When founders J. Kim Tucci, Joseph A. Fresta, and John P. Ferrara first opened The Pasta House Co. in 1974, they wanted to elevate pasta to an art form. “Some artists sculpt, some paint, and some sketch,” they write on the restaurant’s website. “But, at The Pasta House Co., we create authentic Italian culinary delights.” A few of the locations even have giant, exhibition kitchens so you can watch as pizzas, pastas, and entrees come to life.
Naturally, The Pasta House Co.’s menu revolves around the Italian staple from which it gets its name. There are more than 25 varieties of pasta to choose from, including linguine with chicken livers and the signature lasagna, plus weekday specials such as stuffed manicotti. Meanwhile, the mangia bene menu—which translates to “eat well” in Italian—showcases the more wholesome side of Italian eating, with dishes low in fat and calories that won’t peer pressure you to break curfew.
Ten flat-screen televisions play sports, sports, and more sports inside Texas Smokehouse and Saloon, and on select nights, the bar treats patrons to live musical acts and haiku readings. Drinks pair with chicken and beef sandwiches and soft pretzels brushed with a Budweiser and garlic-herb seasoning.
Ozella's Pizzeria's dough-twirling chefs spin a menu of classic pastas and homemade pizzas prepared from original family recipes. Fingers flock to crisp-fried appetizers such as homemade onion rings ($6.99) and toasted ravioli ($5.49–$5.99). Homemade pizzas garner universal appeal with toppings ranging from traditional cheese ($9.50–$11) to loaded supreme ($13.50–$17), and fusion-seeking diners can enjoy the uncommon combination of an italian cheeseburger parmesan ($6.50). Instead of dipping their forks in sauce and graffiti-ing their table by drawing four concentric circles at once, guests can swirl a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs ($7.50 for a small; $9 for a large). Diners can enjoy their pies between the dining room's beige walls, illuminated by rays of natural light streaming in through floor-to-ceiling front windows. Large murals depicting the original Ozella's and penciled sketches of the chef also decorate the casual restaurant's interior.
At Nara Sushi and Japanese Restaurant, chefs prepare a cavalcade of sushi and Japanese entrees such as teriyaki and tempura. The menu includes classic mainstays such as spicy salmon and california rolls alongside specialty rolls such as the Screaming Volcano, which tops seared tuna with a special sauce. While dining, guests can also enjoy domestic and imported beers, wine, and sake.
Maggie Malone's menu merges aggressive appetites with burgers, steaks, and sandwiches in an entertaining environment that hosts live music, 15 TVs, pool, and shuffleboard. Pub grubbers can crunch toasted ravioli ($7.99) or scoop spinach-artichoke dip ($6.99) while raising a beer to their favorite team or shampoo commercial airing on one of two 100" TV screens. Burger aficionados can bestow their bellies with the sautéed onion-and-pepper-topped blackened cheeseburger ($6.99) or brave the fiery 5 Alarm burger ($6.99) for a face-reddening feast. Toss a coin into the jukebox for a tune to accompany the Irish Reuben ($7.99) or the 8-ounce rib-eye steak sandwich served with a choice of chips, fries, or onion rings ($8.99). Kids always eat free at Maggie's, meaning children will not have to sing for their supper or recite Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics for a snack.
The doughsmiths at Cecil Whittaker’s Pizzeria craft thin-crust pizzas bubbling with an untouched surface of cheese or loaded with toppings such as jalapeño peppers, bacon, and shrimp. It’s their specialty and what they’re known for—“This is the place to go if you like St. Louis-style, thin-crust pizza (though they do offer a thick crust pizza, too) or just want to kick back and have a beer,” raves Metromix.
But the menu isn’t limited to pizzas. Each day, the kitchen roasts and slices tender beef for roast beef sandwiches dipped in savory au jus. The au jus is prepared in house, as is the meat sauce that graces Cecil Whittaker's pasta, chicken parmesan, and meatball sandwiches. There’s also a hearty selection of smokehouse dishes such as ribs, pulled pork, and brisket served with homestyle sides of green beans and coleslaw. A weekday lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. gives diners a chance to sample different entrees and sides–along with a salad and pizza bar–and creative additions the chefs cook up like sloppy joe's one day or bacon cheeseburgers the next.