By the Rock Pizza & Gyro has dished out American, Italian, and Greek dishes from its Saint Albans kitchen for more than a quarter century. Deluxe six-ounce cheeseburgers join sandwiches such as meatball parmesan heroes and gyros with tzatziki sauce. The cooks also fire specialty pizzas such as the Grandma, which tops crushed tomatoes and fresh mozzarella with leaves of basil. By the Rock caters special events throughout the area, such as weddings or Thursdays.
Owners Sarac and Eddie divide up duties at Mermaid Restaurant, as Sarac infuses traditional Italian and French recipes with his signature flair in the kitchen and Eddie dotes on patrons and their imaginary dates in the dining room. Eddie and Sarac's symbiotic relationship mirrors that of their Italian and French dishes, which seamlessly mingle on the menu. Upscale entrees bridge the gap between the two countries: short cavatelli pasta brings the flavors of Italy, while côtelettes d'agneau, grilled baby lamb chops in a rhone red wine demi glace sauce, fills patrons’ mouths with French-born flavors without anyone having to lick the Eiffel Tower.
A hefty list of wines complements both the upscale fare and the ambience, with racks full of bottles surrounding the dining room. Soft light shines down, accenting hardwood floors, and crisp white tablecloths make an elegant landing pad for each dish or drink.
Meats, cheeses, fruits, and veggies line the counters and display cases at DaVinci Gourmet Market, where chefs draw upon a palette of fresh ingredients to compose take-home entrees and catered meals each day. To-go containers nearly overflow with wild-rice salad or crab cakes, and entrees of grilled salmon or roasted chicken make for ephemeral table centerpieces. The sun rises over omelets and traditional two-egg breakfasts, and the lunch menu’s specialty paninis invoke the Leaning Tower of Pisa with their stacked toppings and unstable groundwork of toasted ciabatta bread.
Family-owned since 1989, the kitchen at Poppy’s Place sends forth steaming plates of pasta and seafood with scents that suggest hours spent simmering tomatoes, chopping garlic, and stirring sauces. Waiters glide across the caramel-hued floorboards, bearing trays to a table cloaked in spotless white linen like a ghost in a job interview. Dishes of pasta, saltimbocca, and catch-of-the-day fish settle there alongside bottles of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The clatter of busy forks drifts past the lengthy bar, where rows of bottles bristle and patrons sip beverages beneath yellow walls, hanging flowers, and an absence of shrill cuckoo clocks.
Italian pastas, meats, and veggies dressed in tasty sauces pepper Trattoria Lucia’s dinner and lunch menus, resting alongside a varied assortment of wines and specialty cocktails. The caprese—a duet of tomatoes and mozzarella ($8.95)—sings an opening number for the spaghetti alla Frank Sinatra, its noodles backed by shrimp, chopped clams, attractive bodyguards, and olives ($15.95). Meanwhile, arugula salad and tomatoes top a crisp breaded cutlet in the veal capricciosa ($17.95), and the tricolor salad ($8.95–$10.95) sends teeth traipsing through a garden of sliced pears, pignoli, and shaved ricotta. Once satiated, diners can cheers to good health and lucrative penny stocks after clinking together a couple glasses of the sparkling brut (a $6 value per glass).