Owners Todd and Lindsay Agren have run Mario's Pizza for more than a decade, and they hope this marks the start of a long line of pizza-makers. This close-knit family dynamic extends to the way they welcome guests at their intimate pizzeria. They also aim to give their meals a home-style feel when using fresh, local produce to whip up authentic Italian dinners, homemade pizzas, wings, and paninis. And many of the savory sauces are house-made. Mario's can even cater special occasions to celebrate birthdays, graduations, or the crowning of the neighborhood Candyland champ.
Philly Pretzel Factory churns out more than 100 million fresh, hand-twisted soft pretzels per year. However, the business wasn't always so big. Initially, it was a one-man operation, and the man in question--current president Dan DiZio--was just 11 years old.
As a kid, Dan loved soft pretzels so much that he sold them on a street corner using an authentic Philly recipe so popular that he often sold out before noon. Nowadays, he manages his inventory better, and the proof is in the pudding: since the bakery's 1998 launch, it has expanded to more than 100 locations. Each outpost serves Dan's signature golden-brown pretzels in assorted flavors, alongside pretzel sausages and bite-sized pretzels, ideal for people with very tiny mouths.
At Renault Winery Resort & Golf, a glimpse into history begins at a wine barrel. Fashioned from the top of an old oak cask, a gold-lettered sign marks the entrance to the state-registered historic site, where staff cultivates and harvests 12 local and international grape varietals across more than 31 acres of vineyards. This flourishing estate owes its existence to one man, whose journey began nearly 150 years ago.
In the mid-1800s, vintner Louis Nicholas Renault plied his trade in Rheims, France. When a parasitic aphid nearly crippled France’s winemaking industry, Renault fled to California, where the insect struck again. He followed rumors of an aphid-resistant American grape varietal to the fields of New Jersey where he found a climate similar to that of his native France—and his winemaking flourished.
Not even Prohibition could halt his operation, which continued under a special permit. After his death in 1948, the winery continued to expand for the next five decades, adding a chateau, 50-room inn, and restaurant by 2001. Since then, Renault Winery has offered lodging and entertainment in addition to the fruits of its vines.
Visitors to the Tuscany House won’t remember crossing the Atlantic Ocean, which is perfectly normal. The House’s decadent lobby, an inner courtyard with a garden, mimics the villas of Italy: its marble columns and curving staircase lead up to a mezzanine constantly patrolled by at least one member of the Swiss Guard. Off the lobby, hallways lead to private rooms and suites filled with king-size beds and heavy wood furnishings.
Joseph's Restaurant melds the estate’s Mediterranean charm with New Jersey influence. Executive Chef Joseph DeGennaro—whom food critic Bob Bickell described as “outstanding” in his Restaurant Report—fills plates with Tuscan burgers and pastas tossed with grilled chicken and lobster.
Arbor-covered corridors and rambling lawns dappled with statuettes lead to the winery. On tours, guides lead visitors past the mixing and fermentation tanks while revealing the steps of the winemaking process. After the tour, groups select samples from more than 32 varieties of wine. The on-site wineglass museum lets groups dive further into the world of wine, displaying glassware dating back to the 13th century.
Visitors don’t have to join in the harvest to experience the grounds firsthand. Vineyard Golf, an 18-hole championship-level course, winds through the rolling vineyards. Players drive down open fairways, avoid five water hazards, and putt onto greens nestled against the rows of plantings.
The chefs at Big John’s Cheesesteaks & More grill up Philly favorites alongside American and Italian-American fare. They place 100% beef and chicken steaks on fresh-baked buns, topping them with cheeses such as mozzarella, provolone, or cheese whiz. Added toppings of bacon, pepperoni, and mushrooms melt right into customers' gooey cheese of choice. Pizzas, sandwiches, burgers, and hoagies, and salads of thai-chili chicken or goat cheese, walnuts, and craisins round out the menu, and a free pickle bar displays more than 13 varieties of pickles that, like people, get wrinkly when soaked in vinegar.
Since the inception of its flagship location in 1973, Golden Corral has continued to load plates with an ever-expanding menu of homestyle fare served in a family-oriented atmosphere. Among the never-ending dinner buffet’s offerings, 15 types of protein, including sirloin steaks cut and aged on the premises, pair with comfort-fare staples such as mac 'n' cheese and banana pudding. At lunch, pot roast simmered for 12 hours and made-from-scratch meatloaf fill the buffet’s ranks, and breakfast promises made-to-order omelets, hearty slices of ham and sausage, and sizzling hash browns. Each of Golden Corral’s locations opens its doors to group events, seating parties of 25 or more, or one house of Congress in recess.