Since Bella Pizza first opened its doors in 1992, shortcuts haven't been a part of the chefs' repertoire. Instead, they personally hand-make each disc of pizza dough from scratch, and begin every morning by simmering sauces out of fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil, and spices. From that quality start, the pizza experts can create one of their specialty artisan pizzas?sized to feed two people or one black hole?or customize thin-crust pies to guests' specifications. And the toppings are just as fresh as the dough they adorn, ranging from bacon and grilled chicken to sausage and black olives. The menu of Italian-American favorites also features hot sub sandwiches, pasta dishes, and wings served with one of five house-made sauces.
The warm, homespun vibe of the cuisine is echoed in the pizza parlor's decor. Reclaimed barn wood adorns a portion of the cozy space's walls, alongside framed photographs and accent mirrors. A handful of small tables invites pairs or groups to gather and share a slice, along with some lively conversation.
After emigrating to Baltimore from Palermo, Italy, Gioacchino Vaccaro wanted to share the pastries of his homeland with his new neighbors. In 1956, he founded his eponymous pastry shop, an establishment that has since expanded to include four locations. The culinary team dishes out cannoli that ensconce homemade ricotta filling, three-tiered rum cake, and crunchy biscotti cookies.
Beyond pastries, the eateries toast paninis and stuff classic mufalato sandwiches with Italian pepper ham, mortadella, and salami. To complement their meals, visitors can sip hand-crafted espresso drinks, such as cappuccinos in traditional “Italiano” style and house style, served with a dollop of whipped cream. For more adult pours, patrons can opt for assorted martinis, beers, and dessert wines.
At You Say When Yogurt, the customer is in control. They first choose their 16- or 12-oz. cup and fill it with any combination of 12 yogurt flavors, which are often inspired by fruits and desserts. The flavor lineup regularly changes, and may include such varieties as New York cheesecake, cotton candy, and no-sugar added coffee, along with seasonal favorites such as pumpkin, a required sacrifice to the Great Pumpkin. Then customers scatter toppings into their cups, choosing from more than 72 candies, fruits, and nuts. The colorful dessert creations are matched by the vibrant shop's bright aqua walls and lime green and orange accents.
Supper Thyme's goal is to de-stress the breakfast, lunch, and dinner hours by inviting visitors to craft hearty and nutritious meals beforehand. After perusing the monthly rotating menu, customers can select an assortment of calorie-conscious, family-friendly, or organically inspired dishes and schedule an appointment to come in and assemble the ingredients. Staff members then gather all of the necessary ingredients and utensils, ensuring that each meal can be assembled in as few as 10 minutes. In between portioning out servings, visitors can enjoy a snack while listening to music or chatting with fellow attendees in the shop’s casual, low-stress kitchen environment. The meals can remain safely frozen in homes' freezers, with easy-to-follow cooking instructions allowing customers to quickly thaw and cook entrees whenever they might need to feed families, guests, or a lost restaurant reviewer.
A flame erupts, nearly as tall as the chef standing just inches away. In just a moment, however, the blaze retreats, vanishing as suddenly as the splash of wine that conjured it. Such a sight is commonplace in the kitchen of Vittorio Scotto and Diego Colamonaco, who grew up steeped in the passion for food and healthy living that characterizes their homeland, Italy. After moving to the United States, the duo opened Scotto's Caf? to celebrate the flavors of their upbringing and give diners a more personable alternative to chain restaurants. Each day, rich aromas float from the kitchen into the dining space, tantalizing diners as the chefs finish dishes with drizzles of freshly prepared sauces. The culinary team also portions meals in bulk to cater events ranging from birthday parties to millinery-school graduations.
Inside the savory-scented digs of Honey Baked Ham & Cafe, spools of hardwood-smoked, spiral-sliced ham entice carnivorous palates. Here, chefs uphold the same traditions that Harry J. Hoenselaar created more than 40 years ago. Back then, he chose individual hams, cured them in his secret marinade, and smoked them over hardwood chips before offsetting the earthy flavor with a crisp, sweet glaze. To this day, the staff still makes the signature bone-in hams one at a time and glazes them in the shop.
The hammery's kitchens also whip up classic side dishes and desserts, such as the sweet-potato soufflé. For less formal feasting, party trays and packed lunch boxes fuel business meetings, backyard grad parties, and lengthy end-zone celebrations.