During years spent refining his culinary skills?including a stint in the kitchen of Berlin's Grand Hotel and tutelage under Italian chefs from Brindisi?chef Lyle Koch absorbed the essential commandments of fine cooking. Keep it simple. Keep it fresh. Don't use bases. Make your own sauces. Don't let the lobster trick you into switching places.
Lyle brought those teachings together when he was finally ready to open his own eatery, Antonella's Ristorante. Antonella's chefs make everything from scratch?including sauces and pizza dough?and have seafood and produce flown in fresh throughout the week. Their attention to detail shines through in the final plates, which range from pizzas topped with barbecued chicken and smoked gouda to classic veal parmesan with savory tomato sauce. A generous wine list complement the meals with a variety of grape distillates.
To Lyle, an atmosphere of warm hospitality is just as important to Italian cooking as the cuisine itself. That hospitality has been part of Antonella's since the fateful day it opened (September 11, 2001). As the events of that tragic day unfolded, Lyle decided to make the evening's food and wine free of charge and welcomed his diners into a TV-free refuge where they could eat, talk, and grieve together.
Tony Brierly has always loved pizza. As a child, hearing the words "pizza night" made him quake with excitement. Fast forward, and Tony is the brains behind Pizza California, a relaxed family eatery designed with comfort and fresh, local flavors in mind. Diners can choose from 16 pizza creations such as the Earthquake, with pepperoni, smoked ham, and salami, or the the thin-crust margherita, with mozzarella, shaved garlic, fresh basil, and tomatoes. There's also a create-your-own option, as well as draft and bottled beer.
The scene is a quintessential family pizza joint?rows of wooden tables line the floors, stained-glass hanging lights fixtures illuminate checkered floors, and a pinball machine beeps and clicks faintly from the arcade room. The Italian-inspired menu delivers classics such as thin-crust pizzas, hearty pasta dishes, and warm parmigiana subs. It's a place where friends gather over pies and pints of cold draft beer, children celebrate birthdays with pizza-making activities, and professional rugby players meet over plans to start up a knitting club.
Honey-glazed pork ribs and specialty and gourmet pizzas headline Checkers Pizza & Ribs's lengthy menu of casual comfort fare. Chefs sling fresh disks of dough by hand before slathering each pie with sauce that, like NASA's formula for rocket fuel, is forged from an exclusive family recipe. In addition to pizza, chefs enlist hickory smoke to imbue flavor into pork ribs coated with honey-barbecue sauce, and they round out meals with pastas and sandwiches.
The cooks at 4th St. Pizza Co. crown their specialty pies with more than 25 different fresh toppings such as smoked bacon, Roma tomatoes, and whole milk mozzarella cheese. The salad bar also features an array of choices, stocked with 34 fresh ingredients to build into sides or entrees.
The chefs at Jake’s specialize in whipping up circular comestibles, dishing out pizzas with more than 20 toppings in addition to scrumptious specialty pies and a sizeable selection of burgers, sandwiches, and wings. Cozy up in a booth with a signature pizza ($15.25 for a small), such as the barbecue chicken, which plunders the garden for ripe pineapple and onion before wedding them to juicy marinated chicken breast on an altar of smoked provolone. The create-your-own-pizza menu rounds up the usual suspects including pepperoni, mushrooms, and anchovies and puts them in a lineup alongside their more exotic counterparts such as louisiana hot sausage, artichoke hearts, and chives ($12.05+ for a small). Burgers ($5.65), quesadillas ($4.50), and a chicken philly with fries ($8) clamor for diners' attention, and a bucket of wings ($12.75) provides a perfect opportunity to prove your kindergarten teacher wrong about your ability to share.