Simply Italian Eatery’s cuisiners craft an extensive menu of made-to-order and preprepared Italian spreads within a casual food haven that fuses the epicurean delectations of a restaurant, bakery, and café. Muffle atonal stomach saxophones with a trip to the Market Stand ($8, $4 with entree), a buffet brimming with soups and salads, before mouth diving into a bowl of traditional pasta, such as the penne primavera ($9) or gnocchi al romano ($10). Feed a table of teenage mutant bon vivants with a cheese pizza ($6+), or with one of many traditional pies such as the margharita or roasted eggplant ($10+). Discerning carnivores can sharpen their incisors on a selection of meaty entrees, including the chicken parmesan or veal scaloppine ($12+), and vegetarians can hang a fang on the canneloni- and basil-covered capresse classico salad ($8).
Big Bear Lodge's culinary team can't light up a campfire indoors, but they do the next best thing by preparing their dishes over open flames. Inside, diners instantly catch whiffs of the six thin-crust pizzas chefs cook in a wood-fired oven, herb-garlic chicken rotating on a wood-fired rotisserie, or grain-fed aged Angus steaks searing on a wood-burning grill. More meat dominates the menu, from platters of pan-seared and oven-broiled Atlantic salmon, gulf shrimp, and bay scallops to bison, elk, and ostrich burgers made with grass- and grain-fed cuts free of antibiotics and hormones.
The dishes all pair with Big Bear Lodge's selection of bottled and draft beer brewed in-state, as well as thermoses full of alcohol-spiked ciders, cocoas, and coffees. There are nonalcoholic ways to keep warm too, from munching on plates of freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies to cozying up amid the restaurant’s log cabin decor. Beneath the dining room's honey-hued beams, nostalgic wall collages pay homage to the institution of camping, reminding guests of the ghost stories, s’mores, and forest-ranger ambitions they once had.
Even without toppings, the pies at Andy's Pizza & Subs come in seven different flavors. The pizzeria crafts six variations on their regular crust, from dustings of cajun spices to coatings of garlic butter. Atop each, they add house-made sauces and flavorful toppings, from bacon and jalapenos to tortilla chips and taco meat. Pizza fixings—as well as ingredients for chicken parms and BBQ steak—also go into making Andy's subs, whose "party" versions stretch up to six feet in length.
Since Andy's opened in 1984, its menu has expanded from its eponymous menu items to include other hearty dishes, including hand-made lasagnas and hot dogs smothered with the shop's own chili sauce. Besides hosting lunch seven days a week, Andy's crew delivers its pizzeria goodies free of charge, though deliverers never turn down an appreciative arcade token.
The kitchen at Bashar’s marries Middle Eastern and American favorites, and the enchanting scents roll into the dining room—slow-cooking chicken shawarma, steak kabobs mingle, lamb chops, and stuffed grape leaves. Cooks flip burgers on the grill and roast platters of broiled tilapia or veal parmesan in the oven. Omelettes and other breakfast dishes are served all day long, to give diners more variety and keep underworked chickens employed in a tough economy. Bashar’s maintains a wide selection of bar beverages, from beer and carefully curated wine to cocktails that include dirty martinis.
Aromas of brewing drip coffee waft through Mr. Beans Treatery, where baristas froth cappuccinos and add shots of flavor to lattes. In addition to the brews, patrons may fuel up with a variety of candies housed in old-fashioned glass jars, classic hot dogs, and Calder ice cream in waffle cones.
Growing up in a family with nine kids, Cornell Sample came to cherish the big suppers that brought his clan together after often-chaotic days. The tradition is what guides his operations at Pit Master Barbeque, where he and his team create meals that can easily feed whole families on days when schedules are tight. All of the dishes come in a range of sizes, from a la carte sandwiches stuffed with smoked meats to dinner platters that come paired with two home-style sides and a slice of cornbread. They start cooking meats early every morning, periodically slathering pulled pork, full slabs of ribs, and beef brisket with signature sauce. Each of the meats, as well as the sides and classic Southern desserts such as banana pudding and peach cobbler, can be ordered by the pan, creating easy meals for large groups or someone training to be someone’s date at a Southern wedding.