Within the inviting milieu of a family-owned eatery, Pizza Gourmet's disc forgers bake hand-tossed pizzas topped with such epicurean ingredients as gruyere and whole roasted garlic cloves. The Five Star pizza ($15.50−$21.75) mixes it up with a blend of five cheeses including fontina, feta, and parmesan, and the elegant Barcelona pizza ($17.75−$23.95) evokes Spain’s cultural capital with seasoned chicken and artichoke hearts, brought to the table by stampeding bulls. Patrons can garnish a plain New York–style pizza ($11.50−$15.50) with a slew of sauces ($2−$3) including barbecue, ranch, or salsa; herbs and vegetables ($1−$1.50) such as cilantro, basil, and zucchini; meats ($1−$1.50); and 23 specialty toppings such as yellow squash and bleu cheese ($2−$3). Pies are available in 12-inch or 16-inch varieties and can be ordered without cheese.
Over the course of 20 years, Checkers Bistro's cuisine architects have designed a menu of Italian fare, constructing breads, dressings, and sauces from scratch. Sun-dried cranberries and candied walnuts burst from plump butternut-squash ravioli, slathered in shallot cream sauce, surprising its smoked-chicken roommate ($16). A Mediterranean entourage of pesto, feta, olives, and pine nuts escorts the greek pizza ($10 for 6", $13.50 for 9", $20 for 14") to a mozzarella-skirted red carpet teeming with sun-dried tomato starlets and artichoke-heart heartthrobs. Couple the prosciutto-wrapped scallops ($18) or fiery thai noodle salad ($12) with a hearty serving of Checkers' customer-lauded tomato-basil soup ($3.50 for cup, $5.25 for bowl). The elegant, airy restaurant opens into an outdoor seating area where imbibers bathe in the fruity billows of Checkers' revamped wine offerings, doled out by the glass, bottle, or 10-gallon hat.
Named for the iconic director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, the Francis Ford Coppola Winery gratifies grape groupies with a wide array of virtuosic vinos. Pirouette your way into the Bottling Ballet Mechanique tour for a chance to examine the winery’s bottling process, which is exactly the same process used to bottle model ships. From the huge barrels of grape soup in which wines are born to the priceless glass containers into which they’re packaged, the 45-minute tour—which takes its name from the way each bottle shimmies and pirouettes down the line—gives guests the chance to see and more fully comprehend how wine comes to take its uniformly bottle-like shape. Visitors also learn the back-stories behind the winery’s labels and take part in a palate-expanding tasting, completing the beautiful circle of libationary life.
Between Bosko's Trattoria’s exposed stone walls, ruby-hued booths and tables showcase sandwiches stacked high, fresh pastas made daily, and pizzas baked to a golden finish in a wood-fired oven. Chefs bake house-made focaccia garlic bread to commence culinary adventures, as well the burrata appetizer. Artfully crafted tiramisu and cheesecake cap off meals, which the wait staff serve under a hanging mirror and lighting that, like a sack of potatoes recently crushed by a piano, is soft. Libation connoisseurs top off glasses with beer, coffee, and your choice from 30 wine selections.
Barolo, a casual, rustic eatery, supports local artisanal food producers by using their wares to create contemporary versions of timeless Italian fare, such as the Bellwhether Farms ricotta ravioli, filled with wilted spinach, pine nuts, and topped with roasted tomato cream. Start with the truffle fries before diving mouth-first into Italian standbys such as eggplant parmesan, shrimp pappardelle, and mushroom pizza. The extensive wine list is rife with local options from the region and 50 miles above the region on a floating sky vineyard. The rich décor and soft lighting coupled with music make Barolo great for a date, unlike a moonlit dinner at the DMV. See the website for Barolo's menu and pricing.