No one leaves Ragazzi's New York Style Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant hungry. That's because the chef and kitchen staff are dedicated not only to authenticity in preparing rich fettuccine alfredo and crispy veal parmigiana, but also to generous portions and giant slices of pizza. They toss their pasta with everything from lightly battered and sauteed shrimp to veal and prosciutto, with their sauces being so in demand that they now sell their signature tomato sauces by the jar and tanker.
Amid the dining room's plush booths and tables decorated with the New York City skyline, the wait staff ferries neapolitan pizzas that combine the interweaving flavors of tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella. Their guests can order pizza slice by slice to get a taste of all 20 toppings, or order entire pies in specialty combinations such as the chicken pomodoro with a creamy lemon sauce or the stuffed meat pie that surrounds its filling with two layers of dough sans sauce.
Restaurants are in Chef Victor Wang's blood—he comes from a family with multiple generations in the industry. Rather than rest on that heritage, he toured Asia and the Americas for more than 20 years, seeking recipes and lessons from numerous chefs specializing in a variety of cuisines.
These days, the critically acclaimed chef injects American flavors into classic Asian cuisine from countries such as China, Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia. His menu may include Prince Edward Island mussels doused with holly, basil, and ginger; lemongrass-infused chicken soaked in a coconut curry cooked for hours; and seared sirloin marinated in sesame, soy, and garlic. Chef Victor can often be found in the dining room, explaining the complexity of his dishes and why it's too hard to teach broccoli to roll over.
Strings of lights border the green awning spanning Boulevard Beef & Ale's 75-seat outdoor patio. Indoors, neon signs and televisions cast a warm glow on the wood-paneled bar. Chefs extend this notion of comfort and casualness to the menu, dressing hand-shaped burger patties in nothing but housemade whiskey sauce, horseradish cheddar, and sweatpants, as well as enhancing USDA Choice steaks with freshly prepared tomato-and-feta salad.
During World War I, Greek immigrant Louis Pappas served in the Army as a personal chef to General John Pershing. To give the hungry general some extra nutrition, Louis began adding scoops of potato salad to his traditional greek salads. When Louis returned to the United States, he opened up his own restaurant, Louis Pappas Riverside Café, where he would re-create this signature dish using fresh produce from his own ranch in Tarpon Springs.
Today, Louis Pappas's grandson continues his grandfather's old Florida family tradition at Pappas Ranch. There, he and his kitchen serve up a new menu of fresh seafood, poultry, sandwiches, street tacos, hand-cut steaks, and barbecue dishes whose "family flair" has been lauded by Metromix Tampa Bay. They continue to scoop savory housemade potato salad into their internationally renowned Louis Pappas Famous greek salad, tossing it in massive bowls that serve as many as four diners. Bartenders dole out glasses of locally brewed craft beers and wine or mix cocktails and martinis at the full center bar with flat-screen TVs.
The restaurant's decor channels that of the original Pappas family ranch. In the dining room, spacious booths are surrounded by rustic wooden walls, and outside is a covered outdoor patio.