Directly below Beachside Seafood Restaurant's dining room, you will find the restaurant's in-house market. Here, chefs browse through the stock of locally caught seafood, picking out premium fillets of fish and shellfish and kindly directing lost scuba divers back to their hotels. After carrying their fresh purchases back up to the kitchen, chefs fire up stoves to fry baskets of their renowned mayport shrimp, steam lobster tails, and stack sandwiches with grilled mahi.
Once assembled, the staff carries dishes to the alfresco dining area, where playful nautical decor hangs out on the walls. On the covered upstairs deck, sunlight streams onto wooden floors that support rows of picnic tables. This scene backdrops guests sipping from frosty mugs of beer with the aroma of fried seafood wafting through the air, reminding diners of childhood vacations spent in Atlantis.
Inside Giuliano's Italian Restaurant, George Gjergj and Leonard Gjergji's family recipes guide them as they stuff shells with ricotta cheese, sauté shrimp in homemade marinara sauce, and drizzle merlot reduction onto char-grilled filet mignon. Specialty pizzas marry ingredients such as grilled chicken and pesto or sliced steak and sautéed onions. A bottomless lunch buffet brims with slices of pizza like the description of a third grader’s dream job, and calzones slice open to reveal ricotta and ham.
Artwork, gifts, and feminine white vines line the walls of Ashes' Boutique & Tea Garden, where a cozy tearoom is nestled among gauzy curtains and white-lace tablecloths. Owner and artist Dana serves up pots of leafy brews and assorted nibbles during afternoon tea services, suitable for patrons of all ages and hat sizes. Dana also curates a thoughtful collection of gifts that include candles, jewelry, and attire.
A lively, friendly atmosphere underscores the Irish flavor at Fionn MacCool's, which is located just 100 feet from the beach. Topping an expansive menu of domestic and Emerald Isle–inspired delights is pub grub such as the savory ha'penny boxty ($9.99), a potato-pancake pillow stuffed with comforts of tender corned beef, buttered cabbage, and mustard-cream sauce. Sit atop the comfy pub furnishings, some of which are imported from Ireland, and corral your appetite into a conveniently placed pen with the shepherd's pie ($9.99 pub-grub menu, $10.95 entree), a hodgepodge of precious minced sirloin beef with baked veggies (carrots, onions, celery, and peas), crust, and tangy gravy. Alternatively, fully digest the pleasing, percussive potato-sausage rhythms of the bangers and mash ($9.99 pub-grub menu, $10.95 entree).
Mom-and-pop team Vicki and Sanford Gray furnishes hungry twosomes and foursomes with all-beef hot dogs, sausages, and burgers at a storefront evoking a beach-style hut, located just a few blocks from the Atlantic. The lunch menu calls forth comestibles including 16 hot-dog variations, which range from the chicago dog to the texas dog topped with chili, onions, and jalapeños. Sausages such as kielbasa expand the hut's encased meat offerings, and non-encased fare such as the north carolina burger silences belly yodels with heaps of chili, cheese, slaw, and onions. Sides cook in trans-fat-free oil to a golden-brown crispness previously thought attainable only by kissing the sun, and fries come dusted in choice of flavoring including bay seasoning or ranch.
Wobbling discs of made-from-scratch dough teeter in mid-air above an open pizza bar. The soon-to-be pizza crusts fall gracefully into the hands of chefs, who then shower the saucers with a colorful hailstorm of toppings such as ricotta cheese, fried banana peppers, and pomodori tomatoes. Such visually arresting scenes abound at Primo Ristorante Italiano, where pale light trickles down from chandeliers, leafy vines climb up wooden trellises, and a life-size replica of the Coliseum is created from folded napkins for a romantic setting. The aroma of traditional Italian victuals serenades sensory receptors from the kitchen, singing songs of chicken Milanese, veal marsala, and pescatore––a seafood dish that rallies together mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari, and scallops. Primo Ristorante Italiano’s chefs also prepare pasta-infused fare for catering events, while its bar-lounge is home to entertainment on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.