In 1959, Joe Aurelio Jr. opened a four-table restaurant in a suburb of Chicago to sell his home-cooked italian beef and pizzas. Slowly, the business grew, until it had taken over four storefronts—but it was still too small for the lines that stretched down the block. In 1977, Aurelio’s moved into a new, 12,000-square-foot space to become world's largest pizzeria. But demand continued to grow.
Today, cooks knead out the Aurelio family's secret pizza recipe and rehearse the Aurelio family's secret handshake at more than 40 locations across the country. They pile classic ingredients atop thin-crust pies, or bake up thick-crust renditions, stuffed pizzas, and Calabreses filled with spinach and cheese. Though the spotlight shines brightest on the pizza these days, the italian beef is still around, anchoring a menu of toasted sandwiches and pasta dishes.
Las Vegas Weekly describes Black Mountain Grill’s 24-hour hangout as "chalet-like"—a worthy attempt to capture the idiosyncratic vibe of a restaurant that boasts a brick fireplace, island bar, outdoor patio, and sequestered loft. The aromas of certified Angus steaks, baby back ribs, and flavorful pastas waft from the open kitchen during the dinner rush, which gives way to a late-night crowd that takes its place among the deep, leather chairs of the island bar and delights in a delectable cross section of breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes. Black Mountain Grill keeps the gaming spirit alive throughout the day with a selection of Game King video-poker games and a slot-machine meal selector that serves only cherries, apples, and bananas.
With more than 700 locations, Jamba Juice proves to the masses that nutrition can be speedy and delicious. Since the beginning, the company’s product philosophy has revolved around choosing whole fruits and other natural ingredients over artificial flavorings, sweeteners, and preservatives. The menu is completely free of high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats, and it offers additional accommodations for vegan and gluten-free diets.
This naturalistic approach is fully realized in Jamba Juice's selection of smoothies. Made with 100% fruit juice, sherbet, and frozen yogurt, the frosty delights range from all-fruit smoothies such as peach perfection and strawberry whirl to more indulgent creamy treats, including peanut butter moo'd, an enticing blend of peanut butter, bananas, nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt, and milk chocolate.
For those with heartier appetites, steel-cut oats steep in soymilk before being enhanced with toppings such as apples, cinnamon, and brown-sugar crumble. The lunch hour presents protein-packed mini wraps, toasted bistro sandwiches and California Flatbreads that pack only about 320–420 calories each.
Just weeks before his wedding in 2006, Vaughan Lazar sat down with his college friend Michael Gordon. They weren’t fine-tuning toasts or planning the bachelor party, but rather intently discussing what they could do to make a difference in the lives of others. After a round of brainstorming, they realized that there was a lack of organic restaurants with quick dine-in, pickup, or delivery options, and thus, Pizza Fusion was born. Their menu features pizzas with regular, multigrain, and gluten-free crusts made from scratch and crowned with local produce, free-range chicken, and vegan toppings. Wine, gluten-free beer, and all-natural soft drinks from Honest Tea and Boylan accompany salads tossed with pear and gorgonzola or sandwiches stacked with portobello mushrooms and pesto. In addition to their organic pantry, the restaurant franchise keeps the environment clean, taking measures such as supplying a fleet of hybrid delivery cars for each store, constructing LEED-certified buildings, and purchasing renewable energy certificates to offset 100% of its power consumption. The pizza place is also home to the Organic Kids Club, which teaches children lessons in basic organics and rewards them with Pizza Fusion diplomas and early registration privleges for future semesters.
A nonprofit organization that helps people with disabilities, New Vista Community hosts festive fundraisers throughout the year. Savvy to the pulse of the community, event organizers throw raucous events such as wine walks, which regale guests with the foolproof combination of fine food samples, wine and cocktails, and live music. Guests at the Brew's Best Hand-Crafted Beer festival sip free samples of regional brews, and at the lighthearted Adam & Eve's Love Fling, love-happy attendees and confused mannequin collectors bid on bachelors and bachelorettes.
Though many in the community may know New Vista Community primarily for these events, the organization dedicates its best energies to help those with disabilities. Founded in 1984 by three sets of parents with intellectually challenged kids, the charity provides group homes, assisted living, job training, and field trips to kids and adults.
In the kitchens at Kyklos Greek Cafe, Sophocles, Constantine, and Ioannis Frangakis devise tasty dishes that draw on their Greek heritage and family recipes. Diners can select entrees from the eatery's medley of gyros, including the chicken gyros supreme, topped with feta cheese, and the philly gyros, replete with hot sauce and a Liberty Bell-esque crack in its pita bread. The menu further quells belly rumblings with an eclectic mix of homemade hunger-fixers, including greek salad, lamb-stuffed grape leaves, and the mediterranean sampler plate, a medley of falafel, tahini, hummus, tabbouleh, kalamata olives, and pita bread used to sop up every last morsel. Complete the transition from an innie to an outie with a bellybutton-bursting dessert, such as homemade baklava or melomakarona, traditional Greek–style cookies dipped in honey and topped with crunchy walnuts.