LaRosa Marketplace's enthralling story chronicles the restaurant's growth over four generations from a garage-based sausage shop to a purveyor of delectable sandwiches, wraps, fresh salads, and house-prepared meats. Sate midday pangs with a panini sandwich such as the panino parma, an assemblage of parma prosciutto, veggies, fresh mozzarella, basil, and olive oil packed and grilled into crusty diamonds of flavor perfect for winning a stomach's love ($7.50). A roster of grinders challenges chompers with mounds of savory ingredients such as veal cutlet, sweet or spicy soppressata, marinated beef, and eggplant ($7.50–$9 for a half). Weekly specialties incorporate LaRosa's homemade sausages, made from lean meat with no additives, into dishes such as Thursday's roasted Italian sausage with orrechiette pasta and broccoli rabe ($8.99). Meat eschewers and veggie chewers frolic through a salad menu that includes the antipasto salad, which opens taste buds and pollinates tooth flowers with marinated mushrooms, artichokes, olives, and roasted peppers in a meadow of romaine lettuce ($7.50).
The chefs at Azúcar Latin Bistro don't limit themselves to any one type of cuisine. Instead, they explore the spectrum of Latin American cooking, celebrating the bold flavors of Central and South America. They give equal attention, however, to more traditional dishes, including arroz con pollo, ceviche salvaje, and camarones a la diabla. The restaurant welcomes groups and families to celebrate its fun, tropical roots.
In either location's expansive lounge, bartenders whip up frosty mojitos and margaritas, which pair with a range of small plates. These lounges—and their dance floors—host live bands and DJs, as well as special events ranging from Monday-night salsa lessons to Wednesday-night bilingual karaoke to Thursday-night all-triangle jam sessions.
Vista Alegre, an eatery that opened in January 2013, serves up large portions of traditional Peruvian cuisine. Cooks marinate fresh seafood in lime juice to make refreshing ceviche, sauté pans of piquant Peruvian-style spaghetti, and grill rib-eye steaks to taste. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week.
Family owned and operated, Casa Mia specializes in central and northern Italian recipes. The interior of the restaurant, adorned with stone, brick, and wrought iron, creates a romantic atmosphere fit for a relaxed or intimate meal. Authentic cuisine from the dinner menu includes more than a dozen pasta dishes, along with popular items such as veal scaloppine alla boscaiolo (veal sautéed with garlic, porcini, white wine, butter, and lemon, $24.95) and chicken suprema alla parmigiana ($20.95). Committed to consumption for all mankind, the chefs cater to a variety of diets. Vegetarian options such as melanzane alla parmigiana (eggplant with mozzarella and tomato sauce, $19.95) and pasta primavera ($19.95) embody all the elegance of the Italian flag’s green third, and are much tastier than common flag-making materials.
Dedicated to bringing the culinary traditions of Peru to Hartford’s diners, Piolin Restaurant II has been serving the signature sizzling meats and sautéed veggies of the region since 1998. Within the bustling kitchen, chefs architect dishes such as Peruvian yellow potatoes, sweet plantains, and fried yucca in addition to hearty meats ranging from grilled chicken to fried red snapper. Along with the re-creation of time-honored recipes, the brightly hued walls and cheery decor of Piolin’s dining room grant guests the feeling that they’ve escaped to Peru without the hassles of answering a TSA officer’s riddles.
Casona Restaurant Bar & Lounge combines Latin cuisine with nights of dancing within its mood-lit space. The menu offers dishes from five different Latin American and Caribbean countries, all complemented by a drink list with mojitos, margaritas, and martinis. Different events occur every night the restaurant is open, often including salsa and Zumba lessons, open mics, and live Latin jazz.