Girasole Ristorante fuses Philadelphia's harvest with Italian inspiration. That inspiration comes firsthand from the chefs: the kitchen is filled with Italian women, and one of them, "culinary maestra" Rosalba Moricci, even travels to Italy every year in search of new recipes and techniques to bring back to the restaurant.
That's not the only thing that keeps the menu feeling as fresh as the filet-mignon carpaccio. Moricci also tweaks her dishes depending on what the local farms produce season by season. Visiting the Atlantic City location in 2011, Atlantic City Weekly found seafood specials that were "as good as it gets" and desserts showing "restraint coupled with creativity," much like a bejeweled pair of handcuffs.
Along with fresh, raw beef and seafood, the menu relies on a few other perennial elements. Pastas, including a gnocchi tossed with stracchino cheese and plum tomatoes, are all made in-house. So is the bread, designed to soak up stray sauces and juices from plates such as a grilled Tasmanian salmon or hot, sweet italian sausage with veggies.
Under the leadership of owner Nicholas Mineo and executive chef Michael Simpson, the experienced culinary team at Sausalido concocts an ever-changing array of New American– and European-style dishes from a wealth of local produce. Though Chef Simpson's menu changes seasonally, he always pairs seafood, pasta, and meat entrees with salad, locally baked rustic bread, and a white bean and fresh rosemary dipping sauce whipped up in-house.
Sausalido’s main dining room evokes the aesthetics of the Napa Valley with soothing jazz music and acrobatic sommeliers dangling from grapevines, while still incorporating work from Pittsburgh artists to remind the walls where they come from. The expanse hosts up to 40 diners who can BYOB, while upstairs, a private party room fits up to 30 guests. Along with hosting in-house celebrations, Sausalido feeds guests at offsite soirees with catered cuisine from its 12-page catering menu.
Catering to sports fans and families alike, Starters Pub boasts a menu of American comfort eats that includes burgers, sandwiches, and steaks. Filet mignon sandwiches with sautéed onions and Firehouse burgers with spicy wing sauce and jalapeños share menu space with more far-flung offerings, such as cuban paninis and orange chicken. Guests can cheer on their favorite teams on the pub's big screens or take meals on the outdoor patio when temperatures climb.
Owner Mike Karasavas's dream has come to fruition: he has spearheaded not one, but two Media, PA, restaurants—the upscale Generations Restaurant steakhouse, and its casual counterpart, The Drawing Room Pizza Pub, good for families, late night entertainment, and tasty pizza. The pub features a fully stocked bar, stage, and lush outdoor patio, creating a fitting backdrop for its weekly dance parties, poker tournaments, and live music performances. When discussing such events with reporters from Suburban Life Magazine, Mike said, "our pizza pub absolutely fills a need no other place does. People can come to dance or get dressed up to enjoy a date night."
To fuel this constant stream of activity, the eatery's chefs whip up a variety of upscale pub favorites, from juicy angus beef burgers to authentic Italian pastas. The stars of their kitchen, however, are the thin crust artisanal pizzas, which chefs make from fresh dough, homemade sauce, and premium ingredients.
Wesos Bar & Restaurant’s diverse menu pleases palates that crave a mix of Italian and American recipes. Crispy chicken wings don sauces and seasonings such as a habanero-jerk blend, and chefs pan-fry crab cakes before topping them with housemade rémoulade. The kitchen’s denizens also crown housemade spaghetti with meatballs, and they whip up other Italian dishes such as chicken piccata sautéed in butter, lemon, and white wine. Tables large and small fill the dining room—perfect for romantic dates or suppertime games of solitaire. Diners can also compete in trivia nights on Thursdays and perform synchronized chewing routines to live music on Fridays and Saturdays.
Inside Nino’s Pizzeria, a staff of family members uses fresh ingredients to build out-of-the-box pizzas—the chicken parm pie fills a Neapolitan crust and the buffalo wing ignites palates with grilled chicken, blue cheese crumbles, and buffalo sauce. In addition to New York–style pies, the BYOB pizzeria serves Italian-inspired entrees such as chicken madeira with roasted peppers, mushrooms, and madeira wine sauce. The lengthy menu goes beyond Italian food, also listing cheesesteaks and burgers, including the deluxe Nino’s special with grilled tomatoes, jalapeños, and mushrooms.