At Aroma D’ Italia, a spaghetti dish topped with shrimp, clams, and gaeta olives is dubbed Spaghetti Alla Frank Sinatra, after the Italian-American musical icon. The rest of the menu, however, evokes Italian tradition more straightforwardly. The linguine with clams, fluke coated in breadcrumbs, and other seafood dishes evoke Italy’s coastline; meanwhile, Italian touches such as prosciutto stuffing accent other gourmet proteins, from pork chops to steaks. Groups can also opt for family-style meals, sharing platters of pastas, appetizers, and entrees.
The chefs at International Food House keep buffet lines stocked with an unlimited supply of Dominican-inspired comfort food 24 hours a day. Diners can load their plates with pieces of fried chicken and construct a secret language out of crunching noises, or carve up churrasco-style meats to silence a grumbling belly. Going for the record, succulent oxtail climbs mountains of white rice and vegetables to discover that pepper steak and simmered pork have already scaled the steaming peaks. Home-style specialties such as conch stew fill bellies with warm grub, saving money on the day's heating bills. Because today's Groupon places no limit on how much food can be consumed, diners can feast to their hearts' content, or at least until their stomachs cry “uncle.”
Beans and Vines whets appetites with a delectable selection of worldly vino, piquant sandwiches and paninis, and rich coffees. Pick a bottle from the carefully culled collection of wine; a charming Chilean bicentennial chardonnay ($30) or a smooth-talking Italian Monte Maria chianti ($30) will inspire romantic nights or induce sentimental phone calls to estranged vineyards.
Dominican native Sara Taveras, her husband, restaurateur Luis Taveras, and Caña y Café's new executive chef Roberto Ferrer inject contemporary technique as well as European, Asian, and Caribbean flare into Latin-fusion recipes to create vivid, metropolitan cuisine. Flavorsmiths prime palates with a selection of appetizers that includes the pulpo a la brasa al estilo Mediterraneo, where Mediterranean-style octopus grills atop a bed of charcoal before curling up beside a pool of black-olive tapenade. Brimming with aquatic and earthly morsels, the paella Valenciana tosses shrimp, scallops, chicken, and chorizo into an ocean of saffron Arborio rice and sherry for diners to spear with miniature tridents. A grouper fillet struts out to tables alongside fresh crabmeat, spinach risotto, and chardonnay-butter sauce to create the mero relleno de cangrejo. The chuleton de puerco accessorizes its frenched pork chop with a Francophile trio of mushroom ragu, gorgonzola-truffle butter, and a spinach mustache.
Built by the humble hands of an Inwood inhabitant, Garden Cafe's serene surroundings envelop customers with an eclectic array of carefully crafted brunch, lunch, and dinner fare. Nestle into the café's welcoming embrace of soft yellows, earth tones, and glossy wood décor as the gentle glow of twinkling lights casts a romantic presence over the assembled hunger-havers. Nibble on crab cakes with kiwi-mango salsa and red-pepper coulis ($9.50), or tantalize taste buds with a pumpkin and sage ravioli in a garlic cream sauce ($13). An extensive selection of craft beers and wines keeps palates refreshed and ready to tackle a dessert, such as bread pudding with Grand Marnier sauce and vanilla ice cream ($6). Early birds and time-travelers forced to live between past and present can partake of brunch, savoring the likes of huevos rancheros ($8.50) or buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup ($6.50).