Tavolino is Italian for "little table." Noticing the trend of careless service and cooking that pervaded so many chain restaurants, the folks at Tavolino wanted to create a different kind of space—one where the chefs searched for the freshest local ingredients possible and where each "little table" felt supremely cared for. In addition to making their own breads and pastas, the staff infuses their own alcohols with fruits, herbs, and vegetables. The wine list was curated just as carefully, giving diners plenty of reasons to linger in the contemporary, earth-toned space complete with tile mosaic floors.
The crispy pizzas and artfully sauced pastas back up an entree selection that ranges from grilled lamb loin chops to stuffed italian meatloaf made with sweet sausage and served with housemade tomato-basil ketchup. A separate gluten-free menu ensures diners with special diets feel at home, just as the various seafood dishes on the regular menu ensure mermaids feel at home. In his search for the freshest flavors, executive chef Brian Boudreau frequently mixes up the menu with seasonal offerings; butternut-squash tortellacci, for example, summons the flavors of fall with brown-butter-sage sauce, dried cranberries, and an apple-cider glaze.
At first glance, Guru Bar & Grill gives off the impression of a cozy pub considering its exposed brick walls and dim lighting. But deeper inside, the aromatic scent of exotic spices that fills the air clues diners in on Guru's specialty: Indian cuisine. From marinated-chicken masala and lamb curry to spicy shrimp vindaloo and vegetarian aloo gobhi, diners can enjoy a spread of authentic Indian eats for lunch and dinner. Inside the clay oven, 15 types of bread heat up, including potato- and herb-stuffed naan and whole wheat roti. For a sweet ending, servers hand over treats such as mango ice cream and housemade rice pudding infused with cardamom flavors.
Native North Enders Vinnie Amato and Steve Costa opened Cafe Porto Bello to revisit the Italian cuisine of their childhoods and re-create the atmosphere of dinners with family. For more than a decade, the café's chefs have prioritized freshness by preparing every dish to order with spices blended in-house and by garnishing gourmet, hand-tossed pizzas with their own roasted red peppers. The dining room is warm and softly lit, with sturdy wooden tables and seating for up to 100. In the adjacent lounge, bartenders pour Italian and American varietals in syncopation or ragtime with live jazz sets.
At Scorpio's, adept culinary artists handcraft robust pizzas, saucy pastas, and savory entrees from zesty spices, an array of organic ingredients, and signature family recipes. Hand-tossed pizzas are made to order with a choice of toppings, such as roasted garlic, artichoke hearts, and house-made meatballs, whirling from piping hot ovens to fill plates with cheesy slices of Sicilian-style pie ($13.99+). Or, opt for one of the restaurant's specialty selections, such as an onion- and mozzarella-slathered barbecue chicken pizza ($13.99 for a large) or the self-named Scorpio, which combines pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, green peppers, onions ($14.99 for a large), and an affinity for long walks on the beach into one hard-to-resist dish.
Papa John's has been popping out perfectly personalized pies 'round the clock for more than 25 years, arranging a lineup of specialty pizzas and sides on a munificent menu. Patrons can bedeck dough disks with carnivorous confetti in the form of pepperoni, ham, spicy italian sausage, bacon, sausage, beef, or grilled chicken. Golden-voiced fresh vegetables make palates swoon with a jukebox's selection of green peppers, portobello mushrooms, roma tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, onions, black olives, pineapple, banana peppers, and newly harvested 45s. Eaters can prod cooks with the click of a mouse, alerting them to special requests such as an extra layer of parmesan romano or the three-cheese blend of the asiago, fontina, and provolone. Like a popular club or an especially bangin’ fireplace store, Papa John's stays open late, making it an opportune place to stock up for impromptu pajama jams and uncontrollable sleep-feasting.
The coal-fired oven at Rock N' Coal Pizza fires out Italian favorites that fuse flavors from both the Old World and the New. Chefs specialize in both classic Neapolitan pizzas—such as the shrimp and vodka sauce pie—as well as the more modern New York style pizza topped with toppings such as buffalo chicken. But guests don't have to stick to just modern or traditional. They can combine both styles with the menu's build-your-own-pizza option. Guests can choose to build their own prime beef burger, too, or select one of the chef's gourmet combination such as the bistro burger—a patty topped with bacon, cheddar, and a fried egg.
In the massive main room, flatscreen televisions hang over booths casting a warm glow over meals and broadcasting the day's biggest games. The main room may be a destination for sports fans, but Rock N' Coal's private room gives guests a chance to celebrate special occasions or plan their next move in a rapidly escalating prank war.