After a debilitating car accident left Elyissia Wassung’s mother, Barbara, unable to commute to work, she stayed busy in the kitchen, devising her own homemade chocolates. Nine-year-old Elyissia would then load her mother’s sweets into a shopping cart and sell them door-to-door around the neighborhood, learning entrepreneurial skills that would last a lifetime. After leaving a telecom job as an adult, Elyissia returned to selling chocolates by founding 2 Chicks with Chocolate (the other chick being her mom), teaming up with master chocolatier Patrick Coston and lead chocolatier Stephanie Vazquez. The dessert innovators create diverse flavors, such as spiced pear and caramel ganache, s’mores, and hazelnut praline, from scratch with spices and sea salt. Customers can also create their own bars online without venturing into the store, building on a selection of chocolate bases and toppings that range from pistachios to gummy bears. The store also hosts chocolate classes and enlivens parties with chocolate fountains and chocolate tastings.
The pizza slingers at Papa John's toss each doughy discus by hand, and top their signature sauce with decadent mozzarella, fresh vegetables, and quality meats. Pie Picassos design two pies with up to two toppings each, and can commission a portrait of baby portobello mushrooms and spicy italian sausage posing against a backdrop of chewy crust or forge a blend of three cheeses smattered with crispy bacon. Tongues tiring of pizza's circular logic can take between-bite breaks with a side of breadsticks or parmesan-garlic breadsticks. A splashy two-liter beverage keeps taste buds on their toes. Order online to arrange a pickup or delivery, or visit a Papa John's location to dine right where the cheese sticks are harvested.
Within La Tavola's butter-hued walls, decorative partitions and flowing red curtains subdivide the dining room. Amid these stately accents, owners Jill and Steve Sullivan present an elegant menu of contemporary Italian fare. Chicken and seafood arrive pan-seared or roasted with basil pesto and lemon-caper butter, whereas gamey meats such as rabbit complement traditional spiral and straight pastas. Diners may also requisition the sconce-laden space for private parties of up to 150 guests or 300 acrobats willing to stand atop one another's shoulders.
When Baja Fresh opened its doors in 1990, freshness wasn’t on the menu at many fast-food restaurants. Disappointed with soggy burgers and floppy fries, the founders built a casual Mexican eatery around fresh, colorful produce and a commitment to healthy living. Cooks prepare meals by hand, using ingredients that hail from real-world farms rather than freeze-dried packages. Tacos and burritos brim with a choice of meats, including pork carnitas and charbroiled steak. Filled with shrimp tacos, tortilla soups, and grilled-chicken salads, a Healthy Choices menu guides diners toward meals that are low in fat, calories, carbs, and smog.
Blue Water Seafood Company’s expansive menu satisfies the deepest desires of seafaring appetites. Appetizers such as oysters on the half shell ($16/dozen) launch the stomach on a seafaring journey, continued by jumbo lump crab cakes ($17 lunch; $23 dinner) and fried clam strips ($15 lunch; $18 dinner). Blue Water's live Maine lobster ($26/lb., dinner only) is steamed and served with roasted potatoes and fresh vegetables upon order, bringing forth celestial flavors from the abyssopelagic depths. The maritime menu is bordered by an assortment of terra firma tasties including lemon chicken with artichoke hearts and crispy garlic ($14 lunch; $18 dinner) and New Zealand lamb chops ($35, dinner only).
Bakers at Peace of Cake craft their cupcakes with fresh ingredients for rich texture. They create a rotating menu of flavors, including raspberry swirl stuffed with jam and cookie dough filled with real cookie dough and crowned with chocolate frosting.
Since 1967, the Mandreucci Family has lured in diners with the scent of bubbly margherita pizzas, sopressata sandwiches on semolina bread, and chicken, sausage, and shrimp mingling with rich sauces on plates of pasta. Tan brick and colorful murals of wholesome Italian ingredients surround families and couples as they twirl linguini around their fork tines or munch on slices of vodka-penne pizza, a specialty pizza topped with vodka sauce and diced ham. During catered events, guests can avoid eye contact with an old lab partner by preoccupying themselves with fresh fruits, antipasti, penne pomodoro, lasagna, and veal.