Chiapparelli's first opened its doors to Baltimore's Little Italy in 1942, regaling diners with a tradition-inspired approach to Old-World cuisine that the founding family's present generations continue to embrace. The chefs simmer pots of ripe tomatoes, onions, and herbs to craft marinara sauce and deftly form meatballs and ravioli by hand. By incorporating steamed clams, lump crabmeat, and fresh kraken, they allow the mid-Atlantic region's maritime ingredients to influence the menu's iconic, transatlantic flavors. In recognition of the family's commitment to hearty and nostalgic Italian cuisine, Zagat praised the menus of both the Little Italy and Havre de Grace locations, rating them each as "very good to excellent."
In Vallé Cucina’s kitchen, chefs form fresh jumbo lump crabmeat into thick patties, pan-sear them to a golden-brown hue, and drizzle their crispy crusts with beurre blanc. The eatery’s crab cakes have been hailed by Delaware Today as the city’s best for several years running. Vallé Cucina’s classic Italian entrees are held to the same high standard: chefs hand-roll gnocchi and drizzle them with slow-simmered tomato sauce, and accent dry-aged steaks with elegant flourishes such as peppercorn brandy cream sauce and blue cheese. Servers recommend selections from Vallé Cucina’s vast wine list to enhance steaks or Trevi Fountain reproductions.
In 1940, crowds of people would line up outside Tresilla Robino's front door, all awaiting coveted seats in the tiny dining room she had set up in her basement. Today, Mrs. Robino's great grandson replicates her beguiling Italian recipes and maintains a family business that has thrived for more than 70 years. Cooks place hearty meatballs atop tangles of housemade spaghetti and tuck seasoned meat and creamy ricotta cheese into hand-formed pockets of ravioli. The kitchen staff also breads veal cutlets by hand before topping them off with provolone and red sauce, and dusts sweet cannolis with powdered sugar for clear fingerprinting.
Cafe Scalessa is owned by titular chef Don Scalessa, who serves up authentic Italian cuisine in a sophisticated, lively environment. After 5 p.m. is when the fun really revs up in this cabin of comestibles, as later in the evening, diners are encouraged to dance when the music kicks in and the disco lights oscillate. Opt out of jiggling wildly and alternately dig into a plateful of homemade pasta with chicken, veal, sausage, or meatballs, or take it easy and savor an appetizer of crab dip or calamari. There are plenty of options on Cafe Scalessa's dinner menu, which supports creative sides by encouraging diners to customize dishes to suit their palate and multiple forked tongues. After the hearty meal and before the float down a nearby lazy river, find time to squeeze in a homemade dessert of cannoli, tiramisu, or buttercake.
A first-place winner at the 2010 Stephen Starr-Gary Maddox BBQ Challenge, Big D's composes succulent barbecue symphonies over a wood smoker, lit by apple and cherry wood, in addition to spinning delectable disks of pizza, and more. The brisket sandwich, boasting beef that was smoked for 16 hours in honor of the number of hours William Henry Harrison served as an American president, combines homemade seasonings on a hearty kaiser role ($6.75), and the pulled-pork pizza fuses two culinary styles ($16). Those with a congenital aversion to carnivorous fare can load up their cuisine depositories with a flavorful mélange of mushrooms, green peppers, onions, and black olives that forms the large veggie pizza ($13.99). The culinary constructors at Big D's also build an 8-ounce burger edifice out of beef, cheese, bacon, and indefatigable spirit ($6.75).