The Boston Ice Cream Company?s staff scoops all-natural Emack and Bolio's ice cream into cones, onto cakes, and across its ice-cream pizzas. The story of Emack and Bolio's dates back to 1970s Boston, when a music lawyer wanted to create a space for musicians to hang out on late nights after shows. Like the first brave settler to farm Wisconsin, the small shop spawned an ice-cream empire from modest origins.
This Beantown tradition arrived in Livingston with a rotating roster of flavors that includes almond coconut bar, lemon sorbet, and key-lime pie. The shop's confection makers also use Emack and Bolio's ice cream to create custom cakes with housemade buttercream. They even prepare an ice-cream pizza, which has a brownie crust, vanilla-bean ice cream, fudge swirls, raspberry-filled chocolates, and a marshmallow topping. Their nonfrozen treats include handmade chocolates and cookies, as well as jellybeans, swedish fish, and enough sweets to decorate the set of a Candy Land movie.
Pizzeta Enoteca dishes up Italian fare, but nothing about this eatery is stuffily traditional. Instead, the staff strives to create a fresh, hip atmosphere, one that appeals to New Jersey’s young families. The menu makes the concept clearer with its headlining pizzetas and their unique toppings. The small-serving, thin-crust pies come crowned with everything from buffalo chicken to four-cheese blends to garden vegetables, mozzarella, and garlic to mimic the flavors of caprese salad. Although Millburn-Short Hills Patch says that “pizza is the way to go at Pizzeta,” the menu boasts a slew of tasty antipasti, paninis, and pastas. It also has dessert covered. Ricotta-filled cannoli and espresso-soaked tiramisu end meals more sweetly than a hug from a waiter who happens to be a kitten.
Muscle Maker Grill grew out of a small smoothie shop, where owner Rod Silva prepared health-conscious alternatives to fast food. The restaurant has since expanded with a menu tailored to accommodate diners with vegetarian, carb-free, and gluten-free diets. The new "lighter side" menu features healthy treats that are 400 calories or less under $5.99. The crew prides themselves in creating healthy versions of popular foods, and continues to serve the shop's original protein shakes with favorites such as chocolate peanut butter and strawberry banana. Additionally, Muscle Maker Grill displays the calorie count for each dish on the menu.
A veal chop cut extra thick and topped with fontina cheese. Salmon caught in the wild. Shrimp topped in pink champagne sauce on a bed of bow-tie pasta. At Il Piccolo Ristorante, gourmet meats and seafoods like these star in the culinary team’s classic Italian dishes. They prepare calamari Cajun-style or fry it and serve it with sweet or hot sauce, rather than ocean water, the original calamari sauce. Their vegetarian plates also delight tongues with Tuscan flavor, ranging from a ricotta-filled roasted eggplant to penne tossed in vodka sauce.
At Il Vicolo Ristorante, Italian tradition comes above all else—a mantra the kitchen staffers demonstrate by making fresh mozzarella in-house. The fruits of their labor help create the cozy flavors of the menu’s comfort foods, bolstered by fresh vegetables and piping-hot sauces. One such sauce, the tomato basil, lends a bit of savory tang to the ravioli’s creamy filling of ricotta and pecorino cheeses, and a sherry sauce highlights the sweetness of the pollo danzis' pears and sun-dried cranberries. These dishes arrive at tables amid a rustic setting in the dining room. Faux-textured walls, leafy potted plants, and paintings of Venetian waterways and Mediterranean beaches emphasize the eatery’s homespun, Old-World charm and the suitability of the walls for hanging pictures. At its core, Il Vicolo Ristorante strives for familiarity by bringing both the spirit and the flavors of the Mediterranean to the mid-Atlantic.
Bensi co-owner Genci Previzi helms an immense menu of classic Italian cuisine, including hearty homestyle dishes with roots in Calabria, Italy. Entrees, joined by a house salad or cup of comforting housemade soup, range from spaghetti and meatballs to gluten-free grilled chicken in a lemon-garlic marinade served over a veggie medley. The chefs also prepare an array of specials such as pignoli-crusted goat cheese and arugula salad, barolo-braised veal osso buco, pan-seared Chilean sea bass with eggplant caponata, and nutella chocolate pizza with fresh strawberries. The dishes are served in a modern dining atmosphere where minimal table settings and simple dark-wood furniture keep the focus on the vibrant cuisine.