Hot wings, New York-style pizza, and Philly steak sandwiches may be the signature foods of the east coast, but it's hard to imagine any restaurant treating them with more reverence than west-coast franchise Alondra Hot Wings. The eponymous wings are the house specialty, hot and slathered in one of 18 sauces. Ranked on a scale from mild to atomic?which requires a waiver to order?the sauces also include flavors such as lemon pepper, spicy barbecue, maple syrup, and thai chili.
Alondra's other major influence is written all over the menu?and the walls. Mug shots of famous mafiosi hang throughout the dining room, and the owners are so fascinated by the subject that their website even offers tutorials in mob history. Also from that old Italian-American milieu: pizzas built on from-scratch dough, bearing names such as The Godfather?a hearty amalgam of four meats?and the Little Italy, which flecks chicken breast with basil. Draft beer and wine help mouths cool down after biting into a hot wing or almost insulting the ghost of Al Capone.
Though Michael’s on Naples serves authentic Italian dishes, the team doesn’t rely on imported ingredients. Instead, they makes their own pastas, sausage, and mozzarella each day, and pick herbs and seasonal veggies from the rooftop garden. This home-grown approach is a no-brainer considering the owner's background: before entering the restaurant business, Michael Dene used to bottle his own sauces to give as gifts to his New York neighbors. Inside the kitchen, chef David Coleman brings the menu to life using local and organic components whenever possible. As such, many dishes change with the season, but offerings typically include delicacies such as whole-grilled Mediterranean sea bass with artichokes, and oxtail-stuffed pasta with brown butter and breadcrumbs. Conversely, the wine list focuses primarily on Italian varietals. Should the 16-page collection prove dizzying, undecided patrons can find a perfect wine by completing a brief magazine quiz or by asking General Manager––and wine expert––Massimo Aronne for a recommendation.
At the bright and cozy Canadian Pizza & Grill, many of the pizzas are served in twos. Working in accordance with their regular ?2-for-1? deal, cooks bake up pairs of pies fresh, tossing twin 10-inch, 12-inch, or 14-inch circles of dough with imaginative specialty toppings like chorizo, ham and pineapple, or Canadian bacon. They outfit both pizzas in sturdy cardboard boxes and matching "It's a Boy!" bonnets, peddling them to customers for the price of one. When they're not whipping up pizza duos, the kitchen staff turns their attention to other pizzeria classics, including crunchy foot-long subs, plump wings, and grilled philly steak sandwiches. They also prepare a variety of two-person pasta dinners that include meat lasagna, chicken parmigiana, and fettuccine alfredo.
It begins with dough, spun at its center into a flat round disk. Next comes the marinara––sweet red sauce ladled evenly across the pie’s surface and topped with handfuls of shredded mozzarella. Finally, the best part: Bella's more than 20 toppings, which range from artichokes and peppers to pine nuts and crispy bacon. Outside of artisan pizzas, the kitchen prepares hand-tossed salads, sandwiches, and hot wings in barbecue and buffalo flavors, which can be complemented with wine, beer, and gelato. Diners may also request Bella's catering services to feed a party or spice up a dull doctor's appointment.
Staffers at Pizza X Two have been slinging pies behind their neon-lit storefront since 1987. Already bubbling with 100% mozzarella cheese, their pizzas can don an array of extra toppings from bacon bits to green peppers. Salads and hot or cold subs also appear before diners seated on chrome barstools. In addition to their culinary prowess, the staff members are proudly bilingual, singing both Spanish and English lullabies to their pizzas as they cook.
Pizza shapers at the family-owned Pappadoz eatery ornament freshly baked crust canvases with signature house-made tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and a slew of gourmet ingredients. Specialty pies showcase barbecue-chicken breast or a medley of vegetarian toppings, and large calzones envelop mozzarella cheese and gourmet fixings like a warm parka zipped around a chilly parakeet. Freshly sliced 10-inch subs and pastas provide flavorful sustenance for pizza renouncers, and smoothies eschew added sugars in favor of natural fruits. Customers can perch upon stools within the cozy shop, connecting to complimentary WiFi and using a charging dock to keep their cell phones, laptops, and electronic tie racks working briskly.