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.
At Roma’s Pizza, patrons will find something interesting on the menu: Mexican food. Though specialties in hand-tossed pizza and stuffed subs both hot and cold headline the restaurant’s menu, chefs also sizzle fajitas, ladle jumbo shrimp over spanish rice, and slather nachos with cheese. Ten years of experience aids the staff in preparing such a lengthy selection, that, of course, includes both traditional, New York–style circular pies and doughy Sicilian squares. They also bake strombolis and calzones, press paninis, and toss fresh salads.
Pronounced ?AH-beets,? Pete?s New Haven Style Apizza sets itself apart from more familiar pie prototypes with a crunchy yet chewy, stone oven-cooked crust. Combining their roots in fine dining with a dedication to fresh and simple Italian cuisine, Pete?s chefs make the gluten-free pizza crust in-house each day and top pies with savory sauce and locally-sourced toppings that are farm-fresh, organic, or made in house.
Pete?s menu also encompasses fresh pastas including homemade lasagna and spaghetti Bolognese. The fortress of feasting also offers a variety of draft and bottled beers, eclectic d?cor, and oven doors that bark out patrons? names when they walk through the door.
In 1993, the basement of a Minneapolis apartment building was transformed into an Italian restaurant, becoming the first Buca di Beppo. The owners soon found themselves riding a wave of popularity and marinara sauce as they opened new restaurants across the nation. Today, the eatery occupies 97 locations nationwide, from San Francisco to Times Square.
At each location, chefs maintain the northern and southern Italian flavors that made the original so popular, with a few American twists. Then they serve it up in massive, family-style portions, making Buca di Beppo a favorite place for hungry families and groups of friends.
For starters, the chefs bake up batches of Cheesy Bread Florentine, a colorful combo of spinach, roma tomatoes, and garlic sprinkled over Italian bread and sealed in place with fresh, melted cheeses. Entr?es are prepared with an eye toward quality and quantity, both of size and selection, complete with Veal Parmigiana, Baked Ziti, and classic Italian-American staples like Ravioli and Lasagna. And in keeping with the convivial atmosphere, they also serve truly decadent desserts. The Mt. Vesuvius Dark Chocolate Cake erupts with melted chocolate, and the Colossal Brownie Sundae towers above other sweets with six scoops of ice cream and tiers of sundae trimmings.
The esculent artisans at The Olive Tree serenade diners with an extensive menu celebrating seafood and cuisine inspired by regions all throughout Italy. Evening diners can entice taste buds with comestible selections from a far-reaching dinner menu. Rouse appetites with fresh sautéed mussels reclining in a bath of garlic wine sauce ($10.59) before chowing on ricotta-stuffed baked manicotti ($11.99). Exercise incisors on grilled pork chops Italiano, served with grilled veggies and a side ($14.99) or crash a shrimp scampi slumber party jumping on a bed of linguine ($18.99). All entrees are served with unlimited garden salad and enough breadsticks to construct an edible scale model of Michelangelo's David. The dinner menu is rounded out by a variety of homemade desserts, including homemade cannoli ($4.95) and tiramisu ($4.95).
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.