Every recipe on the menu at Biba's Italian Restaurant is the brainchild of the chefs. Years of experimentation has helped them decide precisely how much ricotta cheese should get tucked into each ravioli and the exact ratio of spices to craft their Cajun cream sauce. The chefs delegate their most popular creation to the appetizer section: Biba?s garlic rolls, baked fresh daily with a secret blend of seasoning that is written on the back of the U.S. Constitution. With a full rolodex of beloved dishes, the chefs spend their days making everything from shrimp scampi and fettuccine alfredo to eggplant parmigiana subs. Pizzas and calzones bake to a rich, golden brown beneath or around 20 different toppings, such as meatballs, roasted red peppers, and eggplant.
A perimeter of brick walls and flat-screen TVs envelops AC Tavern, where seasonal craft beers wash down a menu of Southern-inspired pub fare and events busy guests with poker, karaoke, and football. In the kitchen, chefs lightly fry catfish morsels and layer them onto plates alone or stuff them into po boys flanked by Cajun tartar dipping sauce. The texas brisket pizza joins two hearty staples as jalapeños and onions top texas brisket, coated in the same root-beer barbecue sauce that also drenches a half or full rack of slow-smoked but fast-talking St. Louis–style ribs. Every day of the week, diners can pair their feasts with diversions, including live music on Fridays and college football on Sundays.
Sofra Restaurant and Lounge is out to seduce the senses. Some visitors may find themselves enchanted by the sumptuous flavors of Mediterranean and Persian specialties, such as fatoush salad, kabobs, and creamy baba ghanoush, while others are beguiled by the billows of aromatic smoke drifting through the hookah lounge.
Inside the chic, fuchsia-lit lounge, an extensive array of hookahs await guests at small tables surrounded by puffy ottomans and low, cushioned benches. Guests puff on a variety of hookah flavors in the posh confines, sinking into their seats as wisp of smoke dance around their heads like drunken sugar plum fairies. On certain nights, belly dancers further beautify the space by shimmying between the crowds in bejeweled tops, long skirts, and veils.
Marco's Pizza founder Pasquale "Pat" Gianmarco began helping out at his family’s pizzeria when he was just a boy. The eatery provided a taste of home to the Gianmarco clan, who moved to the United States from Italy when Pat was 9 years old. Together with his father, young Pat learned the secrets to creating exceptional pizza sauce: three different types of vine-ripened tomatoes and spices that can only be imported from Italy or the moon.
The perfected sauce recipe continues to guide Pat’s kitchen operations, although these days he has considerably more help. Marco's Pizza has 350 locations in more than half the states as well as in the Bahamas, each store tossing fresh pizza dough daily before sprinkling on a trio of fresh, never-frozen cheeses.
At Grand J Fish & Chicken, the kitchen whips up some of the flavors that made the Windy City famous. Deep fried Vienna Beef polish sausages and pizza puffs bring back memories from trips up north, reminding diners of Chicago as effectively as getting a tattoo of Michael Jordan's face. Fryers crisp and gild the breading on fresh fish, which arrive to the table cushioned in a bed of fries and a slice of bread. Chicken wings also emerge from sizzling oil, before being doused in spicy or peach barbecue sauce. Even the decor pays homage to Chicago, trimmed in the colors of the Chicago Bulls, with a Chicago flag and sports memorabilia gracing the walls.
Thanks to Le Gomier, you don't need a passport to taste the cuisines of the Caribbean, West Africa, and Louisiana. That's because the eatery whips up dishes in each of these culinary veins. Diners can peruse the menu before digging into jerk chicken, ox tail, fried fish and rice, crab cakes, and bowls of gumbo. They can also savor these same dishes during weddings, birthday parties, and retirement celebrations inside the banquet hall.