To create their authentic Italian flavors, the cooks at LaCucina Restaurant don't import ingredients from Italy. Rather, they rely on locally sourced fixings, such as the little-neck clams they toss with handmade linguini and a choice of red or white clam sauce. Plenty of other dishes showcase seafood, too, including capellini topped with 1.25 pounds of lobster, only 103.75 pounds shy of qualifying for the high-school wrestling team.
The eatery's other old-world specialties center on different proteins, from veal coated in white-wine demi glace to chicken breast stuffed with lobster meat and dried cranberries. Served amidst touches of exposed brick and paintings of the old country, feasts can be complemented by reds and whites from LaCucina's extensive wine bar.
Owner Tony Lanni's mother Maria oversees all of the chopping, grilling, sautéing, and baking that unfolds inside of Il Fornello's kitchen to ensure that each Italian dish gets seasoned with adequate amounts of homey comfort. Piles of pasta, sizzling steaks doused in a variety of sauces, fresh seafood, and juicy chicken dishes adorn golden tablecloths inside the ruby-hued dining room, where rollaway dividers offer increased privacy and can be configured into barricades for impromptu food fights. Il Fornello also hosts private parties for up to 80 people and offers comprehensive catering services for soirees at other locations in the solar system.
Each dish that leaves executive chef Robert Hennemann’s kitchen is made from scratch. He ladles housemade sauce over breaded chicken breasts and puffs up ravioli with a hefty infusions of cheese. Servers cart platefuls of broiled scallops and house-cut sirloin to tables topped with lace cloths that can double as veils for impromptu weddings.
Il Piccolo Ristorante's menu is a cornucopia of traditional Tuscan fare. Initiate a feast with bruschetta del nord—italian toast capped in roasted eggplant, tomato, and pecorino cheese ($6.50 dinner, $5.95 lunch)—or pan-fried calamari fritters ($9.95), which perform well with a red or white accompanist from the extensive wine list or a cocktail from the fully stocked bar. The fettuccine pollo e timo ($15.95 dinner, $9.95 lunch) is a popular feeding choice, and bellies can admirably accessorize their inner chambers with tortellini katiuscia, an imported dish whose pasta purses are filled with mild blue cheese and ensconced in creamy vodka pink sauce ($14.95 dinner, $9.50 lunch). Gnocchi piemontese pampers taste buds with a soothing massage of house-made chive ricotta pasta, mushrooms, herbs, tomato sauce, parmigiano, and mozzarella carefully forged from curds ($14.95 dinner, $9.50 lunch).
Cheese isn't the only thing that Mozzarella's Grill & Bar does right. The casual Italian eatery has a massive menu that's made all the more impressive by its chefs' attention to detail. Whether they're cooking up blackened haddock, gorgonzola steak tips, or one of their specialty pizzas, they always manage to find the sweet spot between taste and tradition. It's evident that the same care has been given to each of the restaurant's physical locations, some of which are outfitted with a patio for al fresco dining. For large family gatherings or a full-scale invasion of a neighbor's backyard, Mozzarella's catering services can feed an army with a mere 48-hour advance notice.
Reali's Fine Italian Cuisine's owner and chef, Jim Reali assembles meats, pastas, and sauces into hearty Italian creations using cooking skills first cultivated when he was 16 years old. Diners choose between upscale offerings such as veal and chicken parmigiana or call the waiter via foghorn to order seafood selections. Downpours of rich tomato sauce cascade over pastas, and, as meals unfold, eaters can repurpose pieces of penne as straws to sip white, red, and blush wines sourced from domestic and international vineyards.