Casanova Italian Restaurant's owner Leo Capezzuto is one of eleven siblings, so it's no surprise that he has made Casanova a family affair. Leo is the proprietor, and the restaurant features cheeses made by hand by his brother and ingredients sourced from his sister's store, Sapori D'Italia. All of these factors culminate in a menu of authentic Southern-Italian cuisine that showcases more than fifteen different types of pasta, such as the scialiatielli con gamberi—artisan handmade egg pasta tossed with shrimp that chefs sauté with garlic, olive oil, and fresh cherry tomatoes. To prepare the filetto al pepe verde, they simmer a dry-aged Angus filet mignon in butter, and then top the delicacy with green peppercorns and cream brandy sauce. The menu also sources seafood from renowned fish regions, culling cuts of Atlantic salmon, Pacific swordfish, and Pacific cod. Like a DJ's closet, the wine list features more than 35 labels, collecting red, whites, and sparkling wines under the same roof.
The iconic comic-strip character and namesake of Dagwood’s Sandwich Shoppes peeps out from the first “o” in the deli’s logo, embracing not his wife, Blondie, but the signature Dagwood sandwich. With its four meats and pair of cheeses, the delicious (if slightly intimidating) sandwich represents the more than 20 signature subs and clubs that grace Dagwood’s menu. Meats ranging from premium roast beef to tender pork loin share slices of bread with cheeses, crisp pickles, and all the condiments one might expect of an old-fashioned deli. Those too young to appreciate the shop’s Sunday-paper references will at least enjoy kids’ meals such as the classic grilled-cheese sandwich. Aside from their in-store selections, the deli caters events with colorful trays of meats and sack lunches served by a curiously cartoonish wait staff.
An open-flame hearth is at the heart of Cosi's kitchen space, giving sandwiches and pizzas their toasty crunch. But there's a lot more to the menu than what happens under the flame. The T.B.M. sandwich piles tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella inside warm flatbread and the tandoori chicken sandwich brightens up grilled chicken breast with red peppers. Even salads are hearty meals here, with choices such as the cobb mixing greens with grilled chicken breast, bacon, and gorgonzola in a sherry-shallot vinaigrette. The crown on top of any meal here is undoubtedly the s'mores, in which two to four diners roast their own marshmallows over a tabletop fire pit, then sandwich the sugar cloud with chocolate and graham crackers before dragging their sleeping bags into the kitchen for a night's rest.
Even among Lexington's other historic buildings, Bellini's Italianette-style architecture stands out; perhaps because the building has been a city fixture for close to 150 years. This was a large draw for long-time friends Giancarlo Marletta and Nader Iweimrin when they started the restaurant some 10 years ago. But Bellini's has been a shared success. Chef Craig Devilliers deftly helms the kitchen and insures quality with a strict sustainability pledge: organic and locally sourced seasonal ingredients whenever possible. The result is a dynamic menu pairing rack of lamb and diver scallops with modern accents of basil relish, blackberry compote, and sweet candied fennel.
The Kentucky Ballet Theatre was founded in 1998 to give Lexington audiences their own local company of ballet dancers. The performances that have followed have included classics such as Prokofiev's Cinderella and new works such as Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. The dancers host their shows at the Lexington Opera House, a historical landmark which was built in 1887, was converted into a movie theater in the 1920s, and did a brief stint as a Rockette before returning to its classical roots in 1976.
The Soup Kitchen takes good old-fashioned soup and crusty bread to the next level. Over the last 28 years, pot-stirring chefs have diligently perfected their recipes for more than 125 soups, a handful of which are available every day alongside fresh-baked bread. Deli sandwiches, salads, and sides are also available, such as loaded potato salads, fresh-sliced pastrami sandwiches, and grape-pecan chicken salad.