At Ben’s, the kitchen staff cures its own corned beef, as it has since 1972. Ron Dragoon opened the original location in Long Island, New York, before spreading his passion for deli and traditional Eastern European cuisine south to Florida. After taking a seat at a granite-topped table or booth in the bright dining room full of flowing, wave-like decorations, patrons put together meals from an all-kosher menu. Diners sip housemade chicken soup accessorized with a matzo ball, kreplach, or noodles as they guard their bowl from the unblinking gaze of a glass-etched Lady Liberty. Traditional kosher dishes include cabbage leaves stuffed with meat, and sandwiches are stacked high with cuts of beef brisket or tongue pickled on the premises. The staff provides complimentary kosher baby food for infants so they aren’t tempted to crawl into the kitchen to make their own matzo-ball soup.
Scattered pimento-like across the Boca Raton area, Mitch and Cory Shidlofsky's microcosmic Brooklyns serve teetering deli sandwiches and hearty breakfast fare. Every morning, diners tuck into 20 types of bagels, including egg, sunflower seed, pumpernickel, and marble, and slather them in cream-cheese flavors such as scallion, honey walnut, and strawberry. Sweeter options abound as well, including challah french toast, and Oreo pancakes that help children-at-heart relive their glory days when their heads were the size of cookies. Gloriously messy sandwiches star on the lunch menu—foremost among them the New Jersey sloppy joe, in which roast beef, corned beef, and turkey spill out from under russian dressing and coleslaw.
BackStreet Grille and Sports Bar's grill artists forge an array of flame-kissed dishes, which patrons tear into beneath a projection screen at the restaurant's bar. Half-pound USDA-certified burgers ($8.99–$9.99) waltz from the char grill sporting appetite-enhancing accessories as impressive as a boutonnière made of string cheese. The caesar burger brims with parmesan, bacon, and dressing ($9.99), and the South of the Border burger flaunts a crown of guacamole and salsa ($9.49). Diners spelunk the sauce-covered cliffs of wings ($9.99 for 10), which chefs bake and then fry in rice-bran oil, or boneless chicken tenders prone to avalanches in flavors such as Superman hot, teriyaki, and raspberry ($7.99). Grilled mahi mahi executes solo synchronized swimming routines through warm currents of Malibu rum sauce ($15.99) as diners recline in the restaurant's vast expanses of polished wood and earth-toned furnishings.
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.
Casa L’Italien’s Olympian–quality dough throwers flatten their creations into New York–style disks and slather on a blend of sauce and cheese engineered to complement a multitude of entrees prepared in the style of the old country. Customers can begin their gastro journey with a small or large pizza ($11.99–$13.99) and create splattered masterpieces with a multifarious array of toppings, including pepperoni, baked eggplant, roasted red peppers, and buffalo chicken ($1.50–$2 each). A series of signature pizzas piled high with leaning towers of harmonized toppings features such circular savories as the meat-and-veggie-loaded House Special ($15.99–$19.99). Calzones and subs such as the Steak Bomb philly cheesesteak ($7.29–$9.29) set off explosions of cheese in happy stomachs, and traditional favorites such as the baked eggplant parmigiana ($14.99) and chicken marsala ($16.99) recall simpler times spent sunburning in the Sicilian summer. Like an uncanny reincarnation of the hit TV show Cheers, Casa L’Italien serves cuisine so enthralling that you might not notice the eerie laugh track in the background.