Before chefs at Carini's Pizza, Subs & Pasta pick up a single pepperoni or shred of mozzarella, they mix, knead, and hand-stretch dough and prepare sauce from scratch. Then, and only then, pizzas are personalized with more than two-dozen toppings, from chicken and bleu cheese to ground beef, sour cream, tomatoes, nacho chips, and mozzarella. But the menu also includes alternatives for guests who ate pizza for breakfast and lunch: pasta and sub sandwiches can stop them from consuming three round meals.
Portalli's Chef Keith Holsey portions his dishes according to the traditional Italian four-course meal. This doesn't stop the chef from crafting a menu of creatively interpreted Italian classics, though, such as Cioppino over fettuccine or Salmon con Granchio. Chef Holsey's creations consist of uncomplicated flavors that, according to the Baltimore Sun, allow "good and simple ingredients to work together." Portalli's also caters to families with dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs or meatball flatbread pizza, which teaches kids about fractions so they don't have to learn about them on the street.
Inside Nora Cafe & Bakery, housemade cakes and Italian-style cookies gather in the long, sloping pastry cases that line one side of the casual dining room. Referencing generations-old recipes, Nora’s team of bakers craft handmade dough to create fluffy puff pastry, pies, and cakes. The restaurant also serves Italian dinners, with plates of lasagna, spaghetti, and steaks complemented by garlic bread almost as warm as a blanket that’s on fire. The team serves those dishes between bright, orange walls flecked with framed photos, amid a sea of red tables with cushioned chairs.
Mountains of pasta, slabs of steak, and oceanic delights romp across American Bistro's menu. The restaurant's faux-marble walls are bathed in warm light and bedecked with paintings and landscape murals that transport patrons back to the old country as smoothly as Julius Caesar's zipline. Feast upon time-tested Italian dishes including shrimp scampi ($11.95 during lunch; $16.95 dinner) or filet of Pisa, whose twin spires of 5-ounce steaks, mozzarella, and tomatoes ($26.95) tower over appetites. Reenact your favorite opera while noshing on lunchtime comestibles such as the Fradiavolo pizza ($8.95), where Italian sausage, mushrooms, and red onions play tug-o-war with stringy mozzarella ropes over spicy tomato sauce. American Bistro's shelves brim with a parade of libations including wine ($6/glass on average), beer ($4 on average), and the jealous tears of Bacchus.
Chef Rocco Gargano grew up in Matera, Italy. The son of a farmer, Rocco developed a deep appreciation for fresh, sun-kissed ingredients at an early age. Both father and son relocated to the United States in 1962, and Rocco longed to use his skills in a fine-dining setting.
Now, inside Rocco's Capriccio in Little Italy, Rocco and his kitchen staff filet fresh fish for specialties such as the grouper livornese with a sauce made from freshly chopped tomatoes, capers, and olives. They thinly slice prosciutto and melt shredded fontina cheese into a cream sauce before spreading both across cuts of filet mignon or models in public-service announcements about food fights. The chirping sound of ice against glass drifts from the bar, where mixologists blend dessert-appropriate martinis made with limoncello and Godiva chocolate liqueur, along with coffee drinks enriched by rum, Baileys, amaretto, and whipped cream. An exhaustively researched and described wine list draws heavily on sangiovese, canaiolo, and trebbiano grapes—Italian fruit much like the crops Rocco tended as a child.