Nestled in historic downtown Wake Forest, Over The Falls whips up steaming hand-tossed pizzas and stacked sandwiches in a dining room that recalls a cozy log cabin. Red and yellow ceiling lanterns cluster together like glowing mushroom tops, casting light on dark wood furnishings and sleek exposed brick walls. While dining on a hand-tossed pesto pizza or sauce-slathered wings, patrons can sip a beer, catch a game on the flat-screen, or chest bump their reflection in the floor to ceiling front windows.
The chefs at Girasole Trattoria and its adjoining gastropub, Gatehouse Tavern, plate up local and international flavors in a duo of welcoming neighborhood gathering places. The dinner menu at Girasole Trattoria showcases hearty Tuscan-style fare, including 10-inch rustic pizzas ($10), which exit the kitchen's wood-fired oven adorned with toppings such as house-made sausage, chicken and pesto, or a quartet of cheeses as dairy-rich as a billionaire milk baron. A side of pasta accompanies the veal parmigiano ($18), and a wood-grilled Black Angus sirloin extols the high vitamin content of its plate-mate, braised kale ($18). Shepherd's pie ($12) strolls over the hills of Gatehouse Tavern's menu along with gourmet burgers ($8–$11) formed into 7- and 10-ounce patties or full-scale models of history's best-known ferris wheels.
From an adults' area equipped with free WiFi, parents and guardians watch their socks-clad youngsters amble about Jumpin' Beans' inflatable playground, where they can scale, slide, and bounce on the facility's air-filled structures. Seattle's Best coffee and espresso drinks keep grownups alert as kids reenergize with pizza or drinks from an onsite concessions stand or munch on their own snacks. In addition to open-play sessions, parties gather groups in Jumpin' Beans' play space, where the facility's party hosts oversee each soiree's arrangement of inflatables sidled up beside big-screen TVs, DVD entertainment, and cakes that turn back into cupcakes at midnight. When not busy with playing and partying, Jumpin' Beans' Jump Start programs, helmed by a veteran elementary-school teacher, teach pupils motor skills and offer social enrichment via lessons, games, and physical activities.
When waiting for a meal, 15 minutes can seem like an eternity. That's why the staff at Mona Lisa Restaurant and Pizzeria pledges to prepare all dishes in fewer than 15 minutes without sacrificing carefully balanced flavors. For their classic Italian entrees and pizzas, chefs harness fresh ingredients, including prosciutto, grilled eggplant, mozzarella, and pecorino cheese. Mona Lisa even contracted a nutritional adviser to consult on the menu, which bolsters diets with whole-wheat pastas and other healthy dishes. After dinner, a soft-serve ice-cream machine dispenses complimentary dessert and unsolicited advice on how to arrange toppings.
Before opening up Capri Restaurant in 2000, owner Dino Pinelli worked as a restaurateur in the French Riviera, on Caribbean cruise ships, and in New York. These experiences helped him develop a simple, yet universally appealing philosophy around food: if you wouldn't serve it to your family, don't serve it to customers. He and his kitchen team showcase this ironclad ethos in each dish served at Capri, from the lunches of caprese paninis made with fresh mozzarella to the hearty, rustic dinners of spaghetti carbonara, dijon-crusted salmon, and tender veal saltimbocca. The restaurant's soothing crimson walls and cloth-clad tables help the dedicated staff cultivate a romantic ambience, but the team can also eschew the elegant digs to cater for 700 people at weddings, large office celebrations, or the birthday parties of children who are absurdly popular.