Natural light pours in through the arched windows of Cara Mia Riverside Grill and reveals sweeping views of the Indian River as diners dig into linguine and calamari. In the kitchen, head chef Elizabeth Hanstein prepares house-made sauces from traditional Italian recipes and incorporates Mediterranean influences into dishes such as the chicken piccata, which finishes a mushroom-and-scallion chicken sautéed with a sherry wine sauce.
The cuisine crafters at Papa Vito's Italian Restaurant tirelessly hand-toss pizzas and dish out a menu of traditional Italian fare until 1:30 a.m. every day. Herbivores nosh on garden goods with a Gourmet Vegetarian pizza ($18.50 for 16"), dappled with fresh veggies and white sauce, while meat-seeking mouths and experimenting stegosaurs feast on the Old School Stuffed pizza ($19.95 for 16") filled with mozzarella, mushrooms, beef, and pepperoni. An order of Papa Vito's wings ($6.99 for 12) prompts duets, quartets, or sextuplets to slather tongues in spicy, barbecue, or garlic sauce, accompanied by a wading pool of ranch or blue-cheese dressing. While noshing and practicing for upcoming fractions quizzes glaze gullets with a glass of house wine ($3.75), draft or bottled beer ($3), or an imported beer ($3.50).
Voted best pizza in town by the Orlando Sentinel for seven years in a row, Pizzeria Valdiano unleashes a welcome avalanche of dough, cheese, tomato paste, and freestyle-snowboarding cherry peppers upon the burgundy-boothed slopes of the restaurant’s interior. The pie-centric menu democratically offers a motorcade of non-pie starters such as fried mozzarella ($4.95) and garlic-bread parmigiana ($3.75) to take down those who lack the drive to take a piece of the cheesy disc. Try an artichoke-hearty pizza Fiorentina ($9.50 for 10", $16.95 for 16"), a peppery pizza piccante ($9.50/$16.95), or a pizza stella ($10.95/$17.95) with melted mozzarella, eggplant, and feta cheese.
Warmth defines the Mediterranean, and vivid color is a salient characteristic of many of the region's cuisines. So it's fitting that bold gold and rich red permeate the interior at Nar Mediterranean Grill—you'd be hard-pressed to find a single boring off-white surface. Beyond aesthetic nods to their geographical source material, the restaurant's chefs employ the recipes and cooking styles of traditional kebab shops to create innovative cuisine inspired by Mediterranean street fare. They serve pita sandwiches stuffed with boneless chicken breast or beef kofte before admitting to guests that they also have desserts such as baklava, Turkish rice pudding, or kadayif—an Arab cheese pastry dripping with more sweet syrup than the kindest maple tree. The restaurant also puts a Mediterranean spin on American fare by crowning pizzas with falafel and filling Philly cheese steak sandwiches with steak doner meat.