The chefs at Umami Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar slice and dice a fine selection of fresh ingredients into a wide variety of sushi rolls, sashimi, and gourmet Asian fare. The sushi menu features more than 40 specialty rolls, including the Molten Lava roll (a california roll wrapped with salmon and baked with dynamite sauce, $14) and the Outer Banks roll (a fried spicy-tuna roll with teriyaki sauce, $12). For cooked cuisine, opt for the Yakisoba ($10+), chicken curry ($14), or sweet & sour flounder ($16), each served with soup or salad. Umami’s dinner menu also includes a variety of hibachi plates and combination platters served with diner's choice of veggies, meat, seafood, or astronaut food.
Domino's recently reformulated its pizza recipe, which puts the buyer in command of a plentitude of pie-personalizing possibilities. Test the sturdiness of a hand-tossed thin crust with mounds of hearty marinara, ham, chicken, green peppers, black olives, and spinach, or fill a deep-dish foundation with alfredo sauce, bacon, onions, jalapeños, fresh mushrooms, and banana peppers. While delicious design options stretch into infinity like a taffy pull in a black hole, the eatery's specialty pizzas make choosing more manageable. Peruse pies like the MeatZZa Feast, which is piled high with pepperoni, ham, italian sausage, beef, and extra mozzarella, and the Pacific Veggie, a flashy West Coast–concoction of roasted red peppers, spinach, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, black olives, feta, mozzarella, and provolone.
The anytime meal house originated as a natural-foods grocery in the late '70s, a time when you could still find lettuce that wasn't in a can. Since moving the store to a bright, capacious space with high ceilings and massive windows, owner Mimi Pearson has expanded the shop to included a kitchen and dining room. Stop in for breakfast and enjoy a bowl of organic vanilla yogurt swimming with fresh fruit ($5.95) or a quiche of the day made with free-range eggs and served with pineapple, grapes, and a meat or veggie selection ($5–$5.50). Midday grub includes salads, such as a Greek starring crostini with tapenade ($7 for a large, $5 small) or organic leaf garden salad ($5 large, $4 small). Diners can also expect to find sandwiches, served on bread of choice (black Russian, Vienna white, rye, sunflower, multi-grain wheat, or sourdough). Try the smoked turkey and provolone ($6.25) or veggie-friendly avocado club (smoked mozzarella, red onion, tomato vinaigrette, and avocado, $7.75). Dinner, served every night excluding Sunday, includes the famed burritos made with brown rice, black beans, white cheddar cheese, and your choice of salsa ($11–$13).
At Bella Donna Italian Restaurant, duos rest amid Tuscan-themed décor and munch on house-made pastas and sauces or gourmet custom pizzas, crafted from seasonally-available local ingredients. Tongues lift their anchors and embark on culinary voyages with starters such as the dozen deep-fried chicken wings, slathered in a mix of house-made hot, medium, or mild wing sauce and served with blue cheese or ranch dressing. Then, diners settle in for entrees such as the muffalatta, in which parmesan-sprinkled pizza dough bears italian olive salad, ham, and salami. The Tuscan chicken, sautéed with parmesan cheese and lemon sauce, arrives to tables lounging on a bed of pasta under a chic coverlet of baby spinach. Meanwhile, spaghetti tossed in slow-cooked tomato sauce pairs with two hefty meatballs, showcasing an Italian staple that will completely jam a staple gun. Dinners draw to a close with a Nutella and ricotta calzone or other confection from the mouthwatering dessert menu. Gluten-free options are also available, including carrot cake and pasta.
Old World recipes collide with New World ingredients at Casa Carini, whose chefs craft traditional Italian dishes with produce culled from North Carolina growers. Tomatoes fresh from the vine bring robust flavor to the house marinara and pizza sauces; one bite of pizza or handcrafted lasagna proves that the restaurant’s efforts to seek out local vegetables are well advised.
Aside from these and other Italian staples, the kitchen specializes in seafood dishes that range from clam-topped pasta to fried shrimp. An extensive selection of beers and wines proves a worthy match for the lengthy menu, and the dining room echoes during dinner hours with the pleasant ringing of just-clinked glasses. This soundtrack finds its visual complement in a series of wall murals that depict peaceful scenes of Italian fields and lions purring in the Roman Coliseum’s petting zoo.