For more than 25 years, the aroma of traditional Italian food and tapas wafted through the kitchen and dining rooms of chef Dominick Anfuso's Al Di La. These days, however, that kitchen is the dominion of chef Peter Ingrasselino. Drawing upon nearly a quarter century of experience, chef Peter Ingrasselino, who was previously general manager and executive chef of Masina Trattoria Italiana in Weehawken, maintains the former chef's legacy while adding his own twists to the Italian-centered menu. He fills the kitchen with activity, tossing porcini and wild mushrooms with pappardelle noodles, brushing aged steak with a balsamic glaze, and wrapping sea scallops in pancetta.
Meals unfold in a dining room, where high ceilings and exposed brick evoke the ambiance of a café in Venice. Visitors sip drinks, their chatter punctuating music from live bands.
For more than two decades, the mom-and-pop operation at Bella Pizza has fed passersby with handmade Italian pies, sub sandwiches, fresh salads, and saucy pastas. The smells of fresh stuffed and Sicilian-style pizzas waft through the cozy space, which evokes the homey, casual ambience of a neighborhood eatery. And Italian cheeses run a thread through the extensive menu of hearty Italian-American fare, from casseroles of baked chicken parmigiana to lunches of meatball heroes and golden-brown calzones.
Slinger's Sports Restaurant's head chef, Nick Tokarski, presides over an eclectic menu of casual and upscale fare, filling mouths in a convivial atmosphere illumined by 11 high-definition TVs. For appetizers, dining companions divvy up a dozen steamed littleneck clams simmered with roasted garlic, bacon, and white wine, or prime palates with the zesty Sichuan sauce coating Ray’s spicy shrimp. Built upon a homemade flatbread foundation, the Chef’s pie pizza pairs melty cheeses with tomato sauce, wild mushrooms, red onions, and fresh basil, fostering an ideal avenue for flaunting your outfit’s built-in bib. Dre's burger stacks 8 ounces of Black Angus with guacamole and chipotle mayo and tames tongues with a flavor lasso made of jalapeños and jack and cheddar cheeses. At the Mac Bar, noshers craft macaroni masterpieces from three cheesy styles and a cornucopia of varied toppings, from hard-boiled eggs to meatballs to blackened shrimp.
At Foschini's, more than 25 types of pizza come and go from the searing brick oven, most bearing heaps of specialty ingredients. That's not the case for the eatery's signature margarita pie. This simple pizza packs only a trio of ingredients, blending San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil leaves into one of Italy's most famous flavor combinations. Simple or complex, the pizzas are just one stop along the restaurant's tour of Italian cuisine. The menu also includes paninis, pastas, salads, and entrees that end with "parmigiana" (Italian for "permanent giants"). No matter what they order, diners often finish their meals the right way: with a cup of bracing coffee and a slice of tiramisu or cheesecake.
Vivo Ristorante serves up delectable, authentic Italian culled from fresh ingredients in an elegant dining environment. The dinner menu changes daily but is typically stocked with mouthwatering pasta permutations, such as the shrimp and brandy cream sauce covering each Cappellini San Marco ($16.95) and the prosciutto and plum tomatoes enhancing each fusilli filetti di pomodoro ($12.95). Savor parmesan's versatility in the vitello alla parmigiana ($16.95), a tasty lightly breaded veal, or celebrate the tongue's graduation from dehydrated astronaut chicken with the petto di pollo di Verona ($13.95), succulent poultry adorned with artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes. Be sure to take advantage of Vivo's Early Bird special, which provides diners courses of salad, chicken or pasta, coffee, and dessert ($15.95) at any of the restaurant's neat table displays.
Pleasant Road Spa is a haven of relaxation and rejuvenation. Within, a team of licensed aestheticians use renowned Dermaologica and Skinceuticals products to perform more than a dozen facial treatments, including specialized services for men and expectant mothers. Adventurous clients can dabble in advanced treatments such as glycolic peels or microdermabrasion, which intensively exfoliates the face to dissolve signs of aging or soreness from a staring contest with a raccoon. Nearby, massage therapists tend to sore muscles and joints with half a dozen therapeutic techniques, while nail techs execute soothing pedicures laced with green-tea and peppermint essential oils. Excessively hirsute guests can get un-hirsuted with an array of waxing services for the face and body.
Sicilian-style pizzas are the name of the game at Bella Vita Pizzeria & Restaurant. Available by the slice or pie, the eatery's specialty pizzas range from the traditional (margarita and meat lovers) to the inventive (Nutella dessert-style pies and New York Ranch on thin focaccia). Aside from pizza, there are still plenty of other menu options: pastas, seafood dishes, focaccia paninis, and calzones, to name only a few.