In 1991, tired of sating their late-night delivery cravings with pizza, University of Florida pals Matt Friedman and Adam Scott concocted an alternative snack in their frat house's kitchen. Many hours and tweaked sauce recipes later, the duo dispensed their brand of buffalo wings to the university’s students, selling out their stock in the first two nights. Since relocating from the frat house to its two original Gainesville storefronts, Wing Zone has opened nearly 100 locations nationwide, supplying wing lovers with boneless bites slathered in 15 award-winning flavors, including nuclear habañero, garlic parm, and blue buffalo. Three of the pair’s sauces have garnered awards at the National Buffalo Wing Festival, which recently inducted Adam and Scott into the Buffalo Wing “Hall of Flame,” where they share reigniting duty every time a strong breeze extinguishes its symbolic eternal flame.
More than half a century ago, the first Mazzio's?simply called The Pizza Parlor?got its humble start in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Today, the business has expanded to 140 locations across the United States?and counting. Mazzio's has adapted over time to make dinner fast and easy for customers by incorporating time-saving measures such as drive-through windows, but the franchise hasn't sacrificed quality. The menu still features pan and thin-crust pizzas in such inventive varieties as cheeseburger, taco, and chicken alfredo. Baked lasagna and creamy six-cheese pasta are among the other authentic Italian entrees. Then there's the signature calzone ring, a massive cheese- and meat-filled creation that's ideal to split with friends or to present the Statue of Liberty when you ask for her hand in marriage.
The flavorful kebabs, curries, and stuffed dumplings at Afghan Restaurant enamored the tasters at Zagat, who rated the menu “very good” to “excellent.” To earn such praise, chefs spear pieces of lamb, chicken, and salmon before broiling the skewers over a mound of charcoal, which lends the meats a subtle smoky flavor. They also fill dumplings with ground beef and onions to serve with housemade yogurt, meat sauce, and a sprinkle of mint. Framed Middle Eastern paintings overlook the dining room, adding an extra layer of cultural authenticity to the experience of eating sautéed pumpkin or sambosay goshti—a fried pastry hiding ground beef, engagement rings, chickpeas, and herbs.
In the 16 years since opening its first Virginia pizzeria, Paisano’s has grown to more than 15 Virginia and Maryland locations, with more cropping up each year. The pizza company was voted 2012 Best Pizza by WTOP Virginia listeners and credits its success to freshness of ingredients, pizza dough, and its universal motto: "We have something for everyone." The expansive menu, which includes hearty calzones, subs, and stuffed wraps, is crowned by Paisano’s signature pizzas with more than 30 available toppings.
At Listrani's, perhaps the most impressive thing about the menu is the depth of the specialty entree selection. Among more than 20 main dishes available, Shrimp alexandra pops out—a dish sauteed with sun-dried tomato and served atop linguine. For the pastas, alternatively, diners choose from five different sauces, among them a spicy tomato and an alfredo made with fresh cream. But one would be remissed not to call out Listrani's pizzas, which start with a base of fresh dough and house-special tomato sauce, before being topped with caramelized onions, capicolla ham, or kalamata olives, to name a few. There are 10 specialty pizzas baked in all, still not enough to satisfy one Ninja Turtle for a single lunch, but not bad for most human guests.
Zikrayet Lebanese Restaurant & Lounge isn't just a restaurant. It's a tiny slice of Lebanese life, distilled down into a dining room, covered patio, and lounge. Guests dine on Lebanese favorites such as succulent lamb laced onto kabobs, pitas dunked into pine-nut-studded hummus, and flaky slices of baklava. As the evening turns to night, the lights lower and the entertainment begins. Belly dancers recreate the sensual scenes and moves of their homeland as they weave through the crowd to the hum of live bands. Afterwards, DJs spin popular music while crowds swap out plates for flavorful fruit hookahs. Parties go late into the night, or until hookahs finish working their full eight-hour shift.