Li'l Rizzo's Italian Restaurant unites two popular experiences: eating delicious Italian food and rooting for your favorite team. It's no surprise, then, that the restaurant-slash-sports-bar tends to get crowded on game night. Aside from Italian staples such as lasagna and tortellini alfredo, Li'l Rizzo's specializes in creative pizzas topped with creamy spinach dip and chicken. The award-winning wings aren't to be missed, nor are the beers from local breweries such as Schlafly and Boulevard.
House-made dough rises every day in the Parmesan's Pizzeria kitchen, where chefs toss it into pizza crust or bake it into the restaurant's signature cheesy breadsticks. Creative toppings crown these specialty pies, such as spaghetti and meatballs, spinach-and-artichoke dip, chicken cordon bleu, and the Padre pizza, whose five meats and extra cheese arrive baked within a World's Best Dad trophy. Calzones and sub sandwiches round out the hearty bill of fare, which patrons can have delivered at home, pick up themselves, or munch in a dining room equipped with a large-screen television.
A varnished wood bench gleams near the entrance of Panther Grill, formerly known as the Panther Inn, made from rough-hewn logs by the owner's father. The food inside is similarly homespun. In the morning, cooks toss omelets in pans and serve up platters of steak and eggs. Later in the day, they prepare hand-breaded pork tenderloin, freshly made cheeseburgers, or brown beans and ham served with cornbread. A rotating line-up of made-from-scratch desserts, such as layered Smores push pops and cinnamon rolls, beckon from a pastry case.
When you order guacamole at Las Margaritas, you aren’t just asking for the avocado-based chip dip; you’re asking for a spectacle. That’s because the staff brings the entire guacamole-making production to your table, mashing together the ingredients in front of you and delivering the tasty concoction as freshly as if the kitchen had an avocado tree growing in the sink. This dedication to fresh, authentic Mexican cuisine sums up Las Margaritas, where chefs make salsas by hand daily and churn out favorites such as chimichangas, tacos, enchiladas, and burritos.
The menu also includes more innovative dishes, such as pork-and-pineapple-filled tacos and the camarones tocineta—cheese-stuffed shrimp that are wrapped in bacon and topped with a pork rind whittled into a bow. A chilly margarita quells any spicy main course and incorporates only natural ingredients to flavor its pomegranate, peach, mango, and pineapple varieties.
Bambu embraces traditional recipes and dining practices to create an authentic Vietnamese dining experience. Their pho soup packs noodles into a beef or chicken stock made on site and simmered for 12 hours to fully coax out flavors and create a dish named Best Hangover Remedy by the editors of 417 Magazine. The menu showcases rich house specialties, including Bun Bo Hue, a soup from the old imperial capital of Central Vietnam with a spicy broth made from long-simmered beef bones. Most items come with a plate of fiery chilis, fresh herbs, and lime to season dishes instead of boring salt- and peppershakers or somber personal chefs. The courteous wait staff caters to every diner's needs, providing gluten-free menus to those with dietary restrictions and bibs to protect from soup splatters.
Once a ramshackle ice-cream store with a loyal Akron following, today Zack's Fire and Ice serves barbecue along with its cones with help from new owner and former pastor Randy Stewart and his wife, Kathy. The Stewarts have lived in the Southwest and up and down the East Coast, so rather than adhere strictly to any one regional barbecue style, they synthesize their favorite elements from a number of traditions to create an eatery with the welcoming spirit of a backyard cookout. The kitchen slow smokes brisket, ribs, pork, and turkey breast and slathers them with sauces such as honey and apple bourbon. Frozen treats such as sorbet and frozen yogurt stay chilly at the ice-cream counter alongside hard-packed ice cream in flavors such as pumpkin pecan, oatmeal cookie, and Superman, designed to freeze enemies’ brains faster than a speeding bullet.