As a boy, Michael Colletti watched his immigrant father and grandparents prepare age-old family recipes they brought with them from their Sicilian home. He watched them in awe as they used ingredients, such figs and cardoons, from their own backyard to craft an array of traditional Italian dishes. Needless to say, this early fascination led him toward formal training as a grown-up, which launched him into a career as a chef and restaurateur. Since graduating from the Culinary Education Center, he has worked in restaurants lauded by the New York Times, helped found Good Stuff Eatery, and won the "Rachel Ray Burger Bash" contest at the 2009 Food & Wine Festival. After all this success, Chef Colletti decided to go back to his roots. To do this, he opened VB3 Restaurant, where he blends the Sicilian flavors of his youth with the wide array of culinary techniques he mastered as an adult.
Since opening, VB3 Restaurant has really become two restaurants in one. On the one hand, the dining room makes for an excellent place to enjoy a romantic meal featuring the chef’s roasted branzino or seasonal penne primavera, as well as live music and dancing. On the other hand, the take-out line provides easy access to the eatery’s Italian-style pizza—a specialty based on dough recipes a young Michael learned from his cousin, who came up with them during his stint living in an Italian oven.
There’s something for everyone on the eclectic menu at Fashion Pizza. Available pie toppings include classic pepperoni, sausage, and veggies, in addition to more creative options such as kimchi, seaweed, and shrimp tempura. Elsewhere on the menu, falafel mingles with cheeseburgers and paninis, and desserts include sweet crepes and funnel cakes.
When owner Joe Barrett bought the former Clifton Beef & Ale House, he had his work cut out for him. But he pooled his extensive restaurant experience to transform the former greasy spoon into its current classy incarnation, Riverside Bar & Grill. The resulting menu features upscale Italian cuisine, such as chicken saltimbocca, penne alla vodka, and shrimp fra diavolo. Bar-side, you can also munch on a margherita pizza or ribeye sandwiches.
Despite the gourmet menu and beautiful decor—sconces and framed art line butterscotch-color walls—the atmosphere is refreshingly laid back. Diners can sip beer and wine as plasma TVs broadcast baseball, football, and extreme competitive stamp collecting.
When he cofounded his first sandwich shop in 1965, 17-year-old Fred DeLuca planned to use his profits to pay his way through medical school. But the combination of quality ingredients and friendly service at the shop—then called Pete's Subway—proved so popular that nine years later, he and his partner found themselves in charge of 16 locations across Connecticut, and Fred left behind his doctoring plans for a career in business.
Today, Subway restaurants number over 34,000 around the world—almost as many shops as there are sightings of Elvis buying cold cuts. At each location, staffers pile sliced ham, marinara-slathered meatballs, and other fillings into halved loaves of bread before customizing handhelds with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and other healthy toppings plucked from chilled containers behind the counter. Salads free crisp veggies from bread's overprotective embrace, and crunchy baked chips or apple slices accompany entrees to tables. Subway's website also facilitates health-conscious eating by listing each item's nutrition information and fastest mile time online.
Mill House Restaurant's stonework builds up a façade that lends the eatery a traditional flair that perfectly synchronizes with its menu of Old-World Italian dishes. In the kitchen, chefs ladle marinara, white-wine, and cream sauce over fresh, piping-hot pasta and seafood, along with classic cuts of veal, chicken, and pork. The kitchen doesn't scrimp on dessert, either, and prepares each offering from scratch so customers can end meals on a sweet note by pairing their sugary treat with a house-made cappuccino or the faces of unsuspecting dining partners.
With live music every weekend of the year and a wall plastered with a Joe Strummer banner, Bardi’s Grill’s prevalent rock 'n' roll theme stands in contrast to its genre-defying menu. Eclectic eats run the gamut from classic Americana—including half-pound burgers on kaiser rolls—to Italian meals of eggplant lasagna and thin-crust pizza. The international menu not only draws from the US and Italy but also the ocean in between, with a tangle of linguine topped with shrimp, calamari, mussels, and other seafood much tastier than once-common fillets of tugboat. Weekly specials ranging from sizzling steaks to discounted three-course meals add an element of surprise to the menu, along with a Monday–Friday happy hour.