Randa Marar-Mueller grew up in the restaurant business and always knew she wanted to open her own place. When she returned from Michigan to raise her two kids in her hometown, she found Bacio Café & Lounge up for sale and figured it was time to take the plunge. She called in her mother, renowned chef Norma Marar, and the two overhauled the menu and aesthetic, opening with a menu of grilled paninis, gourmet pizzas, and French- and Italian-style entrees.
While Norma crafts delicacies in the kitchen, baristas cum mixologists steam up lattes and specialty teas or mix a selection of gourmet martinis for after-hours drinks. Gelato—made fresh in-house daily—sweetens palates with flavours such pistachio and mango, and baked goods resting under cake domes and in oversized martini glasses conclude meals more sweetly than a hug from a grandmother.
The RyeGate's chefs draw from an array of culinary disciplines to create a menu populated with eclectic choices such as sushi, steakhouse fare, and seafood and Italian dishes. White wine veloute drizzles over a roasted chicken breast stuffed with garlic cloves and brie cheese ($21), and garlic shrimp scampi and fried calamari keep a 12-ounce Angus new york strip steak from floating up to the ceiling ($35). Meanwhile, chefs sprinkle italian sausage, caramelized onions, smoked bacon, and a bevy of cheese onto a thin crust pizza that bakes to a golden brown inside a stone oven ($15). Diners can complement their culinary journeys with a spicy tuna roll ($12) and sing tired forks a lullaby after finishing off a turtle chocolate tart for dessert ($6).
BluFin Sushi rethinks the concept of a sushi restaurant, fashioning specialty rolls with unconventional ingredients and a menu of entrees that blend aspects of American and Asian cuisine. The innovative spot's chefs serve up tender Kobe beef sliders and entrees that range from fish tacos to Japanese-style fried chicken, pounded flat and battered with panko. Hefty vegetarian rolls with names such as Monster Beast keep vegetarians from going hungry and munching on nearby Chia Pets. BluFin Sushi's kitchen also prepares sushi party platters for any occasion. An outdoor patio beckons patrons outside during warm weather, and diners can wash down bites with cocktails, beer, wine, and sake.
Devoted to eco-friendly dining, Green Zone Pizza dishes out organic and locally sourced fare atop a white counter made from recycled bottles. Built upon organic white or wheat crust, all pizzas can be personalized with classic add-ons such as pepperoni, eco-friendly proteins such as free-range chicken, or olives that spell out love sonnets to a favorite cheese. Several signature pies trade meaty toppings for an all-veggie lineup, and most of the restaurant’s offerings can be ordered gluten-free. And, like Lee Iacocca’s mitten collection, salads stuffed with locally sourced produce radiate Michigan pride.
At Dylan’s, customers find themselves contemplating a generous spread of entrees and tapas, sushi, and an extensive wine list. For starters, patrons can slurp a bowl of clam chowder ($7) or chomp on single pieces of red-snapper (tai, $3), bluefin-tuna (toro, $8), or squid (ika, $2.75) sushi, then transition to a plate of lobster mac 'n' cheese ($8) or flash-fried coconut shrimp with pepper jelly ($11). After a sweet helping of Japanese– inari tofu-vegetable rolls (6 pieces, $5) or a squid-and-octopus tako salad ($7.50), omnivorous eaters can set their appetites at ease with a serving of beef-tenderloin tips tossed with whole-wheat pasta ($20), a 12-piece sashimi combination plate ($22.50) served with sushi rice, or a platter of frog legs ($15) in hot-pink leotards. Clogged body pipes can then be flushed with a glass of Cartlidge & Browne sauvignon blanc ($9), Latour chardonnay ($7), or Montoya pinot noir ($9).
TCBY (a.k.a. The Country's Best Yogurt) serves low-fat and fat-free yogurt that contains benevolent bacterial cultures that assist the body with digestion and nutrient absorption. All locations tout silky soft-serve in flavors such as golden vanilla and white-chocolate mousse ($1.79–$3.89). Top your probiotic-packed treat with strawberries, gummy bears, coconuts, or a host of other toppings (+$0.85 each). TCBY's Beriyo smoothies—potent potions such as Strawberry Bananza and Berrylicious—contain real-dairy frozen yogurt blended with bushels of fresh fruit ($4.39–$5.39). Celebrate successfully evading a baby raincloud with a waffle cone (additional $.60). Prices and selection vary from store to store.