Traditional pubs served as community hubs, places to see neighborhood folks and combine the flow of information with the flow of taps. Finnegan's Irish Pub aims to recreate that same setting for a modern audience, serving friendly sandwiches, burgers, and Irish entrees with plenty of beer.
Rather than depending on word of mouth for their stream of news, the pub's staff instead bedecks the dining room with flat-screen televisions and projectors. Outside, a television screens bathe the patio in its technicolor light. And some of the indoor booths come with their very own TVs, ideal for quietly feeding your curling addiction while pretending to care about football.
The chefs at Desiderio Italian-American Grill hand-roll meatballs, sprinkle spices into the house marina, and fill plates with ravioli shells. They craft every dish using the family recipes of owners Rick Marrero and Victor Rodriguez, creating ricotta cheesecake and Grandma Joanie's meatballs, which blend veal, pork, and beef. What isn't crafted in-house is still handmade—the cannolis arrive fresh from Artuso Pastry, a bakery in the Little Italy neighborhood of the Bronx. The restaurant's dining space extends to an outdoor patio, which shades patrons with an awning, trees, and a cumulus cloud tethered to the roof.
The owners of First Break Sports Bar & Grill turned a tragic fire into an opportunity. After the loss, they took time to update the space beyond its original condition, and today gleaming granite tops the bar and hardwood floors shine throughout. A typical night sees the latest sports events flickering on 25 HDTVs, while smokers retire to a separate lounge where they can throw darts through the smoke rings they blow. Players send billiard balls cracking at 9-foot Diamond Pro-Am tables, and on Wednesday nights, participants count their chips during Texas Hold 'Em tournaments. But whether they're spectating or playing, diners can fuel up with selections from the bar's menu with sandwiches, wraps, and pasta until 2 a.m.
A name like Houlihan's points to a menu of hearty comfort food, and although the eatery certainly has staples such as Cajun jambalaya and reuben sandwiches, it also has dishes not found in your typical American pub. Soy-glazed char-crusted ahi tuna and sesame-chicken salads show off Asian-inspired ingredients, and Italian dishes include chicken fettuccine alfredo dripping with three types of cheese and flatbread pizzas topped with roma tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella. Some meals can even be made with gluten-free ingredients.
Like the food, the drink menu is a mixture of old standbys?from Yuengling to Amstel Light?and new favorites such as Fat Tire and Angry Orchard Hard Cider, plus a variety of specialty cocktails. And a well-edited wine list provides options at all price points without making customers read a menu twice as long and three times as complicated as their last tax returns.