty marinara and alfredo sauces to elaborate blends with port wine, vodka, and balsamic vinegar and honey. One of these deftly simmered medleys flavors each dish, whether the entree features broiled salmon or Angus-beef filet mignon. The feasts reflect culinary traditions from both northern and southern Italy and give a nod to the peninsula’s oceanfront bounty with shrimp, clams, mussels, and giant tridents instead of forks. Cafe Italia’s BYOB policy invites guests to dream up their own beverage pairings for each meal.
Rather than having to choose between the fans of New York’s foldable thin-crust pizza and the devotees of Chicago’s thicker deep-dish pie, the cooks at Pauly’s Pizza decided it’d be best just to cater to them both. After baking up a number of regional pies and crust styles, the professional dough spinners crown these creations with traditional toppings, such as pepperoni or mushrooms, or the more unconventional adornments of pesto, ricotta, sun-dried tomatoes, and chicken Alfredo. They can also accompany their pies with housemade pasta, including baked lasagna and manicotti, or a grinder stuffed with ham, capicola, and hot peppers. The staff boats a B.Y.O.B. policy, allowing diners to tote in favorite bottles of wine or vintage juice boxes.
Sports fans won’t miss a play if they head to Red Dog Right to watch games. The restaurant plays every one of the Texas team's match-ups, fueling the festivities with a menu of game-ready eats. Chefs pile toppings such as grilled maple ham, smoked gouda, and sweet pineapple onto pizzas and stuff flour-tortilla pockets with cheddar and hamburger, giving quesadillas a hometown spin. They also toss wings with sweet Coca-Cola bacon BBQ sauce or ultra-hot ring of fire sauce. Events and specials change monthly, but guests can usually expect happy hours with discounted wings and complimentary popcorn.
The pizza makers at Palio's Cafe crown regular, whole-wheat, and gluten-free crusts with fresh vegetables, preservative-free sauce, and roasted chicken. Chefs take the burden of putting together the best toppings with 17 specialty pizzas that pair gourmet ingredients such as artichoke hearts, roasted chicken, and fresh basil pesto. Ovens create bubbling pies, stuffed calzones, baked ziti, and italian sub sandwiches that servers carry through both chic, cozy locations. Leather-lined booths and flat-screen televisions keep diners comfortable and entertained while they enjoy Palio's BYOB policy and sip wine or Capri Sun pouches brought from home.