In 1993, the basement of a Minneapolis apartment building was transformed into an Italian restaurant, becoming the first Buca di Beppo. The owners soon found themselves riding a wave of popularity and marinara sauce as they opened new restaurants across the nation. Today, the eatery occupies 97 locations nationwide, from San Francisco to Times Square.
At each location, chefs maintain the northern and southern Italian flavors that made the original so popular, with a few American twists. Then they serve it up in massive, family-style portions, making Buca di Beppo a favorite place for hungry families and groups of friends.
For starters, the chefs bake up batches of Cheesy Bread Florentine, a colorful combo of spinach, roma tomatoes, and garlic sprinkled over Italian bread and sealed in place with fresh, melted cheeses. Entr?es are prepared with an eye toward quality and quantity, both of size and selection, complete with Veal Parmigiana, Baked Ziti, and classic Italian-American staples like Ravioli and Lasagna. And in keeping with the convivial atmosphere, they also serve truly decadent desserts. The Mt. Vesuvius Dark Chocolate Cake erupts with melted chocolate, and the Colossal Brownie Sundae towers above other sweets with six scoops of ice cream and tiers of sundae trimmings.
Though it increases the likelihood of crossing paths with a runaway mascot, a visit to Lucca Ristorante is well worth it. Here, within shouting distance of several colleges and universities, diners dig into the seasonal menus' contemporary Northern Italian cuisine. They savor mushrooms, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes with every bite of fettuccine, and sift through spicy tomato-basil cream sauce for hunks of crab and tiger shrimp in the frutti di mare con penne. At the bar, servers dish out martinis, bourbon, single-malt scotches, and draft beers.
Instead of stuffy and staid, Lucca's atmosphere is a mix of homey and artsy. It boasts exposed brick, seafoam-green and ocean-blue walls, bold Italian art prints, and bright purple goblets that make patrons feel royal and more likely than usual to try to knight a fellow diner with a steak knife.
Immerse yourself in old town Italian charm at Mia Madre Trattoria. Guests will find family recipes served in a fine restaurant setting. Come to the restaurant that was ranked number four out of over 1800 area restaurants on TripAdvisor. The southern Italian favorites are all here: bruschetta, baked ziti, pasta alfredo, chicken picatta, pizza and cannoli desserts. They have a complete wine list with a selection of both red and white wines by the glass or bottle. Reservations are accepted by phone call for dinner hours Tuesday through Saturday. A takeout food menu is available as well. This establishment is available for private parties on Sundays and Mondays for which both lunch and dinner foods are available. Savor the rich flavors of Italian cuisine at Mia Madres Trattoria.
Gianna Via's Restaurant & Bar?s stone oven cooks thin-crust pizzas to a crisp finish. It melts a blanket of cheese over a customizable blend of ingredients, including spinach, grilled chicken, and pepperoni. And with a name like Gianna Via?s, it?s no surprise that Italy?s cuisine looms large over the entire menu. Chefs bake chicken parmesan and toss toasted pine nuts and a garlic-herb sauce over penne noodles. House specialties include banana peppers stuffed with hot sausage and topped with marinara and cheese. The chefs also liven up diners' mornings by building breakfast sandwiches with pretzel buns and filling french toast with lemon-mascarpone cheese.
After running five Italian restaurants across the course of his career, chef David Ayn was well equipped to assemble the menu at Davio, where simple and soulful southern Italian dishes reign supreme. Inspired by the intense heat and flavors of the southern Italian Peninsula, Ayn introduces veal chops and steaks to the coal grill, peppered with caramelized onions and imported olive oil. While seated at the common area of "Davio's Table," families share heaping platters of antipasto, family-style plates of seasonally rotating seafood, and a single sweater knitted for six people.
Pazzo Ristorante's dedicated chefs and servers dish out a menu's worth of home-style Italian cuisine. An appetizer of marinara-battered zucchini planks ($7.99) pleases taste buds with its architectural soundness, and delicately sauced steamed mussels ($11.99) promote after-dinner partying by doubling as castanets. Dinnertime promises a choice selection of nautical eats, such as the seafood gnocchi caprese ($18.99), a multi-textured medley of potato gnocchi, tomatoes, mozzarella, and seasoned breadcrumbs. Mouthwatering pasta dishes unite noodle and sauce in edible masterpieces, such as the tasty Cajun chicken bruschetta ($15.99) tossed with tomatoes, garlic, and basil over angel hair pasta or the perennial favorite of James Bond, bow ties à la vodka ($14.99), a mélange of prosciutto, onion, and fresh basil in a vodka-cream sauce.