An unassuming brick storefront with bamboo-shaded windows barely contains the thrum of voices and simmering broth that roils within Tokyo Pot. Shabu shabu is by necessity an active method of dining and The Oklahoman’s Food Dude Dave Cathey says “It’s impossible to sit through a meal at Tokyo Pot in silence.” This vibrancy arises from the broth-filled pots that sit in the middle of each table and remind diners of the genuinely social nature of cooking and sharing fare as they dunk thin slices of meat into the hot liquid. Gentle pendant lighting brings to life the colors of bright cut blossoms and illuminates jets of rising steam that resemble famous clouds.
With a passion for their authentically inspired sauces, the cooks at Roma's Italian Restaurant top virtually all of their entrees with zesty marinara, decadent alfredo, or wine-based lemon sauce. They use vegetables bought directly from farmers’ markets to adorn house-made baked pastas or savory meats sautéed in pure olive oil. When they aren’t using the ovens to bake New York–style pizzas or to cathartically incinerate grueling crossword puzzles, they fire them up to bring meat-filled calzones and house-made rolls to golden-brown fruition.
The husband-and-wife team behind Swick's Pizza toss up a menu of hearty Italian-style eats in a family-friendly atmosphere. The pair of pie maestros harmonize herbs and spices to create the secret family sauce, which they ladle over crispy thin or chewy hand-tossed crusts bubbling with cheese, veggies, and seven types of meat, including canadian bacon, italian sausage, and meatball sculptures shaped like pork chops. Swick's specialty pies spotlight slices of chicken relaxing under a mantle of creamy alfredo sauce or dancing with strips of bacon against a tangy barbecue backdrop. Hands reach for hot-garlic chicken wings to practice tiny swings before hitting the little links or pick apart plates of Cheesestyx in preparation for a dairy-fueled victory lap.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine’s 2012 list of Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. The shop’s reputation grew, and so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&M’s, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real showstoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.