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.
Asian Top Restaurant’s menu combines Chinese fare with a full sushi bar and features periodic specials such as crab legs on Friday and Saturday night. Appetizers of fried or steamed dumplings make way for pan-fried noodles with chicken, beef, and shrimp or plates of spicy szechuan chicken. Sushi chefs use california rolls as a base for several other cylindrical creations, topping the cream-cheesy favorite with fresh eel, baked spicy scallops, or a duet of salmon and avocado. Cajun rolls of spicy crawfish and smelt roe also glide forth from the sushi bar alongside plates of tuna tataki, up to 10 pieces of seared tuna served with ponzu sauce. An all-you-can-eat buffet—served seven days a week from lunch through dinner—encourages culinary adventure and soothes the indecisive with spreads of sushi, barbecue spare ribs, coconut shrimp, mussels, and a full dessert bar.
A shelf lined with large apothecary jars runs the length of Grapevine Olive Oil Company's airy shop. Of course, the shop is not a pharmacy, and the jars don’t contain medicine—the stainless-steel containers are actually fustis, which preserve olive oil for shopkeepers to dispense samples. The shop houses dozens of eclectic flavored oils and vinegars, such as Persian-lime olive oil, espresso balsamic vinegar, and—the owner's favorite—wild-mushroom-and-sage olive oil. The olive oils come from all over the world, though each vinegar hails from the storehouses of Modena, Italy. To simplify the diverse selection, shopkeepers can suggest recipes and blends of the dressings—basil olive oil paired with fig balsamic vinegar goes well with pastas, for example, and blood-orange olive oil and tangerine balsamic vinegar turn into an edible shampoo.
Hints of French and Italian cuisine mingle with Texas culinary traditions at Dino’s Steak and Claw House, where chefs deconstruct classic surf and turf inside a vintage bank building. In the kitchen, they slice fresh garlic and heirloom tomatoes between trips to the grill, which sizzles with 8-ounce beef fillets and 20-ounce porterhouses. Lobster can be ordered with a crabmeat crust or a puffy jacket of ravioli and a pistachio-froth scarf. Meals unfold atop white linen tablecloths dotted with fresh floral arrangements, and chandeliers illuminate the dining room with a glow as warm and inviting as a welcome mat made of jalapeños. Work by local artists accents the entire scene, and grand-piano ticklings turn up the classiness to a glass-shattering 11. A black-marble bar adds an extra layer of luxury, which extends to a patio made for al fresco dining.
What started as a clandestine social club in the 1960s for prominent local Italians has since evolved into ZuRoma Restaurant, a family of eateries where chefs cook meals using 40-year-old recipes. These recipes rely upon many homemade ingredients, so each day ZuRoma's kitchens bustle with staffers building meatballs and sausages from scratch and crafting menu items such as specialty pizzas and subs with red sauce and provolone spooned from a cauldron of melted moon rocks. Customers can choose to dine in the North Richland Hills location, order carry out from either location, or call ZuRoma's faithful delivery drivers to ferry Italian eats directly to their door.
Owners Steve and JoAnn Barker sling their spicy creations—which include 12 to 15 types of tamales and 35 varieties of house-made salsa—from their own store between Ball and Scribner, and at the Grapevine Farmer’s Market on Main Street. Served hot or frozen and prepared without gluten, Tommy’s tamales teem with fresh and creative ingredients, from pumpkin and sweet potato to spinach and cinnamon, with vegetarian options and a breakfast tamale stuffed with sausage and potato. An epic spread of mild to hot house-made salsas seize their spiciness from panoplies of different peppers, including habaneros and serranos, and part their piquant surfs for crispy tortilla chips and roving bands of piñatas.