The chefs at Yagg Sii Tenn Catering hail from Senegal—a West African country where vendors peddle tropical fruits in bustling marketplaces and fishermen pluck fresh fish from the bountiful sea. When they arrived on North Carolina soil, the chefs brought with them a wealth of traditional African recipes as well as a deep appreciation for good food and family. Today, they distribute housemade dishes from Senegal and other African countries throughout North Carolina.
Deep in the Yagg Sii Tenn kitchen, the chefs fold fresh ingredients and authentic spices into complex dishes—from spicy grilled chicken yassa to flavorful jollof rice. They also bottle their recipes in the form of housemade traditional sauces, such as the fresh roasted-habanero Kani spread and the garlic-and-lemon vinaigrette. The culinary crew has served these freshly made African specialties at weddings, large parties, and odd incidences when everyone in town is inexplicably drawn to the same abandoned factory in the middle of the night.
Though his restaurant's menu of gourmet dishes suggests years spent in culinary schools, Paul Zoccola's most influential teacher was his mother. Even with seven children, she filled the family table with homemade dishes. Instilled with a desire to spread those recipes outside of his native Naples, Zoccola journeyed to America, where he started his first restaurant in New Jersey before opening Lubrano’s Ristorante Italiano in 2002.
A decade later, Zoccola still strives to unite other families over pastas, sandwiches, and pizzas crowned with sun-dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, sausage, and fresh garlic. Happy chatter picks up in the dining room as forks drop contentedly onto plates laced with traces of tomato-cream sauce, house-made alfredo, and white-wine reductions. The chef also crafts a full catering menu, which can feed large parties or help with police stings to catch people swimming right after eating.
Bartenders pour and mix more than 30 tequilas as chefs craft elegant Tex-Mex dishes that follow Yucatán traditions. Upscale entrees range from pan-seared duck breast with roasted poblano-mashed potatoes to marinated steak swathed in pasilla and ancho chilies in hefty quesadillas. A sea of crystals cascades down a spiral-shaped chandelier that dangles above the fully stocked bar, where Cazadores and Patrón liquors head up an extensive tequila cache. Bartenders also craft numerous specialty margaritas, enhancing sips with such ingredients as fresh lime mixers and agave nectar. Patrons can feast eyes on multiple flat-screen TVs in the dining area, or venture to an outdoor patio to construct a canopy of tortilla chips that will guard against inclement weather.
Rajbhog Cafe established its first franchise location more than two decades ago, and master chef Ishwar Signh continues this savory success story by drawing on more than 15 years of experience cooking Punjabi cuisine to craft a menu of regional Indian specialties. Modern hanging lights dangle like curious acrobats over steaming lamb and chicken curries infused with unique ingredients such as homemade cheese and ginger. After taste touring India at the expansive buffet, patrons can peruse Rajbhog Cafe’s line of nationally distributed sweets and snacks, which allows guests to take home pieces of the restaurant without the hassle of pocketing deep fryers.
At Vino Ristorante, every dining experience blends on the New-World traditions of Italian-Americans and the Old-World presentations of cuisine native to Northern Italy. Chefs craft traditional and contemporary comfort foods, employing homemade pastas as well as gluten-free and whole-wheat alternatives. Entrees range from freshly grilled meats with a delicate topping of fresh arugula to sauce-laden bowls of spaghetti with homemade meatballs. Bartenders accessorize each meal with glasses of Italian wine or cocktails made with hand-squeezed juices, freshly muddled berries, and ice cubes fashioned by an animatronic Mr. Freeze.
Rustic yellow walls stretch up to the high ceilings in Vino Ristorante’s dining room, lending an Old-World charm to the polished wooden tables and metalwork that evoke a more modern feel. On Saturdays, the restaurant hosts live musical performances as long as diners agree to help keep time by chewing in unison.
The chefs at Paradise India Cuisine use traditional techniques and ingredients shipped directly from India to craft their dum biryanis. That kind of authentic touch spreads across their menu replete with classic fare such as Chettinad goat curry, lamb vindaloo, and chicken tikka masala. To add a modern touch to their feast-worthy collection of classic cuisine, they now cook up crab, variety of dosas and authentic indo-chinese items such as chilli chicken, manchurians and noodles, and fried rice.