Cooks at The Pizza Box hand toss fresh dough into a base for each of their 70 different pie variations, and it's that kind of dedication to diverse dough disks that earned them silver in the HamptonRoads.com's 2012 Best of Hampton Roads. The topping combinations range from internationally inspired blends such as the France—with potato, rosemary, and goat cheese—to the Morocco, which has figs, falafel, chicken, and cucumber. They also make domestic-inspired pies like the California, a blend of squash, sundried tomato, and mozzarella the exact shade of white as the snow atop the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
While growing up in Palermo, Italy, Nunzio was surrounded by impassioned Italian cooking: his grandfather was a chef at the Grand Hotel of Palermo, his mother was a skilled cook from the Italian countryside, and his brother grew up to open a restaurant of his own. Following in his clan's footsteps, Nunzio began his kitchen career by learning the art of pastry construction at age 17, though he quickly expanded his expertise to compiling main courses. After packing bags and moving to the United States, the chef has remained as glued to Italian tastes as a pepperoni on melted cheese, and he now shares the family tradition with his son Adam at Mamma Mia Pizzeria.
Inside the kitchen, thin-crust pizzas bake to a bubbly finish while cradling toppings such as fresh tomatoes, basil, spinach, feta, salami, sausage, and drizzles of olive oil. Fresh pasta, zesty sauce, and melted cheeses combine to form house-made lasagna, a house specialty, and golden breadcrumbs hug the tender eggplant parmigiana to add a delicate crunch, similar to the crunch caused by adding bones to barbecue rib meat. The father and son duo shares its culture with customers by encouraging Italian-speakers to practice their conversational skills, and Nunzio often delivers pizzas to large parties himself, charming the customers with an Italian serenade in his strong, tenor voice before departing
Although it now has more than 430 locations in 28 countries, Hooters wasn’t always welcomed by the public. In fact, when it opened in October 1983 in Clearwater, Florida, the founders of the restaurant were “quickly detained for impersonating restaurateurs,” according to the company's website. But the restaurant was able to prove it was more than just a pretty face—that it was serious about serving tasty American food and frosty brews—and its popularity exploded in the decades to follow.
Amid its beach-themed vibe and flat-screen TVs, Hooters still fuels appetites with original chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches, and fresh salads. Of course, nobody carries those casual eats and icy pitchers better than the Hooters girls. To complement their friendly smiles, their uniforms harken back to the ones the original waitresses wore in 1983: orange hot shorts and white tank tops with the emblematic owl on the front—though that owl has lost its Lionel Richie perm.
3Way Cafe's chefs put intriguing spins on traditional lunch fare in an open kitchen to fill the shop's menu of soups, salads, and sandwiches. Herbs infuse roasting pork, which fills the Figgy Piggy ($7.49) sandwich and unites a crowd of baby spinach, gouda, roasted tomatoes, and pesto aioli cloaked in a tangy fig glaze like a sunbathing chef. Slices of bread smuggle fistfuls of produce mouthward in the Veg Out ($6.99), and the Pilgrim Age sandwich ($7.49) combines the roast turkey and cranberry notes of a Thanksgiving feast without the risk of visiting uncles building a nest in the crawlspace. Cooks pair all sandwiches with parmesan and black-peppercorn chips, which fuel happy chatter as soft music drifts across the dining room and onto the outdoor patio.
The aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans lures passersby into Bean There Coffeehouse's two locations, where baristas reenergize sluggish bodies with a menu cascading with traditional brews and seasonal espresso beverages. The coffee shops' thoroughly vetted beans are plucked from the top 20% rated throughout the world, with special attention paid to the country of origin, the altitude, and the astrological sign of each bean. Serving up flavorful coffee is their top priority, and the staff also cultivates a homey, neighborhood feel at each establishment, welcoming guests to events such as coffee tastings, dessert pairings, and poetry slams.
Edible Arrangements offers up more than 50 fresh, artful fruit baskets that combine the aesthetic elements and emotive properties of floral arrangements with the juicy edibility of fruit. The sweetery's designers stud the Delicious Daisy, a bouquet of sliced honeydew, pineapple, and cantaloupe, with strawberries and strings of grapes ($35) that double as a 25th-anniversary gift for a Smucker's jam heiress. Decadent, gluten-free layers of white and semisweet chocolate coat fruit in a 12-piece box of hand-dipped strawberries and bananas ($25). Customers can also put today's Groupon toward a larger centerpiece, such as the Melon Delight, a decorative spray of watermelon wedges, pineapple daisies, cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes, and double-dipped bananas sprouting from a watering can ($76). The preservative-free treats are all handcrafted at the apex of freshness, readying hand-dipped dainties to be hand-shoved into eagerly awaiting mouths.