Pie Five Pizza Company takes its name from the fact that its pizza professionals create each made-to-order pizza in five minutes or less. Mere minutes after guests decide upon a crust style and toppings, a piping hot pie arrives, covered with rich cheese, organic tomato sauce, and fresh meats and veggies.
In the kitchen at Mario’s Pizza, chefs heap cheese, steak, and sun-dried tomatoes onto oversize New York–style and sicilian pizza crusts. A white pizza covered in ricotta cheese, fresh garlic, and mozzarella reminds taste buds of eating a delicious snowman, and comes in sizes ranging from 10 inches to as large as 19 inches. Baked pasta and sandwiches, such as a philly steak or veal parmigiana, round out the menu.
According to Villa Antonio's chef, there are only two secret ingredients in romantic fine dining: abundance and flavor. The menu strikes a careful balance between the two, from the New Zealand lamb chops crowned with melted gorgonzola to the mandarin-orange pesto in the grilled diver scallops to the dessert trolley's pilings of cannoli, tiramisu, and italian cheesecake.
That abundance extends to the spirit of the staff?who upholds the restaurant's motto, "Where you are never a stranger twice"?as well as the decor. At the Ballantyne location, a stone rotunda fitted with hand-blown glass looms over the dining area, while a fountain casts shimmers of colored light across the outdoor patio. At the South Boulevard location, eyes are drawn to the bar area via the black-and-gold flower pattern that dominates the floor. Additional audio-visual flavor can be found on Friday and Saturday nights, when live music helps conjure a romantic atmosphere, much like the sound of Barry White cackling like a witch.
Rodolfo and Luisa Amadio are no strangers to the Charlotte restaurant scene. Following the success of Luisa?s Brick Oven Pizzeria and Dolce Ristorante Italiano, the pair decided to bring their passion for italian cuisine to Rudy's Italian Restaurant & Bar. Inside, honey-hued walls bask in the sunlight streaming through enormous picture windows. A tall semicircle platform is the dining room's centerpiece, displaying Rudy's inventory of more than 40 wine bottles, 35 of which are available by the glass. Chefs craft Italian starters for diners to pair with favorite varietals, creating hearty pasta dishes as well as seafood and veal in cognac and madeira-wine sauces. While chipping away at scoops of house-made gelato, diners can ask servers about reserving space on the outdoor patio for private parties or reserving space in the walk-in refrigerator for games of freeze tag.
When one steps inside, Geisha House "can feel like another planet," says the Los Angeles Times. A self-described "surreal, high-class brothel," Geisha House pays homage to Japan's late-night history and adds modern twists such as backlit neon panels in sultry shades of red and pink. A curved mezzanine grants a bird's-eye view of candlelit tables crowned with specialty rolls full of burdock root, tempura flakes, torched lobster, and other adventurous ingredients. Chatter emanates from a 50-foot sake bar serving the Japanese rice liquor straight or poured into specialty cocktails, sips of which flank bites of carpaccio, mongolian lamb chops, and udon noodles in fragrant broths. A lively dance floor invites diners to remember the simple joy of motion and lets method actors cast as sprinklers fit in.
At Intermezzo Pizzeria and Cafe, brothers Branko and Djordje Avramovic draw patrons to their European–style eatery with fresh, hand-tossed pizzas and Serbian family recipes passed down from their grandmother. Their kitchen contains no freezer or microwave, ensuring the staff cooks all meats and melts all toy army soldiers by hand. In keeping with this commitment to freshness, they also grow their own herbs and create their own mozzarella, bread, and pastas from scratch. These top-notch ingredients assemble in dishes such as Balkan-style pizzas stuffed with ham and sour cream and eggplant musaka, which guests can devour on an outdoor patio overlooking Charlotte's skyline.