At Fortesa, diners entwine forks with specialty pastas and Italian staples on an outdoor patio that overlooks downtown Rochester and Paint Creek or inside a dining room lit with elevated candelabras. After perusing the menu, friends and families can acclimate taste buds to the flavors of Italy with a house side salad and the shrimp fortesa with garlic-and-lemon sauce. Diners then sink their fangs into the potato-parmesan gnocchi with truffle oil or don flippers to justify the freshness of the lobster-, shrimp-, and crabmeat-laden seafood fettuccine. Carve up a filet mignon in a truffle demu-glace or slice through the deep-maroon center of perfectly cooked lamb chops ai ferri in a port wine reduction.
The cooks at Dan Good Pizza understand that everybody has their own favorite style of pizza, so they load their menu with seemingly limitless options. They start with a base of five crust varieties: thin and crispy flatbread, hand tossed traditional, round or square pan pizzas, Chicago-style deep dish, or gluten-free. They then decorate the dough canvas with sauces and any combination of their 34 toppings. Tried-and-true creations come in the form of specialty pies, including the Mediterranean, which is topped with spinach, red onion, marinated tomatoes and feta cheese. To complement their pizzas, they offer cheddar and bacon bread sticks with a garlic and herb cream cheese spread and jumbo bone in butter-parmesan and jamaican-jerk wings, which come by the piece for convenient sampling.
Jet’s Pizza—ranked among the best-selling pizza franchises in 2010 by PMQ Pizza Magazine—has exploded with more than 200 locations since brothers Eugene and John Jetts opened their first shop in 1978. The menu teems with customizable pies ($9.89 for large), each built on traditional hand-tossed crust, thin crust, or deep-dish crust, available in eight flavors such as poppy seed, Cajun, and garlic. Chefs fling dough disks into as the air while Olympic shooters blast the flying, red-sauced rectangles with one of 18 available toppings ($1.49 each on large pizza). Various 8-inch subs also pay visits to hungry mouths, toting bready luggage stuffed with a range of warm meats and cheeses ($5.99). Before digging into a main dish, share an order of bubbly, triple-cheese Turbo Stix, which come topped with mozzarella, cheddar, romano, garlic, and butter ($5.99 for 12 pieces) and are served with pizza sauce perfect for dipping or drawing designs on crisp dress shirts.
Zaa! Simply Unique Pizza's oven technicians build their menu of eclectic pizzas on a foundation of thin, fresh crusts. After artisan pies are smothered with cheese sliced daily and a bounty of toppings, staff swiftly deliver steaming pizzas—such as the spinach-and garlic-coated Popeye Zaa ($9 for medium, $14 for large)—to tables. The Woodward Ave Zaa ($9 for medium, $14 for large) piles charred pepperoni, meatballs, and jalapeños upon its base like a general mounting tiny weapons on his cap. Each customizable Neapolitan creation can be strewn with salami or ornamented with artichoke hearts ($1 on medium, $2 on large). An array of Zaandwiches ($7.25) fit delectable barbecue chicken or veggies inside eminently portable bread casings.
Tracing its lineage back to 1939, Lelli’s remains in the hands of its original founders, the Lelli family, and continues its culinary tradition of rich, Northern Italian steak-house fare. Skilled chefs and servers prepare and present à la carte dishes such as juicy filet mignon, fresh seafood, and house-made egg pastas draped with rich tomato and cream-based sauces, or bookend European-style six-course meals with antipasto and palate-cleansing spumoni. The dimly lit dining room plays host to private events, corporate dinners, and family meals, and frames feasts with light that glints from candles and crystal chandeliers, reflecting off of cherry-wood furnishings and roosting in the folds of alabaster tablecloths.
Valentino’s satisfies pasta pangs with an extensive menu of authentic, homemade Northern Italian dishes. Guests can slide into the dining experience with the spedieni, a layered concoction of bread, mozzarella, and egg paired with lemon, olives and a butter sauce ($6.95) or dive right in with Salmon Antonio’s ensemble of grilled artichoke hearts, garlic, and capers in a succulent lemon white-wine sauce ($18.95). Homemade meat-and-cheese lasagna ($14.95) invites traditional gorging, whereas the linguine alla vongole, an aquatic pasta dish of fresh littleneck clams in a white or red clam sauce ($15.95), sates seafarers. Elegant white tablecloths and chandeliers set the stage for noodle tug-of-wars to decide who gets the last meatball, and sweets such as a cannoli or tartoufo—a dollop of vanilla ice cream surrounded by frozen chocolate mousse—cap off meals.