It's no wonder that Dave and Camille, the owners of Camille's Wood Fired Pizza, have adopted the mantra "food is love." Nearly a decade ago they met in a pizzeria without any idea that one day they would fall in love and open their very own restaurant. Today, their love for each other and for great food helps to warm the inviting atmosphere at Camille's, along with the kitchen's wood-fire oven, which heats up to more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The taste furnace renders crispy crusts on specialty pies, which chefs top with products from organic and sustainable farms whenever possible. Small plates such as artisanal salads and inventive ideas such as eggplant fries round out meals and bring an upscale touch to pizza night.
The penne, spaghetti, and linguine at Pastori's Restaurant & Bar may be the only pastas that are actually imported from Italy, but every bite of manicotti and alfredo tastes authentic. Yet the Italian specialities only claim a small portion of the menu. There are also burgers and grinders, wraps and pitas, and seafood dishes, such as sea scallops tuna steak. Plus, the bar promises cocktails, beer, and wine, as well as games broadcast on TVs and regular karaoke.
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The Stone and Paddle’s California-style thin-crust pizzas acquire their subtle crunch while baking atop a hot stone in a 600-degree oven. Gourmet toppings such as hot sausage, shrimp and artichoke, and spinach and gorgonzola grace the pies, which share table space with flatbread sandwiches that are also stone-baked. Though chefs must return nightly to the steel-encased bunker where they safeguard their secret dough recipe, guests can enjoy a new location in Rocky Hill, linger on the shaded patio at the Vernon location or watch sports on Manchester's flat-screen TVs.
At Pizzeria DaVinci, the signature house pizza—aptly named the Da Vinci—is a vegetarian one, piled with spinach, sun-dried tomato, and feta. However, there's plenty of meat options on the pizzeria's menu, too. There are 16 thin-crust pizzas to choose from, each baked on a hot stone and topped with delicacies from baked potato fixings to clams and bacon.
“Lasci il buon rullo di periodi,” reads the inscription over the bar at Pinocchio’s Ristorante. The phrase translates to “let the good times roll,” advice addressed to wait staff and patrons alike in the gently lit and richly colored dining room. Past the long, curving bar, rust-colored walls glow around golden sconces, and the smell of fresh tomatoes and sautéing vegetables fills the air. Drawing on generations-old family recipes and experience accrued during 25 years in the business, chefs at Pinocchio’s Ristorante craft a menu of pastas, risottos, and veal. In the kitchen, they slice paper-thin cuts of prosciutto, stir pots of truffle and cognac-reduction sauce, roast garlic, and whittle spaghetti down into angel hair. The din of pots and pans drifts behind the bar, where a cadre of mixologists whip up margaritas and martinis, ranging from the raspberry margarita to martinis made with van Gogh espresso vodka.
The culinary masterminds that brought Pinocchio’s Ristorante to Three Rivers have teamed up to bring another success, Gheppetto’s Grille, to Ware. Along with elegantly executed Italian fare, the restauranteurs wanted to add a touch of Americana to the menu, setting classics such as veal marsala next to wild-caught haddock wrapped in a crispy Ritz Cracker and panko breading. Fostering a festive environment ideal for an after-work cocktail or get-together with family and friends, the lounge entertains guests with a full bar lined with flat-screen TVs showing big, burly games. In the dining area, Gheppetto’s amicable staff seats guests at tables adorned with white tablecloths in a room of rustic browns and reds lit warmly under hanging lights. Supporting local artists, the eatery also enlivens its Thursday and Saturday evenings with live acoustic music.