It's not hard to relax at Rhett's River Grill, where you'll find diners on the seasonal patio kicking back with a cold beer or cocktail in one hand and a juicy burger or shrimp po'boy in the other. The eatery's nautical theme also contributes to the laid-back aura. Faux stuffed fish and tiki-themed artwork decorate the space, and fishnets hung behind the bar catch flying wine corks. However, it's the menu of raw oysters, fresh clams, and juicy steaks that really grabs diners' attention—the food even earned three 2011 Open Table Diners' Choice awards. The selection of casual Southern and East Coast dishes, such as crab cakes and cajun chicken, blends seamlessly with upscale steakhouse and brunch fare, including a decadent smoked-salmon benedict draped with hollandaise.
The recipes at l'Italia Restaurant and Bar date back hundreds of years, first created by the peasant and merchant families in Italy. The dishes include land and sea proteins, local produce, and even a peppering of flavors from other cultures. Chefs encase tilapia in an egg batter and simmer the filets in white wine and lemon juice, and pair balsamic glazed-grilled beef medallions with noodles covered in gorgonzola-alfredo sauce. Guests can also customize their own pasta dishes, with two-handfuls of pasta options and 14 sauces that add up to such combinations as cheese ravioli with vodka sauce or gluten-free penne under a ladle of basil pesto. The eatery also honors Italy with murals of historical landmarks that include the Colosseum,Vatican City, and Michelangelo's favorite Pizza Hut.
Kybecca Wine Bar, a slow-food restaurant set within a converted 1860s general store, freshens up palates with a gourmet menu of small plates and entrees crafted from locally grown ingredients. Parties start the gustatory revelry with a cheese platter, festooned with three or four artisan offerings such as Cherry Glen chipotle chevre and fromage d’affinois brie. Guests pass around tapas-style bites of pistachio-pesto gnocchi ($9) or four bison blue-cheese sliders ($12) made from humanely raised meat. Spend quality time with full-plate entrees, including the brace of lamb ribs ($21/full) accompanied by pesto gnocchi and roasted tomatoes or the truffle-buttered beef tenderloin ($17), which rests, like a spectacularly successful and eccentric truffle trader, on a bed of wild-mushroom risotto.
Soro Chill and Grille's glass-lined door stands as a gateway to creative drinks, contemporary Southern cooking, and the sounds of local bands strumming familiar tunes. The menu unfolds to reveal appetizers brimming with seafood and creole sauces meant to be sopped up with crusty french bread or unusually absorbent mustaches. Entrees of pasta, steaks, and roast chicken follow the same Southern traditions by donning Cajun blackened spices or piquant barbecue sauce, inspiring diners to finger paint plates with love letters to the chef. Soro's commitment to supporting the community extends past menu ingredients to locally made furniture and live music performed by Roanoke artists. The welcoming stone fireplace warms guests, and a large communal table encourages mingling or 30-person games of patty-cake.
Energetic live music pulsates across the spacious quarters of Growler’s American Grill and Venue—once known as Awful Arthur’s Towers—as barkeeps fill mugs and growlers with local pale and brown ales, porters, and a slew of bottled favorites. Platefuls of hearty American and Southern favorites, from meatloaf sandwiches to fish 'n' chips, energize diners to take the stage for a round of karaoke, with the background music supplied by a DJ, live band, or brownnosing date.
Outer Banks Seafood Company's freshly caught seafood dishes are conceptualized by owner Chef Wes Stepp, who is also the culinary brains behind Red Sky café (click here to see him in action.) Flip through the new fall menu and encounter oven-roasted parmesan-encrusted flounder-and-crab florentine ($22.99) and the nags header, which keeps seafood diehards canoeing through the door for jumbo lump crab-cake, scallops, fresh shrimp, and flounder fillet ($25.99). Non-seafoodies can chomp Carova grilled barbecue chicken, which rests on a bed of red neck risotto and a smattering of mango relish ($14.99). For dessert, indulge in the red velvet cake ($6.99), layered so high that it would be considered the second-tallest building in Delaware.