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.
Since 1985, Anthony Marra has treated patrons to the same traditional eats that he grew up with, based on recipes brought from Italy by his Nonna Rose and Papa Tony. Each day his deli tables populate with prosciutto, broccoli rabe, and sundried tomatoes in gourmet sandwiches, many available hot or cold, and side dishes such as meatballs, sweet fryer peppers, and seasonal stuffed artichokes complement hand-tossed, gooey pizzas in a variety of sizes. For those seeking catering for a private party, Marra’s offers traditional Italian pastas and meats sautéed in wine by the tray-full, or by the bathtub-full for those seeking to be fully immersed in Italian culture.
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.
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.