Pastas, olive oils, and tomato sauces imported from Italy line the aisles of Noto's Italian Deli, giving shoppers all they need to prepare authentic Italian cuisine at home. But many patrons prefer to leave the food preparation to the cooks behind the deli counter. Starting at 6 a.m., those cooks fry eggs for breakfast sandwiches and omelets brimming with pastrami, homemade italian sausage, and other savory ingredients. Later in the day, the focus shifts to sandwiches piled with italian meats, housemade stuffed lasagna, homemade italian sausage, chicken marsala, and specials such as Black and Bleu philly cheesesteaks. Patrons quench their thirst with natural fruit juices and fresh fruit-flavored waters.
For close to two decades, the chefs at Pasta Cucina have used tried-and-true recipes as the blueprints for their classic Italian dishes. Manager Mario Espana and his team make bellies feel like they’re part of the family with comforting plates of veal parmigiana, fettuccine carbonara with imported prosciutto, and traditional ravioli prepared with a modern twist of ingredients, including jalapeños and brandy cream sauce. Exposed-brick accents and paintings depicting rustic Italian scenery whisk diners to the Old World and create an environment more inviting than a cliff leading to a giant pile of pillows.
If you're not sure what you have a taste for when you walk in the door of Portobello Cafe, it'll probably take you awhile to decide. The dinner menu challenges timid eaters with more than 75 menu items, predominantly Italian-style dishes such as veal saltimbocca and rosemary-crusted rack of lamb. There are some playfully international dishes as well, such as Italian egg rolls stuffed with broccoli rabe and parmesan risotto. Folks can always leave the decisions up to the professionals, however, with prix fixe dinners. During the day there's an equally extensive lunch menu to ensure that none of the meals think the chef is playing favorites.
In the kitchen at Gaetano's Grill, cooks slide well-seasoned pizzas out of a brick oven and put the finishing touches on burgers made with prime sirloin, putting together feasts of Italian and American favorites. Like a ball gown made out of a sleeping bag, the surroundings are simultaneously fancy and comfortable: the Uptown Lounge rings with cheers and the sounds of karaoke and football shown on HDTV, and the sun-filled patio is filled with the scents of prosciutto-stuffed pollo novella and savory New York Strip steak. Guests sip frosty draft beers as they dig their forks into hearty baked ziti and penne vodka or chow down on Bronx-style pizzas topped with fresh garlic, pepperoni, and meatballs.
Sal's soothes grumbling hunger tubs with its eclectic entourage of edibles, including pizza, specialty pies, calzones, seafood, and other Italian favorites. Anchor incisors on the buffalo-chicken pizza's mozzarella shores ($16/small, $18/large), or tune taste knobs to the egg-battered frequencies of the eggplant parmigiana, which dons a jaunty dressing of mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce ($13.50). Patrons of the noodled arts can commission a meal from Sal's pasta offerings, and garden grubbers can slip into some serious leafage with a bevy of salad selections.
Over the tops of neatly groomed conifers, the muted drizzle of a fountain loops over a still pond. Glancing out from the dining room of Seasons American Bistro & Lounge, away from the lofted beams and white tablecloths, the eye drifts out across the water and to the verdant rolling hills crowded with ancient trees. Inspired by the bistros and tapas bars of Europe, the menu at Seasons highlights shareable plates, which circulate during long chats measured in glasses of wine. From the ranks of bottles spring the floral bouquet of the Italian Alverdi pinot grigio and the earthy plum notes and Napa Valley sunshine of the 2005 Markham merlot. The sound of toasting glasses drifts through a bar and lounge with small tables and a wrap-around banquette decorated with cut flowers and candles that set the mood and keep somebody from setting down a cornucopia there.