Sturdy, huge, and basking in the warmth of candles suspended overhead, the community table inside Mia Cucina's Powell outpost is an apt metaphor for the community that frequents the restaurant. At both locations, a sense of hospitality vies with the aromas of house sauces to charm those who walk through the doors. Children—who dine gratis on Mondays and Wednesdays—peruse a specialized menu with mazes and games, absorbing trivia about Italy's climate, its inventions, and the volcanoes that spew marinara sauce. Adults scan their own menu, which embraces Italian staples along with more updated plates, from chicken parmesan to pesto-rubbed mahi-mahi fillets.
When they aren't browsing the cuisine, their eyes might linger on the shelves of the floating bar, where wine bottles and glasses levitate over the counter instead of bogarting the chairs. The surrounding wall mimics gray stonework, adding a rustic cellar ambiance to the setting, though the white cloths draped over each table bespeak modern sophistication. The murmur of conversations between families, friends, and couples pervades the genial space, where Mia Cucina insists "everyone's Italian."
The staff at Gee Willikers New York Style Deli assembles classic deli sandwiches and East Coast deli staples exactly as tradition demands—by hand. Start with an ultra-classic option such as the slightly absurd Richie's Ridiculous Reuben, which is served on rye with lean corned beef or pastrami, melted swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and homemade thousand-island dressing ($9.99). Soaked in italian dressing, The Italian Stallion charges straight down throats with a cavalcade of spicy meats, mozzarella cheese, and zesty italian vegetables ($7.99), while Gee Willikers's take on the cheesesteak hides in a hoagie roll, waiting to invade sleeping mouths with meat, onions, banana peppers, and american cheese ($7.99). Tongues can also tune up their tasters with matzah ball soup ($3.99), potato knish ($2.99), and cheese blintz ($1.99/each or $4.99/for three).
Fans of battered appetizers will appreciate Mudflats' expansive selection. Dunk fried pickle chips into vats of ranch ($5.49), or try the potato skins ($6.99), full loaded with melted cheddar, crispy bacon, and sour cream. For those preferring a lighter bite, opt for a signature salad such as the Sunburst ($9.99), a fresh and fruity favorite with baby spinach, fruit, feta, red onion, nut brittle, and homemade cinnamon Tabasco vinaigrette. You'll also find a sizable list of sandwiches and burgers.
The expert teppanyaki chefs at Ichiban use their iron griddles as the primary tools in building a menu that sizzles with steaks, seafood, and noodle dishes, and a sushi bar that unfurls with makimono. Although the sushi wears its Japanese pride on its seaweed sleeve, both steakhouses also boast a streak of avant-garde international influence, with such offerings as the seared salmon roll––salmon skin and cucumber topped with seared salmon and salsa ($13). The Crazy roll's deliciousness makes diners believe that their tongues are flavor magnets with morsels of shrimp tempura, avocado, flying-fish roe, and spicy mayo ($7). Hibachi dinner entrees—such as the filet mignon and scallops ($22.95)—arrive with an entourage of sides that include two pieces of shrimp tempura, vegetables, and steamed rice (substitute fried rice for $1.65).
Infused with the authentic Italian flavor of traditional family recipes, Monte Carlo's savory dishes have graced greedy plate surfaces with heaping portions for more than 30 years. From Monte Carlo's kitchen flows a river of homemade sauces, dotted with bell-pepper rapids and lasagna kayaks. A new, pasta-packed menu sets taste-bud forests aflame with heated additions such as the spicy sausage signature pizza ($6.99 for 8") and shrimp scampi ($11.99). Old-guard palates can salute their classic taste proclivities with timeworn favorites, such as eggplant parmigiana ($7.99), and a vast array of subs, salads, desserts, and more satisfies any remaining gastronomic desires.
Q2 Bistro's menu of Cantonese-inspired dishes features family-developed recipes as well as flavor combinations hand-me-downed from the master chefs of China. Wake up your taste buds with spicy salty calamari ($6.95) and walnut shrimp ($6.95), or put a crabby tummy growl to rest with an appetizer platter of two crab rangoons, two spring rolls, and two egg rolls ($7.50). After taking down these edible opponents one at a time with flying forks of fury, entrust your taste buds to the man in charge by trying a chef specialty such as the Mongolian trio (tiger shrimp, beef, and chicken sautéed with white and green onions in a spicy Mongolian sauce, $11.25) or spicy pineapple fried rice ($10.55). Q2 also boasts a wide selection of signature rice pots, including the hoisin duo with tofu (tender slices of beef and chicken sautéed with tofu, broccoli, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots, $10.95), goncho beef with green beans (wok-flashed beef stir fry with green beans, $10.75), and eggplant with minced pork (served in a spicy Szechwan sauce, $10.55). For a more traditional standby, opt for a plate of kong pao chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp ($8.95–$9.95).