The sound of Laura Provenzano calling out "Mangia, mangia!" would send her children running to the table, their stomachs growling in anticipation of the hearty Italian feast ahead. Today, her great-grandchildren carry on the family tradition at Provenzano's Ristorante, where they whip up a menu of the family's classic Italian dishes infused with a few tasty American additions. Within the restaurant's warm, spacious dining room, glasses of Italian wine meet with plates of pasta and pizzas, along with American-style burgers with Italian flourishes, such as shaved prosciutto. Come Sunday, a lengthy brunch buffet stretches across the floor, simmering with platters of freshly made selections.
From its humble origins as a soda fountain in 1930s Saint Paul, Green Mill Restaurant and Bar has grown into a franchise with more than 28 locations all over Minnesota and the Midwest. As TV screens blast sports news in the background, patrons at each eatery dine on a menu of classic American and pizzeria fare. Thick, hand-pressed burgers form bunned towers with hefty toppings such as smoked bacon, haystack onions, and chipotle mayo. Families looking to bond can practice fractions on regular, deep-dish, or thin and crispy pizzas or group juggling acts with samplers of 27 juicy wings. In addition to pastas and salads, each location's bar carries a varied drink menu that includes draft beers such as Blue Moon and Samuel Adams alongside wine, martinis, and margaritas.
In 1962, Lawrence William Yanz opened Hastings Bierstube, where he dished out German delicacies such as bratwursts, Reubens, and 6-ounce sirloin steaks. After his passing in 1983, his sons, Jim and Mike, started two new locations before forming a fourth with a family friend. The sons expanded Hastings Bierstube’s already extensive menu, introducing the Taste of Deutschland sampler platter, which features a selection of wienerschnitzel, sauerbraten, and house-made spaetzle.
Along with slinging authentic cuisine, the owners send lucky diners on vacations to Germany during giveaways, which fall on special occasions such as Oktoberfest and David Hasslehoff’s half birthday. For visitors remaining on American shores, the restaurants host weekly events, including bingo, open mics, karaoke, and live music.
With views of the Mississippi River outside the humble, historic storefront, Red Rock Cafe mixes fresh ingredients into the three most important meals of the day—breakfast, lunch, and dessert. For breakfast, the taco omelet stuffs seasoned meat, pepper-jack cheese, and diced tomato in a soft, scrambled shell of three eggs ($8.49). The quintessential breakfast diplomats, two eggs, negotiate between fresh, gravy-smothered biscuits and neighboring italian sausage, onion, and mushrooms in the scrambled house special ($8.59 each). To kick off the lunch menu, the Rodeo burger bursts out of the pen as bacon, fried onion, and barbecue sauce ride a bucking third-pound patty ($7.59), and the Rachael substitutes turkey breast for the Reuben's corned beef and embraces a layer of sauerkraut and swiss cheese on rye bread ($8.49 each).
Hit-N-Run occupies vacant spots on both plates and stomachs with hearty pub classics. Cajole stubborn jaw muscles into masticating with starters such as wisconsin cheese curds ($6), or choose from among a mighty triumvirate of buffalo, Cajun garlic, or barbecue sauces to accompany homemade, hand-breaded buffalo fingers ($7). The Hit-N-Run club stockpiles thick-sliced turkey, roast beef, grilled onion, and cheddar cheese, all blanketed with homemade sandwich sauce ($8).
True to the eatery's name, nearly every entree at Wyatt's Twisted Americana comes in two versions: normal and twisted. To up the flavor ante on chocolate-raspberry french toast, for instance, cooks also offer deep-fried stacks. Culinary paths diverge further during lunch and dinner, which features everything from garlic-chicken flatbread with optional hickory bacon to deep-fried, sausage-wrapped hardboiled eggs with optional chipotle hollandaise. One item, however, is left as it is: the bestselling Jack Daniels-glazed burger, which arrives topped with onion chips, cheddar cheese, and smoky chipotle ketchup.
To complement feasts, bartenders keep craft beer on tap and whip up employee-inspired cocktails like the Todd, a blend of strawberry whiskey, lemonade, and cherry juice. The bar's twist? A handful of non-alcoholic cocktails, too, including virgin strawberry margaritas and vodka frozen back into potatoes.