To reach their table at Spaghetti Warehouse, guests commonly have to step through two doors: the front door of the restaurant and the door of the antique trolley parked inside. Since its inception in 1972, the Italian eatery has merged the functions of kitchen and museum. Artifacts such as grandfather clocks, factory flywheels, and circus billboards surround diners as they delve into signature plates of 15-Layer Lasagna or hand-rolled meatballs. Apart from the items they've amassed, each of the buildings also has a particular history, from the one-time ice-manufacturing plant in Columbus to Memphis's Civil War munitions depot. Given their storied pasts, it's no surprise that several of these venues house their own ghosts—at Houston's warehouse, for example, elevator lights have been known to flicker, objects are mysteriously found in new locations, and a lady in a white gown is said to roam the restaurant.
Yet the main attraction of the place is the delicious food. Like any great Italian meal, made-from-scratch dishes are created from family recipes passed down for generations via email. Guests devour the perfectly al dente pasta, crispy calamari, bottomless soups, and 12-layer chocolate cakes while dining with family and friends. It’s that feeling of togetherness that people love about Spaghetti Warehouse, a feeling that is only enhanced when the drinks start flowing and the air is punctuated by the sounds of laughter as kids play retro games, such as The Claw prize-grabbing machine.
While growing up in Reggio di Calabria, Italy, Paolo Siciliano acquired a passion for traditional southern Italian food from his mother, Maria, who cooked for his family every day. After moving to the United States, Siciliano pursued his dreams of serving fresh pastas baked with mozzarella cheeses, opening his first restaurant in 1981.
The restaurant has always been a family business, with all nine of the Siciliano children working at the restaurant at points in its history. Today, Paolo's son Brian serves as a chef, adding his own twist to the family recipes as his crew bakes pans of the restaurant's complimentary buttery garlic rolls alongside their housemade lasagna. After spending 21 years under the same roof, baking manicotti and preparing fresh dough, Paolo and his wife Fran decided to upgrade to a new location, where Roman-style columns flank booths, and vivid paintings depict gondoliers reaching out through the frame to grab diners' plates of tiramisu.
The New and the Old Worlds collide at Villa-O, creating a modern cuisine that draws inspiration from Italy's Amalfi Coast. Beginning with imported semolina flour and purified water, the chefs fashion each strand and tube of pasta before frying them in a wok, which lends a distinctive touch to the restaurant's otherwise familiar pasta dishes. Organic, locally sourced produce, free-range meats, and telekinetically delivered seafood show how the restaurant updates traditional Italian dishes by introducing contemporary flair.
Italian-born chef Vincenzo Indelicato remained true to his Sicilian culinary school training when designing Villa-O's menu. In addition to traditional, Neapolitan-style pizzas loaded with imported pepperoni or housemade sausage and baked in a wood-burning oven, the selection includes a handful of dishes that depart from the norm, such as the portobello mushroom fries that D Magazine hailed as "addictive." The restaurant's wine list is equally eclectic, featuring bottles from throughout the world (though emphasizing the vineyards of Italy and California).
The main dining room surrounds its polished teak tables with modern white chairs and, according to Gayot, uses its "open floor plan with shiny mahogany, serene blue hues and nautical prints to create a veil of vacation." A sense of Mediterranean escapism does seem prevalent at Villa-O. Chrome and cerulean stools line the bar, which gleams in the natural light that streams through the front wall's floor-to-ceiling windows. To get a bit closer to the sunshine, diners can grab a table on the shady patio and enjoy their meal while relaxing on a plush sofa or in a teak rocking chair.
Greenville Avenue Pizza Company stays open until 3 a.m. seven days a week, folding and tossing specialty pizzas, wings, and calzones. A monthly wing-eating contest tests the stomach's limits and taste buds' patience by making them work overtime, though the reward is in each bite; wings can be coated in any of the pizzeria's specialty sauces, ranging from hot or mild to lemon pepper and orange chipotle. Piping-hot pizza comes by the slice or whole pie, with specialties such as the greek pizza with sun-dried tomatoes, feta, pepperoncini, and green olives. More in league with the way home dining rooms feel than how typical pizza parlors are set up, the restaurant’s interior lets diners lounge on padded chairs and benches featuring wrought-iron embellishments as they gather amid displays of art and tables long enough to seat whole families, teams, or all your Canadian girlfriends.
A go-to East Dallas hangout known for its great beer selection and laid-back atmosphere (think dim lighting, red vinyl booths, pool tables and a jukebox), Bryan Street Tavern is also recognized as having some of the best bar food in town. That’s particularly true of the thin and crispy-crusted pizza, offered with unusual toppings like buffalo chicken, blue cheese and celery or corned beef, sauerkraut and Thousand Island sauce. Beer-basted chicken wings are offered in a kaleidoscope of different flavors, ranging from mild to burn-your-face-off; other options include a Philly cheese steak topped with traditional Cheese Whiz, or a candied jalapeño-battered corn dog, all of which pair perfectly with one of the many local craft beers on tap. The dog-friendly patio’s picnic tables are packed when the weather permits.