Luna Blu?s walls showcase hand-painted murals of an idyllic Naples coastline, its cerulean hues echoing the dining room?s candles and blue glass accents. While the decor evokes the Italian landscape, the cuisine barrels straight into authenticity. Owner and executive chef Erin Dryden peppers the pasta dishes and stews with fresh seafood, just as cooks in Naples might fill their entrees with fish from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Additionally, sweet Italian sausage or artichoke hearts mingle with colorful cheese tortellini, and an ample wine list complements entrees.
Before chefs at Carini's Pizza, Subs & Pasta pick up a single pepperoni or shred of mozzarella, they mix, knead, and hand-stretch dough and prepare sauce from scratch. Then, and only then, pizzas are personalized with more than two-dozen toppings, from chicken and bleu cheese to ground beef, sour cream, tomatoes, nacho chips, and mozzarella. But the menu also includes alternatives for guests who ate pizza for breakfast and lunch: pasta and sub sandwiches can stop them from consuming three round meals.
After working in family-owned restaurants in Italy for years, the chefs behind DiMeo's Pizzeria decided to open their own eatery in the States. Inventive specialty pizzas like the Philly Supreme (topped with rib-eye chopped steak) pop out of ovens before heading to tables alongside plates of veal parmigiana and lasagna bolognese.
Sponsored by the Love for Luca foundation for the second consecutive year, the Italian Wine Market Festival raises glasses and awareness for the fight against cancer. Mingle outdoors below a white-crested tent, sample domestic and international elixirs that enchant tongues with swirling mixtures of tannins and notes of fruit, and demonstrate an ability to speak eloquently while holding a pint of red wine in your cheeks. While not a formal, bow-tie pasta event, the well-seasoned chefs from the Italian Market and Restaurant cater the festival, piling plates with portions of rustic, gourmet cuisine for festival-goers. Between bites, pit the fruitful whispers of pinot noir against buttery compliments from chardonnays or the spritely tongue of a sauvignon blanc. Music and food tastings wind well into the evening, and a portion of the festival's proceeds benefit the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, donated on behalf of the Love for Luca organization.
In the mines of northeastern Pennsylvania, workers heave loads of clean-burning anthracite coal and ship them to businesses such as Coal Fire, where chefs scoop the same coal into their 900-degree ovens to bake pizzas and wings. Before baking the pies, the chefs hand-toss the aged dough, then cover it with one of three original sauces and thick, house-made mozzarella cheese, as well as only the freshest produce and toppings such as sun-dried tomatoes and pepperoni. Outside the kitchen, servers slide across the polished floorboards, delivering platters of steaming pizzas and frosty drinks from the full bar.
Conjuring authentic Italian cuisine, the chefs at Lupo di Mare cook a variety of upscale pastas, entrees, and dishes. A true team player in Mediterranean cooking, olives—marinated and served with sun-dried tomatoes and herbs ($4)—start the meal by proving their tasty batting average, and the lobster bruschetta pitches a perfect culinary game on crostini with lobster, rosemary-lemon cream, white beans, and chili oil ($11). Tiny balls of gnocchi kindle a loving bond with herb-whipped ricotta while wading through a red sea of tomato sauce ($16). With roasted mushrooms and fragile baby green beans, tender veal cutlets covered in a rich marsala demi-glace never find themselves dining alone ($22). The pan-seared sea bass—caught off the coast of the famous, sun-baked Italian city of Pan—cloaks itself in sweet corn, pancetta risotto, spinach, and white balsamic butter ($26). Because consuming Italian food without wine is practically a crime, Lupo di Mare supplies a long and varied list of whites, reds, and dessert wines to complement any dish.