Brothers Paul and Matthew Zappoli went out into the world to make their fortunes, but a chance to build something together brought them back to New Jersey. Chef Matthew Zappoli, a 2010 winner of Food Network's Chopped expertly plates Italian favorites, such as chicken piccata or veal parmesan. Each bite attests to epicurean abilities, honed at the Culinary Institute of America, that have earned the chef praise from Bon App?tit and appearances as the featured chef at The James Beard House.
Hand-crafted pasta lounges in fresh sauce, and local ingredients make up appetite-trouncing accouterments. On some weekend evenings, warm tangles of guitar notes drift from the playing area laid out before the wood-burning oven. And a row of outdoor seats lets diners bask in the sun or maintain the hope that a lost kite will still come back.
The down-home cooking at Amy’s Omelette House serves up myriad made-to-order breakfast, lunch, and dinner feasts with a gargantuan menu best observed from outer space. Namesake omelettes ($6.25+) sizzle in more than 200 varieties, mixing three eggs and every cheese, veggie, and meat imaginable for a patchwork quilt of egg-threaded mouthfuls. Breakfast yields 30 different sweet blends of pancakes and french toast ($4.50+), and 11 new angles on eggs Benedict ($7.50+), memorized and delivered by superhuman servers who can divine drink orders by feeling the prongs on your fork. Sample a specialty sandwich during lunch, such as the Grumpy Waitress ($8.95) with pastrami, fried onions, and jack cheese on grilled rye, or the Jolly Waiter ($8.95) with fried flounder and tartar sauce on texas toast. After 3 p.m., dinner dishes of southern-jerk-seasoned pork chops ($10.95) and baby back ribs ($16.95) unbuckle belts with a flourish of flavor and a pair of needle-nose pliers.
The Dockside Restaurant offers superbly prepared classic dishes in a setting like no other. Located on the waterfront where Granville Island faces the city, guests can enjoy panoramic views across False Creek to the world-famous cityscape of Yaletown and beyond to the mountains of the North Shore.
Sailboats breeze through the harbor outside of The Dockside, where chefs create a seafood-studded menu laden with comfort foods and upscale options. Appetizers summon jaws to action and include spiced Maryland crab cakes and lamb-chop lollipops, which are ideal for rewarding kids after dentist visits or pairing with cooling mint tzatziki sauce. After couples or quartets clear their starters, servers whisk out entrees such as succulent lobster rolls or pan-seared diver scallops awash in a balsamic reduction and trimmed with truffled potato puree and garlicky spinach. Chefs also braise Angus short ribs and sprinkle panko on five-cheese-sauced penne pasta that is studded, like the Jolly Green Giant’s belt, with broccoli rabe.
Though they all share the same name, all eight of McLoone's Restaurants' locations have their own interior charm. With dining rooms adjacent to off-track betting facilities, McLoone’s Woodbridge Grille and McLoone’s Bayonne Grille are peppered with an energetic ambiance that fills their brightly colored spaces. Televisions at every table keep diners abreast of the results of each race, and the big screens plastered around the restaurants also broadcast NFL, MLB, and college games. Like an indecisive bride’s wedding, each location’s bistro-style menu includes both casual and elegant dishes, from seasoned thai chicken wings and Black Angus burgers to new york strip steak and mango salmon.
Pearl of Lisbon surrounds its guests with glowing lanterns, built-in wine racks, and oil paintings of castles reminiscent of its namesake city while filling plates with traditional Portuguese dishes from a two-part menu. Once seated indoors or outside beneath the grapevine-shaded patio, guests can dine on grilled prawns in a spicy mozambique sauce ($20.95) or flambéed portuguese sausage ($10.95). Daily specials keep things fresh, making use of whatever fresh seafood the chefs could barter that day from entrepreneurial mermen.