A four-tiered stone fountain welcomes visitors to Papa J’s, a 35-year-old restaurant whose food, decor, and family friendliness conjure a classic Italian ambience. Their chefs use recipes passed down to Ray Anthony, grandson of “Mama J,” aka Antoinette Giraldi, who inherited them from prior generations of her Italian family. The team reads these culinary blueprints to cook calzones and hot sandwiches with fillings of meatballs and cheese or bake pizzas with mainstay toppings such as mushrooms and pepperoni. The kitchen team can even stuff their pies with ricotta—the safest place to store cheese apart from a Roth IRA. Beyond Italian staples, Papa J's Italian Restaurant presents an array of seafood including shrimp and salmon.
Under the supervision of an experienced chef at Woody’s Tavern, crackling logs not only give pizza dough a crispy crunch, but also create complex, smoky flavors. Chefs top pizzas with specialty combinations, such as the California Dream's basil pesto and artichoke hearts or the Pep Pep Pepperoni's roasted poblanos and jalapeños, and use gluten-free crusts and big, round carrots for those with dietary restrictions. Customers can enjoy the slices by the pie or sample a variety at the shop’s featured all-you-can-eat salad, soup, and pizza bar. These dishes and their hearty half-pound burgers pair well with the 16 drafts on tap, award-winning wine, margaritas, and other cocktails from the bar.
After spending years working for Dominos Pizza, Vince Schmuhl decided that he could do a better job of preparing and delivering quality pies to people's homes. He challenged the nationwide chain's dominance in the region by founding the first Blackjack Pizza on June 29, 1983.
Although delivering oven-fresh pies within 30 minutes was still a major goal for Schmuhl, he emphasized the importance of quality ingredients using sauce made from freshly packed tomatoes as well as hand-tossed dough that never sees the inside of a freezer or cryogenic chamber. This dedication to quality and speedy service allowed Blackjack Pizza to not only survive, but also thrive over the decades. The chain now includes more than 40 stores operating in four different states.
In addition to offering seven signature pies, Blackjack Pizza also allows customers to build their own order from crust to toppings. A choice of up to four savory, tangy, and piquant sauces form the base, topped with any of the 3 available cheeses, 7 meats, and 10 freshly diced vegetables. Regardless of the toppings, Blackjack Pizza respects the potential danger of food allergies by ensuring that none of its pies ever contain traces of MSG, peanuts, or peanut oil.
As you might have guessed from the name, icy cold treats dominate the menu at Snow Dessert. Shaved ice—available in flavors like mango, strawberry, and margarita—is served Hawaiian style, soaked in syrup and topped with fresh fruits, rainbow jelly, and sweet beans. Meanwhile, creamy scoops of gelato crown sugar cones or banana splits, while little pearls of tapioca give boba tea drinks an added pop. Those who want to warm up after all that chilly sweetness can lead a conga line around the clean, minimalist dining room, or stay seated to enjoy one of the kitchen's savory teriyaki rice or udon noodle bowls.
Brazil’s flag hangs proudly under the front counter at Little Brazil. The flag––vibrant green, yellow, and blue––reveals the eatery’s menu: flavorful and authentic Brazilian food. Chefs simmer pots full of black beans, smoked sausage, pork sirloin, bacon, and Brazilian dried beef. They blanket chicken cutlets in a sauce crafted from cream, garlic, tomatoes, onions, and mustard. The chefs’ sweet and savory pastries––with such fillings as chicken and Brazilian cream cheese, or cinnamon and banana––are deep-fried or shellacked at patrons’ request.
Though Mexican cuisine is known for its fiery flavors, a different connotation arises during meals at Cielo Mexican Restaurant—soothing water. That's because the eatery is perched right beside Hidden Lake, so named for the thousands of years it spent hiding inside a glacier. Gorgeous lakefront views give way to an equally charming interior of dazzling pendant lamps and the occasional flat-screen TV, which can entertain patrons until their food arrives. The menu mostly sticks to Mexican favorites, from breakfast burritos chock full of eggs, beans, and potatoes to house-made tamales with your choice of shredded beef or green chile and cheese. Cielo's chefs also showcase their culinary creative with less orthodox dishes, such as platters of jumbo shrimp stuffed with melted cheese and wrapped in bacon.