Red Hen Bistro's made-from-scratch menu revolves around the fresh, seasonal meats, fish, and produce in French and Californian cuisine. Francophiles will feel conflicted in trying to select only one dish, be it the croque madame, an upscale ham-and-cheese sandwich topped with a sunny-side-up egg ($10.95), or the salad nicoise, a hearty helping of organic greens crowned with roasted potatoes and hard-boiled eggs ($8.95). California dreamers can sample West Coast–inspired temptations such as tamales with braised pork ($8.95) and fish tacos served in crisp tortillas ($9.95). Simplicity seekers can opt for the tomato soup and grilled cheese ($9.95) while enjoying the restaurant’s attention to detail—evident in both the food and front-of-house service. With rich-red walls, large windows boasting street views, and touches of French country charm, Red Hen Bistro exudes an air of casual intimacy, though lacy nightclothes are discouraged.
When he cofounded his first sandwich shop in 1965, 17-year-old Fred DeLuca planned to use his profits to pay his way through medical school. But the combination of quality ingredients and friendly service at the shop?then called Pete's Subway?proved so popular that nine years later, he and his partner found themselves in charge of 16 locations across Connecticut, and Fred left behind his doctoring plans for a career in business.
Today, Subway restaurants number over 34,000 around the world?almost as many shops as there are sightings of Elvis buying cold cuts. At each location, staffers pile sliced ham, marinara-slathered meatballs, and other fillings into halved loaves of bread before customizing handhelds with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and other healthy toppings plucked from chilled containers behind the counter. Salads free crisp veggies from bread's overprotective embrace, and crunchy baked chips or apple slices accompany entrees to tables. Subway's website also facilitates health-conscious eating by listing each item's nutrition information and fastest mile time online.
Bensi co-owner Genci Previzi helms an immense menu of classic Italian cuisine, including hearty homestyle dishes with roots in Calabria, Italy. Entrees, joined by a house salad or cup of comforting housemade soup, range from spaghetti and meatballs to gluten-free grilled chicken in a lemon-garlic marinade served over a veggie medley. The chefs also prepare an array of specials such as pignoli-crusted goat cheese and arugula salad, barolo-braised veal osso buco, pan-seared Chilean sea bass with eggplant caponata, and nutella chocolate pizza with fresh strawberries. The dishes are served in a modern dining atmosphere where minimal table settings and simple dark-wood furniture keep the focus on the vibrant cuisine.
At K & J's Ice Cream Shop, you can eat pumpkin pie without a fork. That's because the shop's 40-some flavors include several varieties inspired by time-honored desserts. In addition to pumpkin pie, there's Twinkie, Almond Joy, and raspberry cheesecake. The creamy selections are supplemented by 25 fruit-flavored italian ices, which cool off tongues faster than a french kiss from a snowman.
For 30 years, Pizzeria Diamici has tossed its piping-hot pies and sauced its flavorful Italian fare from the same spot on Hackensack Street. The mouthwatering menu ushers its pleasing pizzas into being the moment they’re ordered, saving them from the complexion-mottling scourge of heat lamps. Gourmet and specialty pies—such as the sun-dried tomato, mushrooms, basil, and mozzarella pie or the spicy, meat-strewn four-alarm ($13.95–$15.95)—arrive loaded with ingredients fresh enough to garner a four-scold rating from the U.S. Department of Schoolmarms. The pizzeria also stuffs its calzones to the seams with savory cheeses, rendering them hefty enough to ensure that any food fight ends in mutually assured destruction.
Gianna’s offers a menu full of upscale, old-world Italian fare, reviving tired taste buds with subtle sauces and precisely prepared pastas. Each dinner entree serves two people, but single orders are also available. Split the vodka-sauce-laced penne with a dinner date ($25.95), or share an order of lasagna with your invisible nemesis ($26.95). Rigatoni with broccoli rabe and sausage fills bureaucratic meat quotas ($29.95), and eggplant parmigiana pleases pairs of plantivores ($23.95). A wine list is also available, so you can pair your meal with a bottle of 2008 Danzante pinot grigio ($25) instead of the FDA-recommended 12-pack of Capri Sun.