A sweeping floor-to-ceiling fireplace in a room illuminated with vintage chandeliers provides ample eye candy for the diners at Giselle's Restaurant. But the rustic aesthetic serves as the supporting character to the eatery?s true star: a panoramic view of Lake Swannanoa. Visible from any seat in the room, the lake offers rippling waters, boaters, and the occasional loon as guests sup on grilled steaks and chicken served seven ways. Chefs also ladle housemade bolognese and pink vodka sauces onto rigatoni noodles and build berry cobblers from scratch. At the bar, guests can nibble on shareable plates of fried calamari and coconut shrimp while sipping martinis and thimbles of wine.
Cousin Pete had a friendly face and knack for remembering names, while cousin Charles had a sharp eye for details and a head for business. But they both had a taste for good Italian food, so it was only natural they would join forces. That’s how Mangia Pizza Restaurant, with its BYOB approach and a menu of Italian favorites, was born—and with a little help from their years of restaurateur and customer-service experience.
Today, it's not uncommon to see cousin Pete meandering his way around the big booths in the brightly lit space, introducing himself to newcomers, swapping jokes with regulars, and discussing local politics with all the babies. As he bustles about the dining room, his chefs are hard at work in the kitchen tossing crispy Neapolitan and Sicilian-style pies with gourmet ingredients such as buffalo chicken and eggplant rollatini. They also layer crunchy paninis with fresh mozzarella, roasted turkey, and grilled chicken, and fold chicken, veal, and seafood into a time-honored dishes that make Mangia a place for not only attentive service, but for good eats.
Walking into Ruppert's, one might expect to see fedora-clad patrons hunkered over their scotches at the rich, dark-wood bar. That’s because the restaurant strives to emulate old New York City bistros and diners from the 1930's and 40's. This nod to the past also surfaces in its name, which comes from Colonel Jacob Ruppert—the owner of the New York Yankees during the Babe Ruth era.
Like the city they take their inspiration from, Ruppert's cooks meld the international with the classically American. These kitchen staffers looked to the north when coming up with the Canadian Mountie burger, and tapped into their inner island dwellers when developing the Jamaican burger, which they top with cold watermelon relish, grilled pineapple, and jack cheese. They also serve up classic, no-frills dishes, such as tuna melts on New York rye and Top Hat Chicken. As diners enjoy theses inventive or traditional spreads, they can tap their two-toned brogues to live entertainment ranging from Elvis impersonators to Lou Pallo, a former member of the Les Paul Trio.
Before settling into Coney Island Pizza, the eatery's dough-spinners manned Coney Island Catering, a mobile wood-fired oven that supplied pies for soirees and corporate functions. The team and its tools still hit the road for catering assignments and special events. For the most part, however, the oven remains in house, where it bakes specialty pizzas crowned with roasted clams, pulled pork, and pistachios.
Besides pies, the oven roasts other bistro and pizzeria eats, from organic farm-raised Scottish salmon to hot wings tossed in sriracha lime sauce. Complemented exclusively with wines from the award-winning Ventimiglia Vineyard, feasts can end on sweet notes with housemade desserts, including seasonal cannoli filled with autumnal pumpkin or wintry snowballs.