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.
The cooks at Cinelli's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria craft New York-inspired classic and modern Italian entrees, including tilapia encrusted with crabmeat, filet gorgonzola, tortellaci—a homemade beef and veal dumpling—in a wild-mushroom ragout with truffle oil, and a goat-cheese-stuffed portobello mushroom topped with arugula, fire-roasted peppers, and balsamic reduction. Their success has allowed them to spread across multiple locations, each of which also serves New-York-style pizza.
It makes sense that Wolfpack fans flock to Amedeo's Italian Restaurant. After all, the restaurant was founded by former Wolfpack player Amedeo "Dick" DeAngelis, who moved to Raleigh to play football for NC State in 1954. DeAngelis quickly acclimated to the field and his new town but greatly missed the home-style Italian meals his mother and grandmother used to make back home in Pennsylvania. In 1963, he tackled the issue head-on by opening his own restaurant—one that specialized in his family's recipes.
In the decades since, DeAngelis's restaurant has remained a big part of the local scene. Customers return for pizza; sumptuous pasta dishes loaded with jumbo shrimp or italian sausage; and American-style treats such as buffalo wings, steak sandwiches, and fried mozzarella. The eatery continues to support local sports teams by offering food specials during viewings of Sunday NFL games and by serving Wolfpack-themed cocktails from a full bar.
Domino's recently reformulated its pizza recipe, which puts the buyer in command of a plentitude of pie-personalizing possibilities. Test the sturdiness of a hand-tossed thin crust with mounds of hearty marinara, ham, chicken, green peppers, black olives, and spinach, or fill a deep-dish foundation with alfredo sauce, bacon, onions, jalapeños, fresh mushrooms, and banana peppers. While delicious design options stretch into infinity like a taffy pull in a black hole, the eatery's specialty pizzas make choosing more manageable. Peruse pies like the MeatZZa Feast, which is piled high with pepperoni, ham, italian sausage, beef, and extra mozzarella, and the Pacific Veggie, a flashy West Coast–concoction of roasted red peppers, spinach, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, black olives, feta, mozzarella, and provolone.
Over plates of Italian dishes and drinks, visitors to Ciago’s can spot multiple generations of the Candes family bustling between the kitchen, dining room, and full bar. The family and staff carry plates of veal parmesan and pizzas crowned with artichoke hearts, jalapeños, and eggplant, which diners wash down with more than 20 wines. Beneath spotlights at the 20-seat bar, patrons look up breathlessly at high-definition televisions as athletic events reach their conclusion and players are doused in Gatorade to prove they aren’t robots. Tabletops line up beneath the awning of the outdoor patio and snake out into sunnier areas dappled by the shade from marinara-red umbrellas. Glittering strings of hanging lights illuminate the patio when night falls or when oversized passing parade floats eclipse the sun.
Sicilian-born chef Franco Cominato continues to man the stovetops at Pulcinella's, a task he has performed since the restaurant first opened more than 10 years ago. He relies on his knowledge of his native land when creating thick-crusted, Sicilian-style pizzas as well as thinner, Neapolitan-style pies, each available with sun-dried tomatoes, sausage, banana peppers, and 11 other toppings. But pizza’s only part of the story; zesty or spicy marinara adorns the pasta platters, and sautéed chicken breasts emerge in either a citrusy white-wine sauce or a rich and creamy marsala sauce. Guests feast on these dishes in a dining room where sconces light burnt-orange walls, which are adorned with gilt-framed paintings of Italian cities and the Roman Coliseum's famously decadent hopscotch tournaments.:m]]