Dale Del Bello remembers everything about his first hibachi experience. While stationed in Korea as a part of the Air Force National Guard, Dale and a group of friends visited Tokyo on leave. They followed a traditional route among his fellow service people, which took him to a hibachi restaurant. Immediately he sensed that he’d stumbled upon more than just dinner. The chefs’ showmanship fascinated him as they seared meats and vegetables on their tabletop grills, allowing guests to sample forkfuls directly off the 600-degree surface. After returning to Buffalo, New York, in 1971, Dale opened his first Arigato location, attempting to recreate what made that dining experience so remarkable. Since then, he has distilled the authentic experience into something that families can enjoy without traveling abroad, establishing Arigato restaurants throughout New York and Florida and staffing them with more than 60 chefs from Japan.
Surrounded by 8–10 diners, these chefs act not only as the restaurant’s culinary creators, but also as showmen and magicians of sorts, dexterously slicing ingredients, flipping shrimp tails into their hats, and conjuring soy sauce out of thin air. Away from the flaming tabletops, meanwhile, bartenders make use of their own skill sets as they mix specialty cocktails, which occasionally use splashes of plum wine or sake to imbue familiar-sounding drinks with new dimension.
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.
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.
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).
During World War I, Greek immigrant Louis Pappas served in the Army as a personal chef to General John Pershing. To give the hungry general some extra nutrition, Louis began adding scoops of potato salad to his traditional greek salads. When Louis returned to the United States, he opened up his own restaurant, Louis Pappas Riverside Café, where he would re-create this signature dish using fresh produce from his own ranch in Tarpon Springs.
Today, Louis Pappas's grandson continues his grandfather's old Florida family tradition at Pappas Ranch. There, he and his kitchen serve up a new menu of fresh seafood, poultry, sandwiches, street tacos, hand-cut steaks, and barbecue dishes whose "family flair" has been lauded by Metromix Tampa Bay. They continue to scoop savory housemade potato salad into their internationally renowned Louis Pappas Famous greek salad, tossing it in massive bowls that serve as many as four diners. Bartenders dole out glasses of locally brewed craft beers and wine or mix cocktails and martinis at the full center bar with flat-screen TVs.
The restaurant's decor channels that of the original Pappas family ranch. In the dining room, spacious booths are surrounded by rustic wooden walls, and outside is a covered outdoor patio.