For Avi and Michaella Ben-Ari, opening a restaurant was an obvious step to take together. Avi's keen mind for business and his entrepreneurial experience, coupled with chef Michaella's degree from Tadmor Culinary Arts school in Tel-Aviv, made for a natural partnership. With the goal of introducing area diners to the warmth and hospitality inherent to Middle Eastern dining rooms, the Ben-Aris and their staff fill the restaurant with the aromas of handmade dishes and photos of each diner's grandmother. They make all of their Levantine staples from scratch, crafting them only with organic vegetables and meats. In the bustling kitchen, chefs eschew canned and frozen ingredients for healthful ones such as fire-grilled eggplant, antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken, and freshly diced tomatoes and cucumbers.
Xenia Bistro's chefs slide modern American updates and fresh, seasonal ingredients into time-tested family recipes. Inspired by culinary customs of Eastern Europe, they enlist burning wood to grill their pizzas and animated golems to prepare their pasta, steaks, and seafood. Their bartending brethren station themselves behind a granite bar, where they mix specialty cocktails with an arsenal of spirits that includes premium liquors and wines from near and far.
A rich, earth-tone color palette swathes nearly every surface of the bistro's interior, from lustrous table tops to wooden pillars to antique-looking window shutters. Just beyond a full wall of windows, a roomy patio encloses diners in foliage and sunlight.
Known for their successful takeover of Hudson Bay Café, I Squared proprietors Sadri Madjlessi and Tanya Anderson partner with executive chef Nory Madjlessi to combine traditional Iranian and Italian fare into one bold menu. Chef Nory honed his Italian culinary skills under Giovanni LoCoco at LoCoco's and absorbed knowledge of traditional Iranian recipes and cooking techniques from his mother. Rather than attempting traditional fusion fare, Chef Nory aims to stay true to the flavors of both countries, filling I Squared's ever-changing menu with Iranian staples such as fesenjoon—a stew of chicken, walnuts, and saffron served over basmati rice—as well as Italian classics, such as eggplant parmigiana. Using local and sustainable ingredients when possible, Chef Nory preps his signature lamb-stuffed cabbage wraps as patrons peek in the open kitchen from their places at minimalist butcher-block-topped tables. A stainless-steel-topped bar holds a beginner's alchemy kit and the makings of specialty and dessert cocktails along with extensive wine and beer offerings.
Executive chef Vanessa Dang follows up her first blockbuster of French-inspired Vietnamese dishes with this intimate sequel promising elegant small-plate options and explosive flavors. The menu pokes sleepy taste buds with shareable small plates such as maple-leaf duck-confit lettuce wraps ($9) and tuna-and-salmon poke with ginger, avocado, mango, and cucumber-and-tomato salsa ($9). Full-sized entrees combine intercontinental palates with mouth-warping orders of cumin-marinated jumbo prawns and garlic noodles ($16) or a rack of lamb marinated with Dijon-mustard peppercorn in a Bing-cherry reduction ($25). Fill out abridged meals with a glass from the saga-worthy, 150-bottle wine list or a sweet-tooth-regaling Fuji-apple-and-coconut egg roll ($8).
In the Tao Restaurant kitchen, chefs labor over stoves during the three-day process of crafting housemade noodles and broth for their authentic Japanese ramen dishes. Iron grills sizzle with the meats and seafood of Japanese teppanyaki and teriyaki entrees, and sushi chefs slice up colorful maki rolls, adorning them with flourishes of cucumber flowers, slivers of radish, and intricately sculpted dollops of wasabi. Servers bear plates out into the dining room, where sunlight pours in through towering windows onto sleek tabletops. Nearby, pots of bamboo shake gently as though they were caught in a ge
Linger at one of The New Ristorante Forli's tables long enough, and owners Gabriele Davanzante or Russ Belleci might sidle up to the table to tell a joke or spontaneously burst into an Old Italian song. Flourishes like these imbue The New Ristorante Forli with the aura of a traditional Italian trattoria. In addition to a pair of jovial Italian hosts, The New Ristorante Forli cements its status as a cultural bastion by plating classic dishes such as osso bucco and braised lamb shank. Tuscan chianti and California pinot grigio punctuate the restaurant’s extensive wine list. Additionally, dining companions can cast aside games of napkin peek-a-boo and dance to live music on Friday and Saturday nights.