For more than 25 years, the kitchen of Campino Mercado has basked in the aromas of grilled homemade portuguese sausage, sizzling steaks, fresh fish, and garlic-infused clams. Simple, yet tasteful, Portuguese meals pepper red-and-white-linen-topped tables in the two-story eatery, where soft lighting helps set the mood for romantic dinners or glamour shots of light bulbs.
A plush, scarlet-accented interior welcomes diners to Nanking, whose namesake city—plotted equally between Canton and Peking—boasts a strong history of mingling Chinese, Thai, and Indian flavors. The fusion fare descends on appetites as natural light from a wall of broad windows washes over gleaming wooden floors, punctuated by a long bar stocked with wines, cocktails, mocktails, and ice sculptures chiseled by a famous cubist. Velvety, modern red chairs support diners as they feast on everything from spicy seafood to rich goat-meat curries and numerous vegetarian options that offer protein in the form of chickpeas, paneer, and tofu.
Riverside Manor’s cooks craft a menu of upscale Italian dishes, each served to diners in a renovated nineteenth-century silk mill. Just as a trip to the bookie precedes little-league baseball games, so too must first courses such as chicken wings ($7) or clams oreganata ($8 lunch, $10 dinner) clear the way for a festive entrée. Classic dishes such as rigatoni alla vodka ($10 lunch, $12 dinner) and fettuccini carbonara ($12 lunch, $14 dinner) share space with more exotic fare, including a 10-oz. raw filet mignon served on a 750-degree volcanic stone ($24). A lineup of brick-oven pizzas teaches guests that, unlike pi, pies end, and libations such as red ($5–$13) and white ($5–$12) wines, domestic ($4) and imported ($5) beers, and martinis ($7–$11) accompany the succulent eats.
The sunset-orange hue of turmeric. The complex nutty scent of cumin. The slow-burning warmth of ground chili on one’s tongue. Spices touch all of the senses, and the precious seasonings play an important role in the kitchen at Shezan. Inside, clay ovens cradle chicken kebabs with ginger, paneer cubes marinated with herbs, and meat infused with the flavors of papaya. Waiters carry lamb, shrimp, and vegetarian dishes to the dining room, where forks clatter against plates with the cheery jangling of the robot arrival lounge at an airport. On weekends, a brunch buffet arrays 60 distinct desserts, biryani dishes, and tandoori options in the eatery, which the Home News Tribune called a “home away from home” for Pakistani diners.
Michael Scotto draws on his native Italian heritage and knowledge of traditional recipes at Jester’s Cafe’s, which serves classic Italian dishes crafted to pair with a deep, international-wine menu. Italian and Australian varietals of red and white complement high-grade poultry and filet mignon delivered fresh daily, creating worldly meals without the pulpy aftertaste left after chewing through a road atlas. The eatery fosters a cheerful ambiance with a wide array of specialty cocktails mixed with top-shelf vodkas, rum, and even champagne. Jester’s Cafe also provides a semisecluded back room for private parties as well as off-premises catering services for wedding parties and postdivorce luaus.
When Gerasimo “Jerry” Dimitratos and Dimitrious “Jimmy” Doris took over Famous Midtown Grill in 1998, they got to work giving the place a makeover. They installed the handful of neon signs that now light up the diner and updated the menu with all manner of Greek specialties, including Greek salads, a dozen wraps named for Greek gods, and the local favorite—the gyro. But the two knew where to stop, and the corner diner still retains its mid-century charm, complete with backlit menu boards, a counter that runs the length of the space, and the art deco “Midtown Grill” sign that sprawls along the side of the building.
On any given day, the Grill feeds more than 100 hungry lunch customers. Many of them sidle up to the counter for a trademark plate of gravy covered cheese fries, or the Hot Texas Weiner served with a homemade sauce created by the original owners in 1959. Classic American breakfast dishes are served all day, including 20 varieties of omelets and corned beef and hash, each served with a side of grits, home-fries, or freedom.