The sound of fire. The igniting exhalation before the steady breath of the flame sustains. The heat pulsing steadily outward from the steel grill—you feel it on your glowing face. But the chef looks cool. He’s a master, after all; a flat, metal spatula in one hand and an enormous, sharp knife in the other. Kani House’s teppanyaki tables are no strangers to the action of hibachi, where these chefs entertain their guests before plating seared steak and scallops alongside fresh, sautéed vegetables. The steady sushi masters may not share their compatriots’ outward exuberance, but their work is just as delicious. From behind their long bar, they assemble maki cylinders with tender cuts of fatty tuna and bright salmon, artfully arranging cuts of more than 50 specialty rolls in the shape of gentle caterpillars or fearsome members of the Japanese Diet. Bright bamboo panels and natural stone add to the vibrant ambiance, surrounding diners with dark-wood and nuanced accents that keep the focus on the beauty of excellent cuisine.
Hailing from opposite ends of the country, Chef McDowell from Los Angeles and local culinary guru Chef Raffi team up to craft their Mediterranean menu amid warm, golden hues and live weekend entertainment. Using regional ingredients in many of their dishes, the duo layers flavors to bring their guests a taste of the Mediterranean's signatures, including lamb, polenta, kebabs, and a variety of seafood. As belly dancers shimmy and sparkle between tables each Saturday evening, diners sip wines such as Chateau Ste. Michelle's cabernet sauvignon from the eatery's carefully compiled wine list while savoring a tapas plate of crispy, caramelized pork or an entree of baked, boneless roasted lamb. For special occasions or a simple get-together with friends, the restaurant's patio invites groups to partake in the indulgence of a hookah while relishing the open-air ambiance and cheshire grins of mischievous squirrels.
Since founding Riverside Pizza in Lawrenceville in 1999, Al and Sandy Thompson have expanded their pizzeria business to a total of nine locations across the Atlanta area. The Thompsons oversee each shop, ensuring that pizza chefs top the day's dough with homemade sauce and real cheese grated by real cows. Besides loading pizzas with everything from sausage and mushrooms to barbecue chicken, the Riverside crew assembles roast beef, club, and Italian–style sandwiches alongside caesar and greek salads.
At Havana South Restaurant and Bar, a conga line of authentic Cuban entrees parades out of the kitchen, transporting diners to the Caribbean with dishes such as picadillo a la Cubana and ropa vieja in criolle sauce. The chef draws on his culinary experience to populate the menu with true Cuban cuisine.
Meanwhile, drink enthusiasts can marvel at servers using guava, mango, and passion fruit to brew up refreshing batches of house-made mojitos. The tropical flavor carries over to the eatery's decor as well. A life-size painting of palm trees and domino players on the beach may fool diners into thinking that they're dining on the coast, whereas crimson-hued walls compliment heated salsa nights that are speckled throughout the eatery?s event schedule. Spanish music constantly pours from the speakers, inspiring guests to get up and dance, a practice encouraged by the staff.
At Buckhead Pizza Co.'s two locations kitchens bustle as chefs simmer house-made sauce and bake Atlanta-style thin-crust pizzas to a golden brown in 500-degree ovens. They toss fresh regular, whole-wheat, and gluten-free dough and make each pie to order before covering it in signature toppings such as Atlanta steak with caramelized onions and blue cheese. The charming pizzeria also fills cherry-wood tables with crispy flatbreads, calzones, and bubbling pans of lasagna. Diners take a break from the sun and his unreasonable demands for pizza sacrifices under the outdoor patio's awning, enjoying breezy sunset dinners or cocktail hours filled with frosty brews and red and white wines from the full bar.
Diners take a whiff of grilled meats and slide into dark-wood booths upon entering Famous Joes, waiting to be greeted by the chilly handshake of a cold glass of beer and the calming glow of baseball games emanating from the 21 42-inch flat-screen TVs hung on terra-cotta-colored walls. As a karaoke singer croons on, chefs pull ribs and pork from a 12-hour marinade, toss glistening chicken wings in 16 varieties of sauce, and hand-sculpt ground beef into half-pound patties and busts of Woodrow Wilson. Behind a row of stools, bartenders pour from 10 drafts and 30 bottled beers hailing from domestic and overseas breweries.