Bensi co-owner Genci Previzi helms an immense menu of classic Italian cuisine, including hearty homestyle dishes with roots in Calabria, Italy. Entrees, joined by a house salad or cup of comforting housemade soup, range from spaghetti and meatballs to gluten-free grilled chicken in a lemon-garlic marinade served over a veggie medley. The chefs also prepare an array of specials such as pignoli-crusted goat cheese and arugula salad, barolo-braised veal osso buco, pan-seared Chilean sea bass with eggplant caponata, and nutella chocolate pizza with fresh strawberries. The dishes are served in a modern dining atmosphere where minimal table settings and simple dark-wood furniture keep the focus on the vibrant cuisine.
With its amber and red tones, bronze waterfall, and pebble stone accents, Arisu Japanese Cuisine immerses diners in an elegant, easygoing atmosphere. The restaurant's tranquil vibe reflects the meaning behind its name, "Great River," as well as the contemporary Japanese cuisine that it plates up daily. Upon sinking into Arisu's oversized banquet chairs, diners may fill up on an extensive menu that includes Japanese standards, such as sushi and sashimi, along with Korean barbecue ribs marinated in a sweet soy sauce and lobster teriyaki served with assorted veggies.
Brooklyn-style pizzas, traditional pastas, and seafood specialties sate ravenous appetites at Carlo's, where a gluten-free menu supplements the regular bill of fare. The pizza selection ranges from the Godfather pie—with seven types of cheeses and a deli counter's worth of meats such as prosciutto, capicola, and ham ($16–$24)—to the baked ziti pizza, a match made in Italy that heaps tenderly boiled ziti pasta and mozzarella onto a doughy platter ($14–$20). Carlo's 14-inch gluten-free pizza varietal comes laden with the muncher's choice of toppings and edible crypotgrams ($19+). Under the benevolent gaze of wall sconces, shrimp scampi ($9.95–$17.95) and mussels marinara ($8.95–$14.95) decorate tables with seafood, and the menu's pasta section fills plates with favorites such as the house's trademark vodka sauce with sun-dried tomatoes, draped over one of seven pastas including spaghetti, angel hair, and rigatoni ($6.95 for lunch; $11.95 for dinner).
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 it comes to Italian food, the culinary team at Cafe 34 Bistro draws equally from tradition and its own creativity. From seasoning housemade gnocchi with ground beef to tossing fettuccine with bacon-wrapped scallions and creamy wild-mushroom sauce, the cooks prove they have classic Italian flavors mastered. On the flip side, they lend fried calamari an extra zest by tossing the rings in mandarin-orange sauce. Cafe 34's culinary wizards likewise expand the flavorful potential of the burger by crowning beef patties with Cajun seasoning and mango-crabmeat salsa.
An extensive selection of wine by the glass and bottle, as well as cocktails, such as chocolate martinis, complements Cafe 34's edibles. Meals, in turn, complement the cafe's entertainment lineup, which bounces between flat-screen TVs showing the night's biggest games and live music performed three nights a week.