Founded by a bodybuilding and fitness enthusiast, Muscle Maker Grill supplies nutritious high-protein dishes that serve as a healthy alternative to traditional fast food. Guests can commence with a bowl of steamed edamame ($3.75) or shake hands with the buffalo wing's well-behaved younger brother, the texas chicken nuggets, served with fat-free sour cream and celery ($4.75). Grilled chicken breast and turkey bacon team up in the MMG signature wrap, backed by romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and onions with reduced-fat cheddar cheese and a zero-carbohydrate signature sauce ($8.95). Pastafarians can peruse the selection of whole-wheat penne (regular penne available as well) in dishes such as the sesame-chicken teriyaki pasta ($9.25).
Every summer in the '50s and '60s, people from all over the region would flock to Point Pleasant, New Jersey, to relax on the beach, amble along the boardwalk, and devour one of the region's tastiest snacks. No, it wasn't the saltwater taffy that they came in droves for, but Mike's Subs' giant submarine sandwiches, which were still a relatively new invention. They also came for the mom-and-pop-shop experience—Mike prided himself on recognizing customers by name and shoe size and remembering which sandwich they each liked to order.
In the early '70s, high schooler Peter Cancro began working at Mike's Subs and fell in love with both the food and the customers. So when he overheard the owner talking about selling the business, Cancro decided that he would do whatever it took to buy the shop. He approached his football coach, a banker by day, and asked for a loan. The coach agreed and Cancro became the owner of Mike's at the age of 17.
Over the next decade he opened a few more local shops. In 1987, he changed the name to Jersey Mike's Subs and began franchising the popular restaurant so people wouldn't have to drive to the Jersey Shore to get the subs that they loved. Today, Jersey Mike's still serves submarine sandwiches Mike's Way—with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, oil, vinegar, and spices.
When he cofounded his first sandwich shop in 1965, 17-year-old Fred DeLuca planned to use his profits to pay his way through medical school. But the combination of quality ingredients and friendly service at the shop—then called Pete's Subway—proved so popular that nine years later, he and his partner found themselves in charge of 16 locations across Connecticut, and Fred left behind his doctoring plans for a career in business.
Today, Subway restaurants number over 34,000 around the world—almost as many shops as there are sightings of Elvis buying cold cuts. At each location, staffers pile sliced ham, marinara-slathered meatballs, and other fillings into halved loaves of bread before customizing handhelds with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and other healthy toppings plucked from chilled containers behind the counter. Salads free crisp veggies from bread's overprotective embrace, and crunchy baked chips or apple slices accompany entrees to tables. Subway's website also facilitates health-conscious eating by listing each item's nutrition information and fastest mile time online.
Combining their experiences, the Barreiro family has spent more than 80 years working in restaurants. They unite their years spent in the kitchen and among diners at Mediterranean Chateau, delighting guests with a menu of colorful and authentic Portuguese cuisine, overseen by chef Robertini Martinez. Cooked over the charcoal pit or sizzling on the rotisserie, center-cut pork chops and barbecue chicken are among a variety of tender, flavorful meat dishes and daily specials. Lobster is the star in the seafood paelha dishes—joined by scallops, mussels, clams, and shrimp—and makes appearances throughout the menu, for instance, pairing with filet mignon.
The founders of Primo Hoagies chose the name “Primo” because it means “first” in Italian, and they felt it represented their allegiance to high-quality ingredients and tasty hoagies. They did an exemplary job of corroborating this choice, and customers took notice; so much so, in fact, that in the years since opening their flagship Philadelphia location, they’ve been able to franchise more than 20 stores. At each one, sandwich makers stay in line with the company’s original mission, piling rolls and wraps high with slices of prosciutto, hot soppressata, fresh mozzarella, chicken cutlets, meatballs, and pepper ham. They also construct low-sodium and low-fat sandwiches, as well as vegetarian creations for anyone who wants to save the meat trees.
As kids, Rob Kash and Joe Mosco piled into the back seat to head to their nonna's—or their grandmother's—house for classic family-style Italian dinners every Sunday night. Drawing from some of her authentic recipes, they opened Nonnas Citi Cucina in memory to those dinners, from the ultra-fresh ingredients in every dish, to the importance of good food and great conversation. There, the kitchen turns out hearty plates of lobster macaroni and cheese, or family-style meals for four or more of rigatoni and chicken parmigiana. Served alongside a hefty wine list, the hospitable experience is made complete with reds and whites by the bottle or glass.