In a space described by the owners as "rustic chic," Saporissimo’s chefs knead and roll out fresh pasta dough, shave pungent truffles, and prepare wild game to populate a menu that celebrates traditional Tuscan cuisine. Named a defender of Italian culinary excellence by the Italy-America chamber of commerce and praised in the Sun Sentinel for its “unobtrusive, yet attentive” service, Saporissimo seats its guests in chocolate-hued chairs next to white tablecloths in the dining room of what used to be a private house. From the muted yellow walls, sunlight streams through windows during the day to alight on plates of Italian cuisine that Miami's Italian consul general has recognized as authentic, including antipasti of duck-breast carpaccio or a truffled polenta with wild-boar ragu.
Strings of party lights along the ceiling create a warm, low-lit atmosphere at night, encouraging intimate conversations and clandestine swaps of microfiche between bites of pappardelle with wild-boar sausage or wild rabbit braised with wine, garlic, and peppers. Inset into an exposed-brick wall, a six-pane window augments the feeling of dining in a private Tuscan home.
For John Offerdahl, the aroma of meat sizzling on the grill stirs memories of his family's barbecues in rural Wisconsin. Even when John grew up and became a linebacker for the Miami Dolphins, he couldn't escape that enticing smell?it would waft into the stadium from fans tailgating outside and the mascots who secretly stuffed their costumes with cheeseburgers. So it was only natural that, after retiring from football, John would once again find himself at the grill when he and his wife Lynn opened Offerdahl's Cafe Grill in 2000. The couple were no strangers to the restaurant business; they had previously owned a chain of bagel shops. This venture, however, would prove more ambitious?they devised menus of classic American cuisine that could be served up fast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a focus on fresh-grilled fare.
Today, Offerdahl's Cafe Grill has expanded to seven locations, but its flavorful, no-frills meals remain the same. "Johnny O's Famous Bagels" still take the starring roles during breakfast, waking diners up with flavors like cinnamon crumb, pumpernickel, and fruit-and-nut. But once breakfast turns to lunch and dinner, the grill takes over. Chefs swiftly cook up steak, chicken, and salmon, serving the proteins over rice, pasta, or salad with homemade dressings. They also grill chicken sandwiches and burgers, in a nod to the caf?'s backyard barbecue roots.
Hailed as the best new restaurant in Palm Beach County by New Times Broward-Palm Beach, Kapow! Noodle Bar's executive chef Caleb Holman creates Asian-inspired comfort food using locally-sourced ingredients. The kitchen churns out a flavor-packed menu that blends Vietnamese, Korean, and French elements. The beef yukke—a small plate of Korean-style beef tartare—combines truffled brioche crisps with kimchee and wasabi sour cream. Ramen noodles welcome the flavors of meat, veggies, and soft-boiled eggs. For dessert, cinnamon-sugar and banana caramel sauce sweeten vanilla cheesecake spring rolls.
While bartenders mix cocktails and pour craft beers, diners eat near a 28-foot mural created by self-taught tattoo artist Michael “Pooch” Pucciarelli. As the woman in the painting raises a bowl of noodles, mountains and waterways backdrop billows of steam and colorful butterflies. This mural encapsulates the Indochine vibe sought after by restaurateurs Scott Frielich, Vaughan Lazar, and Rodney Mayo. A designer as well as an owner, Rodney furnished the restaurant with reclaimed wood tables and a 25-foot bar made with sorghum straw that extends onto an outdoor patio. These rustic accouterments continue the sustainable approach that the owners have taken in previous restaurants, such as Dada, The Dubliner, and Pizza Fusion.
When Dean Lavallee opened the first Park Avenue BBQ in 1988, he had one lofty mission in mind: to serve the best barbecue ever made. Despite the seemingly impossible nature of his goal, he and his team continue to rise to the challenge, dry-rubbing their meats to smoke and char-grill on-site. They use all-natural, grain-fed, domestic pork for their traditional and Carolina-style barbecue pork—pulled by hand—and only use fresh, never-frozen ribs that are smoked daily over hickory. As diners chow down on hearty homestyle sides, seafood platters, or buffalo wings tossed in one of six sauces, they can admire the dining room's pictures of their city's most prominent people, places, and robot mayors.
Park Avenue BBQ arranges their meats into fun, hearty dishes such as the Dempublican sandwich, which combines smoked pork and beef brisket separated only by cheese and bacon to create a sizeable sandwich that the team has dubbed "porkalicious". They whip up Funnybonz, which look and taste like miniature ribs, using tender, lean pork that's prepared by cooking up regular ribs beneath a shrink ray. In 2008, their dedication to each dish caused Cityvoter's users to name Park Avenue BBQ the best barbecue in town.
Carrying a pita, a diner approaches a salad bar brimming with pickled condiments, crunchy vegetables, and sauces. Without paying or even speaking to someone behind the counter, the diner lifts the spoon and festoons the pita with a pile of fresh toppings, ready to start the meal anew. At most restaurants, this could get you kicked out, but at Maoz Vegetarian, it’s not only overlooked, but also encouraged. After choosing from such vegetarian and vegan-friendly options as gluten-free falafel and fried eggplant, pita wraps or salads head to the stainless-steel salad bar. Belgian fries—a thick-cut version of their french cousins—and mounds of sweet-potato fries complement sandwiches and salads along with green-chili sauce, tahini sauce, and salsa for dipping and boosting the self-esteem of napkins.
While feasting, diners sit atop benches at long, shared tables that emulate the communal lunch joints of old in the unabashedly modern chain of restaurants, founded in Amsterdam two decades ago. Mirroring the eatery’s fresh, stylish food, the interior at Maoz features green tiled walls and steel fixtures illuminated by hanging lamps and baby pictures of supernovas.
At the center of Playtown Cafe’s child-size indoor town, servers escort gourmet sandwiches, wraps, and flatbreads to parents and kids seated at café tables. As their parents continue to munch and mingle, children frolic in and out of small storefronts painted in bright colors, pretending to run a bakery, create masterpieces in an art gallery, and shoplift from La Boutique. Youngsters dress up as superheroes and princesses in the boutique; play air hockey, arcade games, and dual Nintendo Wiis inside the garage; and manipulate a train set in the building zone, which is designed to resemble an unfinished house.
To burn off boundless stores of energy, kids can cross the play-city’s traffic-free road to cavort in a turf-floored indoor park, where staffers monitor them as they scale climbing walls, cross blue climbing bars, and shoot down wavy orange slides. Playtown’s staffers show an additional commitment to safety as they oversee a separate play area and ball pit designed just for toddlers, which is free of boogie monsters.