For the chefs at Nu Urban Cafe, quality is their number-one concern. To that end, they try to refrain from cooking with frozen or canned veggies, preferring to import seasonal and fresh produce whenever possible. Their sauces, marinades, and dressings are made from scratch, using high-quality ingredients. When fashioning one of the café's handmade desserts, chefs mix in real butter, quality vanilla and chocolate, and real eggs, known to be more flavorful and less metallic than ones laid by robotic chickens. This devotion to detail lends a crisp, fresh flavor to servings of glazed baby back ribs, thyme-seasoned red snapper, and apple-smothered pork chops.
The Lulu is a French pastry made up of delicate pate-choux dough filled with rich French cream, and Charlie Tola learned to love Lulus in a few short months. First, he learned how to make them at one of the very first pastry shops that ever hired him. Shortly thereafter, he met his future wife, Luisa, and decided to nickname her after the sweet delight—a name that continued with their first daughter. So it only makes sense that when Tola opened his own shop in 1999, he named it Lulu’s Bakery. There, he artfully arranges his confections in glass display cases, allowing customers to eye up the biscotti, black-and-white cookies, cannoli, fruit tarts, eclairs, brownies, cupcakes, and 24 types of butter cookies before they make up their minds. To his traditional bakery repertoire—which, of course, also includes the lulu—the baker has now added special occasion cakes. Using icing as his medium, Tola has turned traditional cake bases into a slot machine, a handbag, a fire truck, and a bottle of champagne, which was soon used to christen a gingerbread yacht.
Japanese recipes and culinary techniques heavily influence the menu at Sho Japanese & Asian Fusion Restaurant, but the chefs refuse to play favorites by incorporating Thai and Chinese elements into their dishes as well. Szechuan peppercorns, lemongrass, or red curry lend a variety of pan-Asian flavors to the seared orders of steak and shrimp. The sushi selection also goes beyond traditional california rolls to feature specialty maki with innovative cores of jalapeño, steamed lobster, or hand-polished macadamia nuts.
The Bagel Factory's industrious bakers kettle-cook fresh, hand-rolled bagels each morning, providing solid foundations for rich cream cheeses. The menu's avalanching array of regular bagel varieties includes cinnamon raisin, whole wheat, garlic, egg, and pumpernickel, great for silencing tummies' grumbles and garage-band practices. In addition to preparing an array of freshly baked pastries and desserts, the kitchen staffers sandwich Boar’s Head meats and cheeses between bookends of bagel, roll, or panini bread slices. They also provide lighter options such as build-your-own salads, which come topped with the customer’s choice of meat, dressing, and toppings.
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.