On a Bronx street lined with Italian restaurants, one fa?ade stands out?the one with a streetside bar under a shady awning, and a dense gathering of exotic plants and excited diners. This fa?ade belongs to Havana Cafe, which the 2013 and 2014 Michelin Guide honored with a Bib Gourmand award recognizing the inspectors? favorites for good value. PIX-11 confirmed the restaurant's status as a neighborhood staple during a 2011 Bronx Restaurant Week profile, noting that it?s ?become famous fast for serving great food in a welcoming atmosphere.?
Smells of Cuban and Latin-American cooking spill out from an intimate dining room, and, in the kitchen, a custom brick oven burns through shovelfuls of bricks under the direction of Chef Alex Garcia. Chef Alex designs modern interpretations of classic dishes, resulting in cultural collisions such as brick-oven pizza topped with beef picadillo and piquillo peppers. Straightforward renditions of Latin flavors abound as well, in the form of adobo-rubbed shrimp, churrasco-style grilled steaks, and sides and sauces made with tropical produce such as plantains, mango, and yuca.
When cool weather forces the french doors closed, groups snuggle up with their mojitos in leather-cushioned chairs beneath brick pillars and exposed rafters. Behind plush red banquettes, murals commemorate a hazy Cuban past lined with shiny classic cars and balconies leaning convivially over narrow city streets.
The chefs at T.C. Island Restaurant & Lounge fuse big, bold Spanish and Latin American flavors into small plates. Their inventive tapas are sized for sharing, tempting sneaked seconds with vegetarian-friendly options such as the patatas bravas and canoa rellena, hot options such as coconut shrimp in a creamy coconut sauce, and cold edibles accented with creative combinations of spices and sauces. Diners may opt to order larger entrees, many of which feature seafood fresh from the piers of City Island. The festive atmosphere continues in the lounge and bar, which daily features bubbling hookahs and a cheekily named happy hour that runs from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday nights are scored with a soundtrack of karaoke, and Fridays and Saturdays host belly-dance performances.
Surrounded on all sides by the waters of Eastchester Bay, it's no wonder that The Black Whale's chefs add undersea favorites to their menu of homestyle comfort food. Maryland crab cakes with roasted-red-pepper sauce share table space with grilled New York Sirloin with mashed potatoes, and the Starving Artist platter marries orecchiette pasta with white beans and fresh mozzarella. Omelet and belgian-waffle stations serve up sustenance at the Sunday brunch buffet. Meals unfold in nautical-minded dining rooms or the back garden, which flaunts sun-drenched trees and a stone fountain instead of the more traditional sculpture of the patio?s bricklayer.
Ohana Japanese Hibachi Seafood & Steakhouse's cooks flip and fire hibachi delicacies tableside, grilling lobster tail and sirloin steak in a sizzling fire show. At the chic bar, bartenders pluck bottles from backlit shelves. Pours of cold and hot sake, plum wine, or specialty drinks such as the chocolate martini complement each succulent dish. After lunch or dinner, a lounge area seats patrons on burgundy couches amid touches of Japanese decor. As DJs spin tunes, flat-screen TVs offset the timeless elegance of shoji screens, whose panels of rice paper and lack of commercials once entertained the Japanese nobility for hours at a time.
Founded in 1954 by James McLamore and David Edgerton, Burger King rapidly expanded from humble beginnings as a lone burger joint to more than 12,400 locations across 79 countries today, making it the second-largest fast-food-hamburger chain in the world. Its signature burger—the Whopper—consists of one to three flame-broiled, quarter-pound beef patties crowned with a miniature fedora and a fully customizable array of toppings such as tomatoes, onions, and dill pickles. Focused on continual improvement, the chain recently reinvented the fries that accompany each value meal, outfitting the spud slices with a thicker cut of potato for a fluffier texture on the inside and crispier golden-brown exterior. A spread of decadent desserts including dutch apple pie and an Oreo sundae keeps sweet teeth from elongating into fangs, and made-to-order breakfast sandwiches clasp eggs, american cheese, and bacon, sausage, or ham between two halves of a flaky croissant to round out the speedy menu.
Christina Marotto takes the time to truly capture each of her subjects’ unique personalities, prompting them with her motto, “If a photo is worth a thousand words, what will yours say?” A look at her work substantiates this claim, as her photos are filled with laughing children, smiling faces, and joyous couples lost in each other’s eyes. Christina also hones her patience as a Girl Scout troop leader, using her skills to corral children during family photo shoots and individual portrait sessions. When she isn’t racing down hills on her skis, Christina might be photographing them in her travel photography album, which also includes landscapes of Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, Freedom Tower, and the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower.