When founders J. Kim Tucci, Joseph A. Fresta, and John P. Ferrara first opened The Pasta House Co. in 1974, they wanted to elevate pasta to an art form. “Some artists sculpt, some paint, and some sketch,” they write on the restaurant’s website. “But, at The Pasta House Co., we create authentic Italian culinary delights.” A few of the locations even have giant, exhibition kitchens so you can watch as pizzas, pastas, and entrees come to life.
Naturally, The Pasta House Co.’s menu revolves around the Italian staple from which it gets its name. There are more than 25 varieties of pasta to choose from, including linguine with chicken livers and the signature lasagna, plus weekday specials such as stuffed manicotti. Meanwhile, the mangia bene menu—which translates to “eat well” in Italian—showcases the more wholesome side of Italian eating, with dishes low in fat and calories that won’t peer pressure you to break curfew.
Founded in 1954 by James McLamore and David Edgerton, Burger King rapidly expanded from humble beginnings as a lone burger joint to more than 12,400 locations across 79 countries today, making it the second-largest fast-food-hamburger chain in the world. Its signature burger?the Whopper sandwich?consists of flame-broiled, quarter-pound beef patties crowned with a miniature fedora and a fully customizable array of toppings such as tomatoes, onions, and dill pickles. Focused on continual improvement, the chain recently reinvented the fries that accompany each value meal, outfitting the spud slices with a thicker cut of potato for a fluffier texture on the inside and crispier golden-brown exterior. A spread of decadent desserts including dutch apple pie and Hershey pie keeps sweet teeth from elongating into fangs, and made-to-order breakfast sandwiches clasp eggs, american cheese, and bacon, sausage, or ham between two halves of a flaky croissant to round out the speedy menu.
In the family-style dining room at LuBar & Bistro, chatter from an underground bar, full-service bar drifts up the stairs, hinting at hidden revelry. A stone-fired oven for pizzas spills warmth out across the open space, skilled hands craft Italian ice cream, and spoons click against pots of housemade barbecue sauce, dressings, and marinara. Servers cruise by, transporting sandwiches and gluten-free options down to the underground lounge, where neon darts in ghosts of blue and pink off of a forest of bottles and a gleaming marbled bar. Bartenders mix drinks, ice clicking to punctuate tunes on the jukebox and occasional live music. As patrons lower glasses full of suds from Sam Adams, Hoegaarden, and Smithwick’s, big-screen TVs show sporting events and a soon-to-arrive cadre of video games—including Golden Tee—promise digital thrills. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, a breakfast buffet beckons to early risers from 8 a.m. to noon.
In the early '20s, tobacco processor Richard Henderson Soaper opened the six-story Soaper Hotel?a landmark in downtown Henderson known for its arched windows and circular balcony. Now the first floor hosts Delizio, an Italian-inspired eatery where patrons can devour pasta dishes, chargrilled boneless rib eyes, and deli-style sandwiches and soups surrounded by vintage architectural features.
Guests can also head to the bar area to sample 10 craft beers and martinis and listen to live music on Friday and Saturday nights. On Tuesdays, they can belt their hearts out during karaoke and participate in trivia on Wednesdays, proving to smartphones that humans can still access information in their own brains.
"Best Of" awards cover the glass doorway that leads into Gene's Restaurant, an eatery owned by the Thomason family for more than 30 years. Step through the doorway and into the dining room, and you might catch a whiff of the home-style breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that keeps winning those awards. The restaurant is known for dishes such as fried catfish, house-made meatloaf, and pit-barbecued meats. In the summer, feast on specialties such as homegrown tomatoes stuffed with tuna salad.
Bagelrama?s famous steamed bagel sandwich is an agglomeration of soft doughy circles, warmed meat and veggies, and gooey cheese. The bagel sandwiches are stuffed with a mix of breakfast- and lunch-geared ingredient combinations, including corned beef hash, eggs, and sausage gravy; and pulled pork slathered in housemade barbecue sauce. Bagels are also sold by the dozen, and paired with such cream cheese flavors as chocolate hazelnut, pineapple, and pecan pie.