The ambrosial aroma of Italian spices fills the air inside Pizza Time Caffé, which dishes up an extensive menu of pizza and traditional Italian favorites. The thin-and-crispy Grandma pizza with fresh mozzarella and marinara sauce ($21.99) and the pizza caprese with fresh plum tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil ($15.99) are Italian-style pies that transport diners to the old country. Meanwhile, a 16-inch New York–style hand-tossed crust topped with mozzarella ($14.99), and additional toppings such as pepperoni or ricotta ($1.50 each), brings tears of joy to Empire State eyes faster than Derek Jeter turning a double play before saving twin babies from a burning building. Adventurous appetites can try a specialty pie such as the mashed-potato pizza with bacon and three cheeses ($26.95) to rebel against the traditional rules of pizza creation. For those seeking a less disk-based cheese-and-sauce infusion, Pizza Time Caffé offers an astounding variety of Italian classics such as lasagna ($12.99) and eggplant rollatini twisted up with ricotta cheese and prosciutto and served with tomato sauce and pasta ($14.99). A wide selection of subs suits hands-on diners in a hurry while cappuccinos ($4 each) and espressos ($2.50 each) keep their engines running.
Executive chef Kevin Lee's 20-year career rolling sushi pays off at Japango. His skills shine at the trendy eatery, where he creates more than 50 varieties of sushi rolls, including the Japango Lobster Bomb—a bundle of tempura lobster, asparagus, and fish eggs encased by a shell of tempura lobster. Lee's experience with cuisines outside of Japan is highlighted as well, as the menu features dishes such as pad thai and beef and broccoli.
Japango's popularity has warranted an expansion to two new locations. Both hot spots mimic the original restaurant's modern vibe, characterized by clean lines and dim, tear-drop lighting, which sets the mood for a romantic evening or a tantalizing game of footsie with a table leg.
If it lives in the ocean, there's a good chance The Whale Raw Bar and Fish House serves it on its menu. From dolphin to lobster and shrimp to clams the chefs prepare a spread of fresh seafood, including a full raw bar and entrees that come in the form of sandwiches, tacos, and fajitas. The interior of the dining area makes for a fitting accomplice to the menu's selection, with lobster and crab traps on display and a stuffed orca whale suspended from the ceiling. Outside, patio dining enhances meals with lakeside breezes.
Many of NYC's favorite Italian-American specialties can be found more than a thousand miles away at Trio's Deli & Pizzeria. Chefs sprinkle thin-crust pizzas with a custom mix of sauces, cheeses, and toppings and toss wings in a signature buffalo sauce. However the cornerstone of Trio's is its deli fare: hot and cold sandwiches are piled high with layer upon layer of deli meats, cheese, and spicy peppers. For an extra meat fix, chefs can pair sandwiches with sides such as sauce-topped meatballs.
In a space described by the owners as "rustic chic," Saporissimo’s chefs knead and roll out fresh pasta dough, shave pungent truffles, and prepare wild game to populate a menu that celebrates traditional Tuscan cuisine. Named a defender of Italian culinary excellence by the Italy-America chamber of commerce and praised in the Sun Sentinel for its “unobtrusive, yet attentive” service, Saporissimo seats its guests in chocolate-hued chairs next to white tablecloths in the dining room of what used to be a private house. From the muted yellow walls, sunlight streams through windows during the day to alight on plates of Italian cuisine that Miami's Italian consul general has recognized as authentic, including antipasti of duck-breast carpaccio or a truffled polenta with wild-boar ragu.
Strings of party lights along the ceiling create a warm, low-lit atmosphere at night, encouraging intimate conversations and clandestine swaps of microfiche between bites of pappardelle with wild-boar sausage or wild rabbit braised with wine, garlic, and peppers. Inset into an exposed-brick wall, a six-pane window augments the feeling of dining in a private Tuscan home.
For John Offerdahl, the aroma of meat sizzling on the grill stirs memories of his family's barbecues in rural Wisconsin. Even when John grew up and became a linebacker for the Miami Dolphins, he couldn't escape that enticing smell?it would waft into the stadium from fans tailgating outside and the mascots who secretly stuffed their costumes with cheeseburgers. So it was only natural that, after retiring from football, John would once again find himself at the grill when he and his wife Lynn opened Offerdahl's Cafe Grill in 2000. The couple were no strangers to the restaurant business; they had previously owned a chain of bagel shops. This venture, however, would prove more ambitious?they devised menus of classic American cuisine that could be served up fast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a focus on fresh-grilled fare.
Today, Offerdahl's Cafe Grill has expanded to seven locations, but its flavorful, no-frills meals remain the same. "Johnny O's Famous Bagels" still take the starring roles during breakfast, waking diners up with flavors like cinnamon crumb, pumpernickel, and fruit-and-nut. But once breakfast turns to lunch and dinner, the grill takes over. Chefs swiftly cook up steak, chicken, and salmon, serving the proteins over rice, pasta, or salad with homemade dressings. They also grill chicken sandwiches and burgers, in a nod to the caf?'s backyard barbecue roots.