Cousin Pete had a friendly face and knack for remembering names, while cousin Charles had a sharp eye for details and a head for business. But they both had a taste for good Italian food, so it was only natural they would join forces. That’s how Mangia Pizza Restaurant, with its BYOB approach and a menu of Italian favorites, was born—and with a little help from their years of restaurateur and customer-service experience.
Today, it's not uncommon to see cousin Pete meandering his way around the big booths in the brightly lit space, introducing himself to newcomers, swapping jokes with regulars, and discussing local politics with all the babies. As he bustles about the dining room, his chefs are hard at work in the kitchen tossing crispy Neapolitan and Sicilian-style pies with gourmet ingredients such as buffalo chicken and eggplant rollatini. They also layer crunchy paninis with fresh mozzarella, roasted turkey, and grilled chicken, and fold chicken, veal, and seafood into a time-honored dishes that make Mangia a place for not only attentive service, but for good eats.
Walking into Ruppert's, one might expect to see fedora-clad patrons hunkered over their scotches at the rich, dark-wood bar. That’s because the restaurant strives to emulate old New York City bistros and diners from the 1930's and 40's. This nod to the past also surfaces in its name, which comes from Colonel Jacob Ruppert—the owner of the New York Yankees during the Babe Ruth era.
Like the city they take their inspiration from, Ruppert's cooks meld the international with the classically American. These kitchen staffers looked to the north when coming up with the Canadian Mountie burger, and tapped into their inner island dwellers when developing the Jamaican burger, which they top with cold watermelon relish, grilled pineapple, and jack cheese. They also serve up classic, no-frills dishes, such as tuna melts on New York rye and Top Hat Chicken. As diners enjoy theses inventive or traditional spreads, they can tap their two-toned brogues to live entertainment ranging from Elvis impersonators to Lou Pallo, a former member of the Les Paul Trio.
Circles of fresh mozzarella, whole basil leaves, and fresh slices of tomato rest atop the aptly named fresh mozzarella pie at Frank's Pizza. The aesthetic diverges from Americanized versions of pizza; this pie adheres to the traditional Italian style. But that's not to say Frank's completely shirks American influences. Try the sautéed sausage, fried calamari, or stuffed pizza for something a bit outside of the traditional, like an Italian maître d' who questions if it is amore.
But if you choose to stick with one of the strikingly authentic Italian eats on Frank's menu, you have many options outside of pizza. Housemade focaccia sandwiches, veggie lasagna, and shrimp scampi present tempting alternatives.
The Little Food Cafe’s cooks assemble sauce-slathered chicken-pesto press sandwiches, fresh salads, and mile-high meatloaf in a charming café setting. Midday hunger pangs meet their match in refreshing entrees such as the avocado club, a bacon-and-avocado bundle that fires up tongues more than trilling the first words of their high-school fight song. Greens include Italian-style salads strewn with bite-size eggplant and provolone and taco salads adorned with ground turkey, cheddar, tomato, avocado, and tortilla strips. Alternately, evening eaters can avail themselves of appetizers such as meat-filled rice balls, fish such as honey-dijon-glazed salmon, and down-home entrees such as mile-high meatloaf.
The chefs at Muscle Maker Grill put a healthy spin on flavorful dishes inspired by Italian, Asian, American, and southwestern cuisines. The chain was founded in 1995 by Rod Silva, a fitness enthusiast who grew weary of fast-food eateries that bogged customers down with unhealthy morsels and toys sculpted from butter. What began as a smoothie stand has expanded into a successful franchise that slings pastas, burgers, salads, and Tex-Mex wraps and proudly displays the calorie content and relationship status of each dish on the menu.
Pizza Chefs’ homemade sauce comes from a generations-old family recipe. That doesn’t mean everything else here is traditional, though—in a twist of recipes, you can actually have pasta on top of your pizza, such as in the baked ziti, shrimp alfredo, and macaroni and cheese pizzas. That’s in addition to other uncommon toppings such as fried calamari and shrimp scampi. This creativity with pasta extends to other dishes—for appetizers, there are egg rolls stuffed with mac-n-cheese, too, and you’re free to turn their spaghetti into a Fabio wig.