The chefs use their two spatulas with breathtaking ease—their every move honed by countless hours spent over a flat-top grill. Chopped veggies and pieces of steak, chicken, and seafood brown over the sizzling grill as the chefs prepare meals to order. The bite-size morsels are doused in soy or teriyaki sauce and sent out into the dining room of Sake Express as curlicues of heat dance above the plates. Relaxing in bright-blue booths, guests can feast on chicken or steak while challenging their reflection to a staring contest in the eatery’s oversized mirrors, flanked by panels of red-and-black latticework on the walls.
Hollie, the lady behind Sugar Diva's Custom Cakes, bakes fresh, homemade treats from fine ingredients. The business specializes in custom cakes for special occasions such as weddings and birthdays, fashioning them with multiple tiers, elegant accouterments, and stunning designs. They also specialize in smaller treats, which range from gooey chocolate chip cookies and brownies to cupcakes, chocolate fudge, made-to-order pies, and old-fashioned candies.
When Jerry Simonetti was a young boy, his grandmother told him, “when you grow up, you’re going to be a chef.” She had plenty of evidence to back up her theory: as a child, Jerry spent hours in the kitchen watching her prepare traditional Italian dishes from scratch. Sure enough, after graduating from college he embarked on a 20-year career as a chef and restaurateur that culminated in the opening of his own restaurant—Simonetti’s.
To create Simonetti’s menu of pizza and pasta, Jerry relies on generations of family recipes and simple, fresh ingredients. Specialty pizzas exemplify the eatery’s focus on simplicity: most contain three toppings or fewer including fresh basil, ricotta cheese, and cured meats. In keeping with a true Italian dining experience, Simonetti’s carries a selection of affordable wines, and waiters deliver all dishes via gondola.
Johnny B’s friendly chefs welcome families to relax over a hand-tossed pie, baked wings, and hoagies in a festive, colorful dining room. Families sharing dinner glance over the menu to pick an appetizer such as baked salt-and-pepper wings or garlic-butter pretzel drops as addictive as stealing candy from babies. For pizza, the classic Big Toad is crowded with savory bacon, beef, and ham balanced with crunches of green pepper and black olive. An alternative to traditional mozzarella and tomato sauce, the Frozen Pond pie spreads a base of oil and garlic under tomatoes, onions, and three cheeses to bake a pie as cheesy as an Elvis impersonator raised on a dairy farm. A team of tasty wraps, hoagies, and pockets tempts diners to stray from the pizza list in favor of a buffalo-chicken wrap seasoned with ranch, Bulliard’s hot sauce, and gooey provolone or a Johnny’s club hoagie accepting membership from ham, cheese, turkey, and bacon, if it gets its act together. If diners drop in between Monday and Wednesday, they can split delicious desserts such as the house-favorite cinnamon drops.
Catawba BBQ & Grill is the successor to Ranucci’s BBQ & Grill, whose menu it hasn't wholly discarded. What three words would describe the food on the new menu? Barbecued, smoked, and pulled. Whether offered in sandwich form or spread across a plate, the pulled pork and chicken gets barbecued and can be smoked in-house for more than 12 hours. Or, dry-rubbed racks of ribs can get served in half or full quantity.
Of course, it wouldn't be Carolina barbecue without southern twists. The chefs take the philly cheesesteak and make it their own by topping pulled pork with onions, peppers, mushrooms, and melted cheddar. Or, they unite smoked beef brisket with melted swiss cheese, barbecue sauce, and jalapeño coleslaw to make a zesty carolina Reuben. Beginning May 13 the establishment will be open seven days a week.
New York-style thin-crust pizza headlines the menu at Market Street Pizza. Each disc is made to order in classic and creative combinations, such as the cheeseburger pie topped with dill-pickle chips and mustard or the super chicken pizza, which arrives dressed with mushrooms, bacon, provolone, and a bulletproof cape. Pizza toppings also take cover in calzones stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, and subs clench fillings inside white or wheat hoagie rolls.