At Treva Restaurant & Bar, owner and head chef Dorjan Puka emphasizes simple, peasant-style Italian dishes of homemade pasta and rustic prosciutto, earning his restaurant a favorable feature by the New York Times. Northern Italy’s rich culinary traditions dominate his menu with creamy polenta, savory cured pork, and hearty servings of fresh fish and pheasant. In the bustling kitchen, chefs attack their craft with a focus on handmade authenticity, their hands waving as fast as a caffeinated weatherperson’s as they make their own stock and forge ravioli, gnocchi, and tagliatelle by hand.
In the dining room, guests enjoy brunches of panettone french toast with mascarpone cheese or dinners of tender strip steak as they sip smooth Tuscan wines or cocktails and martinis. A contemporary European vibe permeates the decor, with decades-old photographs of pastoral Italian scenes dotting walls the color of whipping cream and butter. Minimalist chandeliers, meanwhile, nod to an industrial aesthetic, with their bare bulbs casting warm light over polished black tabletops and Old World–style wood chairs.
"I grew up around restaurants. I came from hospitality," Angie explains, looking around at Luna's newly painted taupe and gold walls. Luna Pizza has indeed traced her family tree; Angie and her son took over the business from her brother.
In the eatery itself, marble-top tables shine in their wrought-iron bases. "West Hartford––it's an old town with a small-town character,” Angie says. “Many of our customers can walk from their homes." The impetus for that walk is the shop’s distinctive thin crust and adventurous palette of toppings, including breaded chicken, pesto, and cherry peppers, which are prepared as needed. "We won't do a batch," Angie explains. "All the veggies are roasted fresh." The sauces are also homemade, and the ingredients sourced locally when possible. The resulting pies can hold a powerful draw, Angie says. "There are many customers who have been coming to Luna Pizza for well over 20 years. They order the same pizza, the same toppings. That's loyalty, and that matters."
Brazil Grill's menu of Brazilian churrasco celebrates flame-licked meat that earned a Best of Hartford nod in 2008 by Hartford Magazine,. Priced by the pound ($6.99–$12.99), meals are built around heaping portions of meats such as lamb, chicken wrapped in bacon, and pork sausage that sizzles renditions of "The Girl From Ipanema." A meat maestro slices fresh cuts from skewers of pork loin and top sirloin to add to plates already teeming with salad, fries, and vegetable sides from the buffet. A suite of non-churrasco offerings lures tongues away, with such choices as a portuguese pizza topped with mozzarella cheese, ham, bacon, and egg ($19.75) and a ham-and-sweet-corn house pizza ($21.50).
Anyone who doubts the authenticity of Dino Cialfi's Italian cooking is welcome to visit his first restaurant, Piccolo Arancio. They'd have to fly to Rome first, though. Dino and his brother Sal opened Piccolo Arancio after training under their uncle, and quickly honed their management skills while crafting recipes near the Trevi Fountain. When they headed back to America, they left the kitchen in the hands of their cousins. They now work with their sisters Tina and Rosa at Peppercorn's Grill, recalling their experience in Italy—and the tips that Chef Dino learned from his mother—as they prep housemade pastas, artfully grilled meats, and gelato flavors such as hazelnut praline.
Dinners here tend to be unpredictable because Dino whips up a new gnocchi and risotto plate each night, rather than just serving the same ones under different spellings. He mixes his ravioli and fettucine with lobster in seafood pasta dishes, and tosses rigatoni with housemade sausage. When it comes to meat, diners can keep it simple by ordering their salmon, ribeye, veal chop, or free-range chicken breast "simply grilled," or opt for a specialty entree. These range from char-grilled filet mignon in an aged-balsamic glaze to grilled Norwegian salmon in a brunello red-wine reduction. Wine by itself also flows from imported and domestic bottles.
Serving fresh and speedy pies across America for more than 50 years, Little Caesars now sates impatient appetites and sauce-starved tongue buds worldwide. Select from 13 toppings to embed like rubies in a sumptuous, made-to-order 14" original crust ($6 with one topping; $1.99 for each additional topping), or plumb the savory strata of a large cheese or pepperoni deep-dish ($7.99). Little Caesars' large Hot-N-Ready pizzas are available to drop-in patrons posthaste, eliminating stress caused by spur-of-the-moment houseguests who insist on sleeping on doughy disks ($5). Italian cheese bread ($4.29) and Caesar wings with barbecue or buffalo sauce ($10 for 16) are available for stomachs that have developed crust issues ever since they caught pizza sharing a plate with pre-dressed salad.