Cousin Pete had a friendly face and knack for remembering names, while cousin Charles had a sharp eye for details and a head for business. But they both had a taste for good Italian food, so it was only natural they would join forces. That’s how Mangia Pizza Restaurant, with its BYOB approach and a menu of Italian favorites, was born—and with a little help from their years of restaurateur and customer-service experience.
Today, it's not uncommon to see cousin Pete meandering his way around the big booths in the brightly lit space, introducing himself to newcomers, swapping jokes with regulars, and discussing local politics with all the babies. As he bustles about the dining room, his chefs are hard at work in the kitchen tossing crispy Neapolitan and Sicilian-style pies with gourmet ingredients such as buffalo chicken and eggplant rollatini. They also layer crunchy paninis with fresh mozzarella, roasted turkey, and grilled chicken, and fold chicken, veal, and seafood into a time-honored dishes that make Mangia a place for not only attentive service, but for good eats.
Walking into Ruppert's, one might expect to see fedora-clad patrons hunkered over their scotches at the rich, dark-wood bar. That’s because the restaurant strives to emulate old New York City bistros and diners from the 1930's and 40's. This nod to the past also surfaces in its name, which comes from Colonel Jacob Ruppert—the owner of the New York Yankees during the Babe Ruth era.
Like the city they take their inspiration from, Ruppert's cooks meld the international with the classically American. These kitchen staffers looked to the north when coming up with the Canadian Mountie burger, and tapped into their inner island dwellers when developing the Jamaican burger, which they top with cold watermelon relish, grilled pineapple, and jack cheese. They also serve up classic, no-frills dishes, such as tuna melts on New York rye and Top Hat Chicken. As diners enjoy theses inventive or traditional spreads, they can tap their two-toned brogues to live entertainment ranging from Elvis impersonators to Lou Pallo, a former member of the Les Paul Trio.
The Little Food Cafe’s cooks assemble sauce-slathered chicken-pesto press sandwiches, fresh salads, and mile-high meatloaf in a charming café setting. Midday hunger pangs meet their match in refreshing entrees such as the avocado club, a bacon-and-avocado bundle that fires up tongues more than trilling the first words of their high-school fight song. Greens include Italian-style salads strewn with bite-size eggplant and provolone and taco salads adorned with ground turkey, cheddar, tomato, avocado, and tortilla strips. Alternately, evening eaters can avail themselves of appetizers such as meat-filled rice balls, fish such as honey-dijon-glazed salmon, and down-home entrees such as mile-high meatloaf.
The chefs at Muscle Maker Grill put a healthy spin on flavorful dishes inspired by Italian, Asian, American, and southwestern cuisines. The chain was founded in 1995 by Rod Silva, a fitness enthusiast who grew weary of fast-food eateries that bogged customers down with unhealthy morsels and toys sculpted from butter. What began as a smoothie stand has expanded into a successful franchise that slings pastas, burgers, salads, and Tex-Mex wraps and proudly displays the calorie content and relationship status of each dish on the menu.
A&A Fine Foods, which first opened its doors in 1992, helps customers line their pantry shelves or banquet tables with gourmet comestibles the likes of meat, bread, cookies, olive oil, cheese, and pasta. Behind gleaming display cases of hormone-free chicken and Boar's Head meats, A&A's butchers prepare homemade italian sausage and slice marbled cuts of grass-fed beef with the steady hands of a brain surgeon playing Jenga. The deli's staff can accommodate lunchtime cravings or catering requests by ladling bowls of house-made soups out of its percolating cauldrons and crafting hearty sandwiches or wraps with such ingredients as grilled eggplant and imported provolone.
Since 1985, Anthony Marra has treated patrons to the same traditional eats that he grew up with, based on recipes brought from Italy by his Nonna Rose and Papa Tony. Each day his deli tables populate with prosciutto, broccoli rabe, and sundried tomatoes in gourmet sandwiches, many available hot or cold, and side dishes such as meatballs, sweet fryer peppers, and seasonal stuffed artichokes complement hand-tossed, gooey pizzas in a variety of sizes. For those seeking catering for a private party, Marra’s offers traditional Italian pastas and meats sautéed in wine by the tray-full, or by the bathtub-full for those seeking to be fully immersed in Italian culture.