Mountains of pasta, slabs of steak, and oceanic delights romp across American Bistro's menu. The restaurant's faux-marble walls are bathed in warm light and bedecked with paintings and landscape murals that transport patrons back to the old country as smoothly as Julius Caesar's zipline. Feast upon time-tested Italian dishes including shrimp scampi ($11.95 during lunch; $16.95 dinner) or filet of Pisa, whose twin spires of 5-ounce steaks, mozzarella, and tomatoes ($26.95) tower over appetites. Reenact your favorite opera while noshing on lunchtime comestibles such as the Fradiavolo pizza ($8.95), where Italian sausage, mushrooms, and red onions play tug-o-war with stringy mozzarella ropes over spicy tomato sauce. American Bistro's shelves brim with a parade of libations including wine ($6/glass on average), beer ($4 on average), and the jealous tears of Bacchus.
Portalli's Chef Keith Holsey portions his dishes according to the traditional Italian four-course meal. This doesn't stop the chef from crafting a menu of creatively interpreted Italian classics, though, such as Cioppino over fettuccine or Salmon con Granchio. Chef Holsey's creations consist of uncomplicated flavors that, according to the Baltimore Sun, allow "good and simple ingredients to work together." Portalli's also caters to families with dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs or meatball flatbread pizza, which teaches kids about fractions so they don't have to learn about them on the street.
Inside Nora Cafe & Bakery, housemade cakes and Italian-style cookies gather in the long, sloping pastry cases that line one side of the casual dining room. Referencing generations-old recipes, Nora’s team of bakers craft handmade dough to create fluffy puff pastry, pies, and cakes. The restaurant also serves Italian dinners, with plates of lasagna, spaghetti, and steaks complemented by garlic bread almost as warm as a blanket that’s on fire. The team serves those dishes between bright, orange walls flecked with framed photos, amid a sea of red tables with cushioned chairs.
At Roma’s Pizza, patrons will find something interesting on the menu: Mexican food. Though specialties in hand-tossed pizza and stuffed subs both hot and cold headline the restaurant’s menu, chefs also sizzle fajitas, ladle jumbo shrimp over spanish rice, and slather nachos with cheese. Ten years of experience aids the staff in preparing such a lengthy selection, that, of course, includes both traditional, New York–style circular pies and doughy Sicilian squares. They also bake strombolis and calzones, press paninis, and toss fresh salads.
The owners of Pasta Blitz employ recipes and cooking techniques inherited from their Neapolitan mother to create a menu of homemade pastas, grilled seafood, and veal-based entrees. Mirroring the aesthetic of an Italian trattoria, the restaurant’s relaxed, convivial atmosphere puts diners at ease as they indulge in authentic delicacies such as baked ziti, mushroom risotto, and calamari with caper-and-lemon sauce. Once the sun sets, the restaurant transforms from a casual eatery into an intimate spot for first dates or an awkward location for traffic-court proceedings.