Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
More than a dozen sauces simmer in the kitchen at Galileo’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria, ready to top unsuspecting pasta with rich flavors. In addition to classic francese, marsala, and milanese preparations of chicken, veal, and seafood, the restaurant also prepares various heroes, wraps, and paninis. There's gourmet pizza, too, such as Galileo’s Special, whose pepperoni, sausage, peppers, and mushrooms aren’t yet convinced that the Earth is round. A wrought-iron lamp hangs over the dining room, where black-upholstered booths are flanked by walls painted a rich chocolate brown or inlaid with stones.
Founded in 1954 by James McLamore and David Edgerton, Burger King rapidly expanded from humble beginnings as a lone burger joint to more than 12,400 locations across 79 countries today, making it the second-largest fast-food-hamburger chain in the world. Its signature burger—the Whopper sandwich—consists of one to three flame-broiled, quarter-pound beef patties crowned with a miniature fedora and a fully customizable array of toppings such as tomatoes, onions, and dill pickles. Focused on continual improvement, the chain recently reinvented the fries that accompany each value meal, outfitting the spud slices with a thicker cut of potato for a fluffier texture on the inside and crispier golden-brown exterior. A spread of decadent desserts including dutch apple pie and an Oreo sundae keeps sweet teeth from elongating into fangs, and made-to-order breakfast sandwiches clasp eggs, american cheese, and bacon, sausage, or ham between two halves of a flaky croissant to round out the speedy menu.
For some, the test of a good burger is how juicy its center remains after coming off the grill. For others, satisfaction correlates with the number of condiments the bun can hold. When Bella was a child, her test was simple: if the burger was good, it would make her hum a little song. At least that's the story Bella's father tells.
Today, the team at Bella’s Burger Shack aims to inspire that same musical urge in its patrons. The cooks primarily do so with grade-A, never-frozen Bella burgers, served on Martin's potato bread beside steaming sides of hand-cut fries. Signature bacon-wrapped and deep-fried dogs also whet customers' humming whistles, aptly washed down with Wild Bill’s Olde Fashioned soda, always free of high-fructose corn syrup, or a creamy Bella milk shake.
While the sophisticated dishes at Sette Cucina Italiana are derived from simple and classic Italian flavor combinations, the culinary background of its chef, Allan Philip Russo, is decidedly more complex. His heritage draws a roadmap through central Europe; born in Switzerland, he comes from a long line of Sicilian fishermen and used to watch his aunt as she worked as a personal chef to the stars in Zürich. In the 1980s, his father, Filippo Russo, assembled the family’s recipes and moved from Sicily to America, where he established his own Italian restaurant and allowed young Allan to join him in the kitchen. Today, Allan pays homage to his Sicilian heritage by adding fresh ideas and what he refers to as a “New York City twist” to his father’s methods. His petite filet sates several senses with aromas such as green peppercorns and truffle essence, and his mediterranean gray snapper comes with a French–style tomato ratatouille. Venetian vialone nano rice transforms into risotto, which he finishes with saffron, asparagus, and parmiagiano-reggiano. In a reflection of its menu, the restaurant’s décor calls to mind European hospitality and creates an ambience deemed “chic [and] hospitable” by New Jersey Monthly. To keep it cozy, the New Jersey–based architecture firm Cerminara Architect designed a dining room that seats about 32 guests and juxtaposes elements of fine dining with rustic touches. A high, tin ceiling allows for impressive full-length windows, from which natural light illuminates sheer drapes, white tablecloths, and wrought-iron chandeliers. Therein, families, couples, and business partners raise crystal stemware in a toast to Italian culinary traditions and Galileo’s discovery of crystal stemware.
Bensi co-owner Genci Previzi helms an immense menu of classic Italian cuisine, including hearty homestyle dishes with roots in Calabria, Italy. Entrees, joined by a house salad or cup of comforting housemade soup, range from spaghetti and meatballs to gluten-free grilled chicken in a lemon-garlic marinade served over a veggie medley. The chefs also prepare an array of specials such as pignoli-crusted goat cheese and arugula salad, barolo-braised veal osso buco, pan-seared Chilean sea bass with eggplant caponata, and nutella chocolate pizza with fresh strawberries. The dishes are served in a modern dining atmosphere where minimal table settings and simple dark-wood furniture keep the focus on the vibrant cuisine.