When John Barrett Jr. and Mike Sipes bought Greystone Grill, they made a few crucial decisions. They replaced some menu items, lowered the prices, changed the name, and retained the original serving staff. But perhaps the most important addition John and Mike made was bringing in John Barrett Sr. to make sure they never succumb to "delusions of grandeur."
In the dining room, chandeliers sprout with purple bulbs and glass planter cases bloom with bonsai-style trees?a natural touch that starkly contrasts with the eatery's industrial, stacked-stone walls and steel-gray banquettes. Servers depart from the kitchen, their arms balancing plates of maryland crab cakes, wine-infused rack of lamb, and fish fillets dressed with mustard and capers. Barrett's chefs also take a modern approach to sandwich making, pairing Angus beef burgers with pineapple, short ribs with chili mayonnaise, and hand-cut fries. Adding to the upscale, yet relaxed ambiance, Barrett's Grill hosts live jazz and features half-priced bottles of wine on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
The owners of Pasta Blitz employ recipes and cooking techniques inherited from their Neapolitan mother to create a menu of homemade pastas, grilled seafood, and veal-based entrees. Mirroring the aesthetic of an Italian trattoria, the restaurant’s relaxed, convivial atmosphere puts diners at ease as they indulge in authentic delicacies such as baked ziti, mushroom risotto, and calamari with caper-and-lemon sauce. Once the sun sets, the restaurant transforms from a casual eatery into an intimate spot for first dates or an awkward location for traffic-court proceedings.
The menu at Arlon's is even more accommodating than the carryout policy. Spanning classic dishes of American, Italian, and Indian cuisine, everything is available for preparation for gatherings large and small. Submarine sandwiches and stromboli are served among other popular hand-held eats, while entrees include house-made crab cakes and tandoori-style chicken and fish curries. Between all these eclectic dishes, though, the chefs are hard at work crafting their signature dish: thin-crust pizzas made with fresh dough and and a trusty sauce recipe. House specialties include the buffalo chicken pizza drizzled in spicy sauce and bleu cheese, and the seafood pizza, which features shimp and crabmeat seasoned with cocktail sauce and Old Bay.
Customization is the word at Dominick's Pizza, where guests can tailor hand-tossed pizzas and overstuffed subs to their liking. Thick, Sicilian-style crusts form serving platters for a choice of 20 toppings, including italian sausage, capicola ham, and sweet peppers. Jumbo wings come in more than a dozen flavors, including Cajun and barbecue. Bolstered by nearly 50 years of history, the pizzeria also specializes in pastas as traditional as an Italian matron’s weekly spaghetti-weaving parties.
The Mediterranean region is home to a range of cultures and culinary traditions. Kiriakos Nikoletos and Tony Marianos decided to combine two of these traditions when they founded Bellagio Pizzeria and filled the menu with classic Italian and Greek dishes. Befitting the eatery's name, pizza is prominently featured on the menu's pages. Diners have the option to choose one of the specialty pies or build their own using any of the 25 traditional and gourmet toppings, including everything from imported ham and onions to shrimp and bacon. Other Italian classics?such as chicken parmigiana and baked manicotti?help round out the menu along with the distinctively Greek assortment of gyro platters, spinach pie, and julienned pages from Plato's Symposium. At the same time, Kiriakos and Tony honor their restaurant's Mid-Atlantic roots by adding crab cakes, crab soup, and other regional staples to the increasingly eclectic menu of homespun comfort foods.
Chef Rocco Gargano grew up in Matera, Italy. The son of a farmer, Rocco developed a deep appreciation for fresh, sun-kissed ingredients at an early age. Both father and son relocated to the United States in 1962, and Rocco longed to use his skills in a fine-dining setting.
Now, inside Rocco's Capriccio in Little Italy, Rocco and his kitchen staff filet fresh fish for specialties such as the grouper livornese with a sauce made from freshly chopped tomatoes, capers, and olives. They thinly slice prosciutto and melt shredded fontina cheese into a cream sauce before spreading both across cuts of filet mignon or models in public-service announcements about food fights. The chirping sound of ice against glass drifts from the bar, where mixologists blend dessert-appropriate martinis made with limoncello and Godiva chocolate liqueur, along with coffee drinks enriched by rum, Baileys, amaretto, and whipped cream. An exhaustively researched and described wine list draws heavily on sangiovese, canaiolo, and trebbiano grapes—Italian fruit much like the crops Rocco tended as a child.