Much like some of the dishes its chefs create, Bella Monte is a combination of eclectic ingredients. Tables draped in striped cloths gather around artificial Roman ruins, under Asian-style parasols, and around an upside-down Christmas tree—hung from the ceiling, in the European tradition. The 7,000-square-foot indoor market’s varied decor hints at the restaurant, grocery, and delicatessen found within. In the kitchen, Executive Chef Erika Weisflog oversees a seasonally changing menu and designs dishes with ingredients from local producers and Italian importers. Her culinary team draws primarily from Italian and Mediterranean cuisine as they craft classic dishes such as seafood risotto, chicken roulade, veal saltimboca, and bella meatloaf.
Wednesday through Saturday nights, performer Charlie Wiseman plays and cavorts around the 9-foot grand piano during a cabaret-style show that’s filled with music, theater, and comedy. In the marketplace, shelves teem with home decor, international imports from France, Italy, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Japan, as well as goods from small organic producers in the United States. The collection includes rows of international wines, exotic olive oils, international cookware, and gift baskets. At Gourmet to Go, the on-site delicatessen, staff members serve fresh-baked Italian-style bread, artisanal cheeses, imported and housemade meats, and specialty foods such as gourmet butters, marinated artichokes, and dried fruits.
It all started with the wings. When Lendy's opened in 1987, it was the restaurant's fiery buffalo wings that gained it the most attention. Since then Lendy's has not only expanded its selection of sauces, but also become a place to sip a beer and watch the game between trips to the raw bar.
Awards Won at the 2013 War of the Wings
Lendy's signature line of sauces ranges from the habanero-spiced Below Hell to the mild barbecue glaze. In addition to appearing on other menu items, these sauces are available by the bottle, though plans for a 55-gallon barrel have been stymied by the national shortage of qualified coopers.
Whether you sit at one of the 16 chairs lining the bar or the 86 seats at the scattered tables, you're pretty much guaranteed an unobstructed view of a 42-inch HDTV: a dozen of the televisions hang from the walls, playing the biggest college and professional games all year long. If sports aren't your thing, pull on your singing sweater and volunteer for the Saturday night karaoke.
The glint of sunlight off the Empire State Building. The Statue of Liberty's outstretched torch. The crack of another home run echoing within Yankee Stadium. New York City's iconic scenery was built by hard-working people who knew the value of an honest day's work and, more importantly, a hearty sandwich to keep them going. Though it may be a little outside of Manhattan proper, The Route 58 Deli replicates the sights and scents of the borough's traditional delicatessens.
Boasting a recently revamped menu, and new extended hours (Monday?Sunday 10:30 a.m.?8:00 p.m.), the Virginia Beach outpost teems with meaty mainstays, from an overstuffed reuben that earned perfect scores during HamptonRoads.com's reuben taste-test to Sabrett all-beef hot dogs whose natural casings sizzle and split with seared-in flavor. Guests can wash down these gargantuan eats with a real New York egg cream or cans of Dr. Brown's cream soda, or end meals with sweet finales including Carnegie Deli triple-baked cheesecakes.
At Ammos Authentic Greek Cuisine's new location, chefs forge generously portioned meals culled from Hellenic culinary traditions. They parade an array of dishes imbued with flavorful splashes of extra-virgin olive oil and impressive knowledge of Plato?s ideal forms. The Mousaka features layers of eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, and seasoned ground beef, topped with a b?chamel sauce, while Athenian kabobs cloak a choice of chicken, beef tenderloin, or lamb in relish made from tomatoes, onions, and peppers. Diners can also opt for comfort fare such as the gyro, which glazes an herbaceous pocket of feta cheese, tomatoes, and olives in olive oil and oregano.
Jovial chatter fills the comfortable climes of Ammos?s dining room, which features live belly dancing that all diners are encouraged to participate in. When not locking eyes with a dance partner or tasty platter, diners can keep a wary eye on gossiping waterfowl while taking in sweeping views from the eatery?s outdoor terrace.
Geography teachers might quibble, but a fairly accurate map of India can be made by arranging the pots of Saffron Indian Bistro's octet of curries. Each curry draws on distinctive spices and herbs to represent a different region's cooking style. Acting as the common language to this culinary subcontinent is the blend of yogurt, ginger, garlic, and garam masala that marinates each skewer of tandoori chicken, lamb, or fish. Regardless of the entree, the chefs customize the heat to accommodate each diners' tastes, prepping plates with mild, savory flavors or enough incendiary spice to evaporate an iceberg.
Visual spice pervades the bistro's decor as well. Sunshine-yellow walls surround the small, striped booths and dark wooden tables. And when the sunlight ceases to stream through the large front windows, torch-like wall sconces and dangling pendant lamps take over, adding an atmospheric illumination to dinner dates.
Raised in England by Jamaican parents, Alvin Williams developed a knack for merging global ingredients early on. Now, at Cobalt Grille, he draws upon his heritage and tenure as a chef at some of London’s finest hotels to craft a menu of upscale fusion cuisine. He pairs local, organic veggies with organic, free-range lamb and duck breast, and enhances them with flourishes such as white-truffle alfredo sauce and wild-mushroom risotto.
Lauded by Hampton Roads as “sexy in an understated and elegant way,” Cobalt Grille’s dining room ensconces companions in booths illuminated by tiny blown-glass chandeliers and separated by thick black drapes that can, as long as the wine is as good as they say it is, double as impromptu capes.