In 19 years, the East of Chicago Pizza franchise has scattered its doughy delicacies to 90-some locations that stretch from the Midwest to Myrtle Beach. More than authentic, deep-dish, Chicago--style pizza stirs in its kitchens. The hearty Windy City pie homes in on hunger with a sauce-on-top construction and a knife-and-fork imperative. Still, appetites find their way to the loaded subs, boneless wings, and other savory fare on the menu. Fresh salads topped with grilled chicken or sprinkled with cheese balance the indulgence of parmesan poppers, cheezystix, and fold-over pizza sandwiches, leaving patrons more charged up than a robot after its first kiss with a power outlet.
The name Barry Bagels conceals the diversity of its menu. In addition to 16 bagel varieties, the staff churn out homemade soups, sandwiches, desserts, and coffee. The flagship Barry Bagels shop opened in Toledo in 1972?the company celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012?and now shares its oven-mastery with three other Toledo-area locations as well as one in Ann Arbor, MI.
At Dégagé Express, Head Chef Joseph Jacobsen uses techniques learned beside Jacques Pépin and Bobby Flay to transform locally sourced meats and produce—most cultivated within 30 miles of the restaurant—into elegant sandwiches and desserts. These ingredients fill the menu, composing seasonal dishes such as the Missy's Fix sandwich, made with housemade corned beef, apple slaw, thousand-island dressing, and local sauerkraut. Sous Chef Skyler Stanton, meanwhile, cooks soups such as the Train Wreck Chili. A testament to the culinary staff's creativity, croutons flavored with bacon fat and cheese top the restaurant's caesar salad, and housemade hot chocolate and locally baked pies from Schmucker's lend a sweet note, like a banker who underwrites loans with chocolate coins.
Dégagé Express calls the historic Commercial Building home. It is rumored that none other than Abraham Lincoln stayed at the building when it doubled as an inn way back in the early 19th century. Today, Dégagé uses the winsome building to host another cornerstone of the American experience: live jazz music.
The ovens at Mancino's Pizza and Grinderswork work overtime. They cook each day, turning out batches of the restaurant's signature breadsticks, hot meat-and-cheese-covered grinders on freshly baked bread, and, of course, specialty or build-your-own pizzas. The ovens' interiors breathe thermal life into concoctions whose histories stretch far back in time. Their grinders were born?according to Mancino's menu?on the East Coast during World War I, when Italian immigrants served hearty sandwiches to shipyard workers who were grinding off rivets for warships. Near the ovens, cooks cover spaghetti and lasagna in handcrafted marinara sauce using an old family recipe. In addition to hardworking ovens, the restaurant's new location boasts four large-screen TVs and an ice-cream bar to cool down well-heated palates.
The Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani only honors the most authentic Neapolitan pizza with its seal of certification. The pies at 5th St. Pub make the cut. Perhaps it’s the dough recipe penned 150 years ago. Or maybe it’s the fresh veggies and imported Italian meats and cheeses that chefs pile on top of the menu’s traditional and creative pizzas. Regardless, a slice of margherita or bruschetta pesto pizza complements a craft beer or glass of wine.
The recipes at Rosie’s Italian Grille have spanned oceans and generations to appeal to present-day senses with aromatic Old World fare. Born in Montelepre, Sicily, Rosie immigrated to the United States in 1924, bundling with her a cache of culinary treasures mapped from mother to daughter. When the first Rosie’s Italian Grille opened on Sylvania Avenue, her three sons asserted that the hardest part of the entire enterprise was “translating her recipes.”
Today, executive chef Eric Kish continues to translate and update Rosie's culinary blueprints, marrying traditional and modern influences in a menu that boasts fine steaks, award-winning pizzas, seafood flown in from the Florida Keys, and fresh-baked desserts lauded for their presentation by the Toledo Blade. In the 27 years since the original Rosie’s opened, guests have delighted in not just the food, but the Tuscan-themed setting illuminated by flickering candlelight, which is more romantic than the flickering of a tableside cardiograph.