At the tender age of 7, Andrea Apuzzo began honing his culinary skills at a bakery in his Italian hometown. "I was spoiled as a kid. We made our own olive oil and wine,” he says in a Gambit article. His breadth of knowledge expanded greatly when, at 14 years old, he embarked on a culinary adventure across Europe and South America. Now at the helm of his own restaurant, Chef Andrea applies the knowledge he learned amid the cream-hued rising loaves and on the chattering South American streets.
The dishes that fill tables at the eatery have been enjoyed by the likes of Queen Elizabeth, President Carter, Sophia Loren, Clint Eastwood, and one dog that figured out how to use a credit card. To share his abilities and experiments, the chef also publishes cookbooks, which detail formulas for the award-winning pastas, fresh seafood, and steaks. Chef Andrea's bistecca pizzaiola earned a place on Esquire's 2008 list of the 20 Best Steaks in America. "Like the best Italian dishes," the article says, "its simple parts add up to an unexpectedly powerful whole."
That’s A Wrap’s chef John Evangelista is a self-confessed control freak. To craft dishes he truly stands behind, he has to be involved in every step in the process. He and his staff brines whole turkey breasts for 24 hours, bakes hams in a special glaze of honey and brown sugar, and slow-roasts briskets dry-rubbed and marinated overnight. In John’s kitchen, no vegetables ever feel the chill of a freezer, arriving to be cut and washed every morning. The kitchen’s meticulous prep work pays off. The eatery’s wraps and sandwiches are imbued with fresh flavors devoid of preservatives and MSG. Specialty wraps such as Classic Club—a bundle of baked ham, Cajun turkey, bacon, and cheddar—pair with smoothies blended from fruits such as pineapples, mangos, strawberries, and snozberries. Flavors of steaming, housemade stew rotate daily, and salads drizzled in housemade dressing augment the roster.
O'Henrys has served baskets of complimentary salted peanuts to guests since its founding in 1982, and the floors remain whimsically festooned with shells to this day. Owner Rhonda Conley, with more than 20 years at O'Henry's under her belt, works to keep the tradition of the restaurant alive at both locations. Waiters crunch across dining rooms from midday to midnight, bearing plates of freshly ground filet mignon burgers, hearty steaks, and signature Monica cream sauce dishes. Outside, an outdoor balcony scattered with tabletops wraps around the restaurant. The eatery boasts private dining rooms for parties of up to 25 people. It also treats guests to a free new york strip steak if they can prove it's their birthday with a valid ID or by showing video tapes of them not celebrating their birthday the previous 364 days.
Though Wow Cafe & Wingery has now found a foothold in more than 60 locations throughout the U.S., the chain still offers the same tasty soul food and wings as it did when it was founded by a trio of Louisianan brothers in 2001. The friendly sports pub still broadcasts the day’s games on various televisions, allowing guests to follow multiple sports or Jenga tournaments as they lick one of 17 delectable sauces from their fingers. In addition to these finger-food staples, guests can devour fajitas, burgers resting between slices of texas toast, and classic New Orleans dishes such as gumbo, catfish, and red beans. Spice-covered tongues cool off with signature drinks such as an italian mango bellini or Louisiana's Abita beer.
Orders from around the world inundate chefs at Frances' Bakery, who bake their fresh goods daily from recipes that have delighted taste buds and kept lonely recipe cards company for almost a century. The shop's rich custom espresso drinks pair with freshly filled cannolis, dainty chocolate éclairs, and sugar-free desserts. Thick Sicilian-style focaccia bread, topped with a blend of spinach, artichoke hearts, and tomatoes, adds a unique spin to the pizza concept, and traditional New Orleans muffuletta piles layers of baked ham, salami, cheese and olives upon a hefty round of italian bread.
Chefs at Randazzo’s Family Restaurant drizzle marinara and alfredo sauces on classic Italian pastas and stack fillings such as oyster and soft-shell crab on seafood platters and po' boy buns. Amorous foam fingers slow dance in the glow of several big-screen TVs as waiters plate omelets and other breakfast fare on weekends, and Pac-Man eternally munches his lunch in an attached game room. Randazzo’s catering can also serve up hearty trays of golden appetizers or large pasta pans each capable of serving up to 20 people or five hungry barbershop quartets.