Though its roots go back to Treviso, Italy, Piola impressively now serves its famous thin-crust pizza in 10 countries. The international eatery's chefs top pies with a mix of classic and eclectic ingredients such as Brie cheese, smoked salmon, broccoli, bacon, and eggs. Its pies include thin-crust, white pizzas, and thick-edged versions baked in brick ovens. Aside from serving food, Piola hosts film premieres, book events, and art exhibitions. The business also publishes its own 48-page magazine with international artwork and essays translated into four languages, including Italian and English, but sadly not Pig-Latin.
Vapiano provides a dining experience that is fast and casual, but with food that is fresh and made-to-order. An innovative concept with European influences, Vapiano has parlayed its success into 120 worldwide locations in 26 countries. During visits, diners receive a device called a chip card, which enables them to move freely around the restaurant's food and drink stations without having to pay any tolls. At each station, private chefs readily hand-toss gourmet salads, prepare handcrafted pizzas, and mix together pastas, all of which diners can enjoy moments later amid Vapiano's upscale Italian d?cor.
For brothers Rino and Luciano Balzano, cooking is in their blood. They grew up near Naples, Italy, in a small town by the sea, and their grandparents and parents cooked professionally. "Between my mother and my father, they used to cook like angels," Luciano says. The love of food the brothers both discovered as children has since blossomed, taking them around the world. After culinary school, they spent a decade cooking on Italian cruise ships, then traveled to Florida where they opened restaurants including the much-lauded Il Porcino. Their cooking earned them the attention of the James Beard Foundation, as well as that of Hollywood stars including Demi Moore and Robert De Niro, who ended up hiring the pair several times. Pictures of their past successes hang in their office—but today, they're looking forward with La Canzone Ristorante & Lounge, a waterfront eatery whose floor-to-ceiling windows let diners drink in stunning views of the bay.
As beautiful as the views are, it's the food people come for. "Our Italian food is actually real, authentic Italian food," Luciano says, noting many places make the same claim but fail to deliver. The seafood dishes, including what he proudly claims is "the best calamari in town," pay tribute to their coastal childhood, and the homemade pastas include ricotta gnocchi and fresh fettuccine with pork veal. Braised short ribs in a chianti-infused sauce, meanwhile, cook for five hours and arrive so tender that they fall apart at the mere mention of a Hank Williams ballad.
The restaurant is serious about its music, and though Luciano says he and his brothers "love to sing to the customers," they also bring in professionals—including live bands, as well as guest DJs who spin tunes in the lounge every Friday and Saturday from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. During weekdays, the tunes veer toward classic Italian, mirroring the vision Rino and Luciano have for La Canzone. "We tried to put together something nice and comfortable and very much Italian," Luciano says.
PastaBox brings a whole new element to the fast-food world: pasta. The team invites guests to step inside the chic and minimalist interior, shuffle down the wooden countertop, choose a pasta shape, then sauce, then optional meats. Fresh penne, bowtie-shaped farfalle, and pillowy gnocchi pile into piccolo, mezzo, and grande take-out boxes beneath blankets of creamy salmon, Bolognese, or four-cheese sauce. PastaBox also welcomes patrons to take meals to go in environmentally amiable paper bags, or take a seat at one of the sleek wooden tables, which both populate the interior and are the tools with which lumber jacks learn math.
The clean simple décor of Tutto Pasta matches the contemporary Italian cuisine it serves. All the pasta is homemade daily and the menu includes seafood linguini, pumpkin agnolotti and seafood risotto, while appetizers tend to include the expected Italian classics – tomato and mozzarella, bruschetta, antipasti, beef and salmon carpaccio and calamari. There are also salads, meats and fish dishes in the mix, including a popular tilapia that comes sautéed with shrimp, calamari, scallops, clams and tomato sauce, all served with a side of agnolotti stuffed with ricotta and lobster. The restaurant has a lovely outdoor patio that is nice for a more leisurely lunch, while the simple interior mixes tile floors, faux marble tabletops and a few classic photographs that hang along the main wall, giving a slight trattoria vibe to Tutto’s.
As its name implies, NY Bagels and Deli equips customers with all the stacked sandwiches and freshly baked bagels one would expect from a New York City deli. In the morning, cream cheese, lox, and eggs rest between bagel halves. In the afternoon, it's corned beef, baked ham, and salami. Even leafy salads, filled with grilled chicken and dried fruit, come with a choice of a bagel or bagel chips. Hot and cold coffee drinks, as well as more than a dozen smoothies, accompany dishes such as pizza and wings—two recent additions to the menu.