Chef Dennis Lewis of Ursula's Wine Bar & Cafe draws from his cornucopia of seasonal produce, sourced from local farmers, to craft his monthly changing menu. It’s a menu that has earned OpenTable Diners' Choice Awards for "Best Food" and "Best Overall" experience. In the kitchen, Chef Lewis chops greens from local producers, including Twin Pine Farm, Grandmas Bakery, and Pine Tree Apple Orchard, to toss with blueberry-balsamic vinaigrettes and curried, creamy coconut dressings. His monthly updated menu has included appetizers such as goat-cheese gratin with sun-dried tomatoes and spicy red-pepper hummus with warm flatbread. The kitchen team also prepares entrees that are seasonally inspired, like reindeer lawn ornaments and air-conditioner window decorations. An example of this seasonal food is the pork loin rubbed with ancho-chipotle chili and served with pumpkin mashed potatoes and bacon brown butter. The dining area accommodates 39 guests, meaning there are more than three times as many varieties of domestic and imported wines—150 to be exact—as there are guests at any given time. There’s also an outdoor patio, where wine flights can be sipped while plane flights sip the sky overhead.
Acqua-Forest Lake's passionate clientele like to spread the word about their favorite eatery, and their word-of-mouth reviews culminated in three OpenTable Diners’ Choice Awards for best ambiance, Italian food, and view. Tucked into the northern shore of Forest Lake, this restaurant allows patrons to stare out at blue waters and lush tree lines punctuated by the occasional sasquatch as they feast on Executive Chef Chris Whalen’s upscale Italian cuisine. Whalen twirls spaghetti around sautéed tiger shrimp and pairs broiled cold-water-lobster tail with truffle risotto and clarified butter. His shareable dishes include pizza with Calabrese Italian Sausage and fresh mussels sautéed in garlic, parsley, and cream.
Wayfarers recline among plush furnishings and soothing décor while inhaling the pleasant vapors of The Hookah Hideout's 50 shisha flavors. Pack pipes with exotic tastes including strawberry, coconut, or chocolate mint before turning attention to action unfolding across the lounge’s myriad in-house board games. Split a single flavor between two people ($20), or call in a second hookah for a tasty combination ($25) and admire the room’s tastefully dimmed lighting or debate the etymological origins of the word “Yahtzee.” As patrons puff, the lounge’s wait staff ventures from table to table with menus of bottomless gourmet coffee ($4), and vending machines dispense hunger-busting snacks.
The youngest of nine children, Luna Rossa?s owner and chef, Raffaele Virgillo, grew up at his mother?s side, studying her every move as she cooked in the kitchen of their small cottage in southern Italy. Emigrating to the United States in the 1970s, Virgillo put the culinary skills and magical Italian incantations he learned from his mother to use here in the States. He settled in the Twin Cities, where he cooked his way through four restaurants before opening the original Buona Sera, and eventually, Luna Rossa. There, he works alongside his daughter, Anna, son-in-law, Jesse, and grandson, Vinny, and granddaughter Gigi serving a menu of Italian-inspired cuisine within a rustic eatery near Stillwater?s historic limestone caves.
After modeling their first eatery, ROMA Restaurant, after the Roman Empire, Chef Brent Pilrain and his family opted to try something new, setting their sights on a colonial American theme. So when the family was greeted with the opportunity to open up a new kitchen in Liberty Village, the birth of Patriots Tavern seemed like kismet. Today, Chef Pilrain keeps up the colonial theme in both cuisine and décor, churning out a menu of New England–inspired fare and wood-oven-fired pizzas within a whitewashed mansion. Rich mahogany and stone details create a warm yet spacious interior dabbled with American flags and historical knickknacks, such as lanterns and George Washington’s original set of wooden press-on nails.
Since 1986, 7th Street Tavern, formerly known as Champps Americana, has served up burgers and classic American dishes, satiating sports fans and families with a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. Amid the sunlit dining room, diners at wooden tabletops have views of 25 TVs broadcasting sports games, competing with a cluster of arcade games for eyes' attention. Chefs cater to taste buds by plumping up pastas with chicken, shrimp, and vegetables and piling rolls with beef patties, barbecued pulled pork, and spicy buffalo chicken. Behind the bar, bartenders whip up specialty cocktails and margaritas and fill goblets with an expansive selection of draft beers and wine. The bar and grill draws guests with regular specials and events throughout the week, including daily happy hours, Thursday-night trivia, and Sunday brunch. Every Tuesday, the restaurant serves up free meals to children, as a magician saunters table to table, entertaining kids with tricks and balloon art, crafting replacement siblings on request.