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.
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.
Fresh made-from-scratch ingredients collide in Mia Carolina's culinary carburettor, decorating plates and dazzling diners with a tasty fusion of New World and Old World Italian cuisine. Complement nibbles of its crisp bread with a faithful reading of its lunch or dinner menus, which yield appetite- and mind-stoking antipasti such as the cozze marinara's touching seafood anthology ($9 lunch, $10–$12 dinner) and the involtino di prosciutto di Parma's hearty paean to herbed goat cheese, grilled asparagus, and Italy's twinkling ham rivulets ($10). Pie jockeys can saddle up to the flavorful pizza margherita ($9 lunch, $10 dinner) or the veggie-infused capricciosa ($10 lunch, $12 dinner), and pasta promoters can treat their belly to the fettucine alfredo ($9 lunch, $12 dinner). Each tender cut of the veal marsala comes with fortifications of mushrooms, pearl onions, and roasted-garlic mashed potatoes ($23 dinner).
Chef Rocco Gargano grew up in Matera, Italy. The son of a farmer, Rocco developed a deep appreciation for fresh, sun-kissed ingredients at an early age. Both father and son relocated to the United States in 1962, and Rocco longed to use his skills in a fine-dining setting.
Now, inside Rocco's Capriccio in Little Italy, Rocco and his kitchen staff filet fresh fish for specialties such as the grouper livornese with a sauce made from freshly chopped tomatoes, capers, and olives. They thinly slice prosciutto and melt shredded fontina cheese into a cream sauce before spreading both across cuts of filet mignon or models in public-service announcements about food fights. The chirping sound of ice against glass drifts from the bar, where mixologists blend dessert-appropriate martinis made with limoncello and Godiva chocolate liqueur, along with coffee drinks enriched by rum, Baileys, amaretto, and whipped cream. An exhaustively researched and described wine list draws heavily on sangiovese, canaiolo, and trebbiano grapes—Italian fruit much like the crops Rocco tended as a child.