Influenced by Italian and Spanish flavors, Milonga Argentine Steakhouse aliments appetites with an authentic menu of certified Angus beef grilled over imported Argentine wood and house-made pastas. Servers seat diners beneath the wooden beamed ceiling and coax out appetites with openers such as the homemade empanadas ($5 for two) that employ the heat of a rustic brick oven. Visible from the open kitchen, chefs shuttle around work stations, positioning slabs of meat atop open flames fueled by the imported quebracho wood that infuses its savory flavor into selections such as the signature skirt steak ($17 for half; $25 for full) or the brochette de lomo's skewered chunks of fillet, fresh pepper, and crispy pancetta ($19). Ladles scoop house-made pastas such as spinach and ricotta canelones ($13) or the pappardelle scarparo's fettuccini doused in fresh tomato basil sauce ($14). Afterwards, guests can sip coffee or hot tea ($2.25), coupled with house-made desserts including argentine shortbread ($5) or chocolate mousse topped with whipped cream and fresh berries ($8).
Chef Chuck draws upon a degree from the New England Culinary institute while presiding over Silas’ creole-inspired spreads of seafood, po boys and burgers, and house-cut steaks. Brandish gleaming cutlery to slice into thick chops such as the slow-roasted 16-ounce prime rib ($21.99) or the 8-ounce filet mignon ($24.99). The spicy creole seafood pasta invites diners to dig into a feast decorated with maritime morsels of shrimp, clams, mussels, and fresh fish like a love letter from Poseidon ($12.99); the pasta primavera pairs tongue-tickling tendrils with sun-soaked summer veggies ($8.99). The shrimp po boy surrounds a coterie of six jumbo shrimp, which cooks blacken or fry depending on customer preference ($6.99).
Max & Sam's Bar & Grill carries on a classic neighborhood-chophouse tradition with hand-cut steaks and seafood served within dark-wood-paneled walls built in 1924 and brushed against by the likes of Al Capone, Marilyn Monroe, and Joe DiMaggio. Under the gaze of jazz-age crooners swirled onto framed canvases, soaking up aromatic inspiration for their next musical meditation on cheese grits, the five-course meal kicks off its culinary set list with parmesan-crusted beef tips or calamari. Bowls of the chef's french-onion or soup du jour, depending on whether jour is in season, set the scene for a simple house salad of mixed greens and veggies.
Tokyo Bay Mang Sushi and Japanese Steakhouse spans a spectrum of cooking ideologies, simultaneously folding fresh, raw fish into sushi rolls, searing hibachi items in a scorching blaze, and rounding out the menu with pan-Asian entrees and Thai dishes. Chefs fire up three front-and-center teppanyaki tables, where flaming plumes obscure steak, shrimp, and scallops. The King lobster sushi roll sports dual tempura and fried lobster tails swept up in the flavors of faux crab, asparagus, avocado, and eel sauce. Basil sprinkles thai curries and piping-hot seafood, served behind a façade that mimics the tiered roofs in Thailand that protect possessions from pad thai monsoons.
Living up to your dad's legacy can be tough when your dad was George Steinbrenner's go-to guy. Malio Iavarone often hosted "The Boss" during his tenure as the Yankees manager, serving him steaks at the original Malio's Steakhouse on South Dale Mabry. Today, Malio's son Derek works to produce similar hype at a new, swankier location in Rivergate Tower, where the one-word difference in the venue's name—"Prime" hints at the USDA Prime beef cooked within—belies the recipes’ faithful adherence to tradition.
Each steak, from the New York strip to the filet, receives a simple yet meticulously scattered dash of salt and pepper. Couples can even go all-out with a 40-oz. prime porterhouse for two, admittedly a more filling romantic dinner than catching and swallowing each other’s blown kisses. Aside from tender cuts of beef, the menu at Malio's boasts lamb and veal chops as well as lobster tails and Chilean sea bass cooked several ways, including blackened, Theresa-style, and pan-fried.
Like the patrons who like their steaks rare, Malio’s Prime Steakhouse seems enamored with the color red. Broad red columns stand between the windows overlooking the waterfront, and framed works by Joe Testa-Secca—Art Professor Emeritus at the University of Tampa—hang over the crimson semicircular booths. The reds from a list of more than 200 wines complete the motif.