There is no "behind the scenes" at Three Amigos Mexican Taquiera; instead of toiling in the back of a kitchen, the restaurant's cooks pile steak, grilled vegetables, and other fresh ingredients into tacos, burritos, and quesadillas as customers watch. Patrons can customize orders with toppings such as fresh lime juice or an assortment of housemade salsas.
The Stone and Paddle’s California-style thin-crust pizzas acquire their subtle crunch while baking atop a hot stone in a 600-degree oven. Gourmet toppings such as hot sausage, shrimp and artichoke, and spinach and gorgonzola grace the pies, which share table space with flatbread sandwiches that are also stone-baked. Though chefs must return nightly to the steel-encased bunker where they safeguard their secret dough recipe, guests can enjoy a new location in Rocky Hill, linger on the shaded patio at the Vernon location or watch sports on Manchester's flat-screen TVs.
For more than four decades, one family has passed down the tradition of crowd-pleasing pizzas, grinders, and pastas. Hartford Road Pizza owner Greg Procaccini claims the honor of the pizza-making paterfamilias from both his father and his uncle Mike, who recently retired after a long career of Italian cookery at Hartford Road’s affiliate, Gino’s Pizza. Greg continues his family’s proud tradition with plates of stuffed-shell pasta, tender veal parmigiana, and pizzas crowned with toppings such as hamburger, anchovies, eggplant, ricotta, and pineapple. Each meal stays as close to home as possible, with hearty grinders and saucy meatballs sourced from local meats when available, and traditional dishes such as the housemade pasta fagioli soup made from time-tested family recipes.
Entertainment is important in Hartford Road Cafe. Weekly events include jazz open-mic nights on Sundays, trivia on Tuesdays, and performances from local bands on Thursdays and Fridays. To accompany these feasts for the ears, the caf? offers a full menu of casual American cuisine, which includes bacon-wrapped scallops baked in a sherry-maple-butter sauce and pesto-topped salmon served over seasoned risotto and asparagus.
Father-and-son team Daniel and Louis Fiore start with local produce and imported Italian cheeses when crafting their recipes for Aldo Pizza’s pies. Louis draws on his classical training as a chef to perfect specialty pizzas such as the Hawaii 5-0 and The New Yorker, the latter of which he tops with roasted garlic, plum tomatoes, and esoteric comic strips. Along with their flagship pizzas, the Fiores craft traditional Italian dishes such as genoa salami grinders and chicken parmesan to serve in their homey cottage storefront or deliver for free throughout the Manchester area.
The audience goes wild for Chef Jesus "Suso" Seoane as he deftly dances the handle of a sharp butcher knife between his fingers. As if drawn by magnet, the blade finds a large red pepper and flays it down the center in one fluid stroke. When Jesus isn't flaunting his knife skills on the Telemundo cooking show Cocinando con Suso, he's hard at work perfecting an authentic menu of Spanish and Latin-American dishes at his restaurant, Suso Latino Basket.
The word suso sprawls across his eatery's wall, a painted chef's hat jauntily hanging off the o. Just past the marble-tiled bar, tables populate with steaming specialties such as puerto rican pork pernil, peruvian sautéed pastas, cuban sandwiches, and spanish paella, which overflows with more seafood than Poseidon's bank vault.