Hailing from countries such as Germany, Russia, Italy, Poland, and Argentina, Starlight Dance Center's all-star instructors channel their experience in global competitions and performances while guiding students into the land of ballroom dancing. Three high-ceilinged ballrooms and a 4,000-square-foot performance floor set an elegant, roomy stage as instructors prepare children for recitals at the end of each course. They also teach adults to whirl and jive during group classes, which include weekly salsa parties and free mortgage-refinancing tips. To mix things up, Starlight Dance Center has created a Fit & Dance department where students can explore Zumba, belly dance, ballroom fitness, and total-body workouts.
True to its name, Just Grapes Lounge focuses on wines, with more than 30 vintages poured by the glass and 18 more varieties sequestered on a reserve bottle list. Microbrews, champagnes, and ports round out the lounge's full bar, complementing a Mediterranean-tinged tapas menu. Small plates, ranging from hummus and crostini to stuffed baked clams, are ideal for smothering appetites or boosting a tiny table's self-esteem. Three styles of rustic pizza artfully pair tomatoes with cheese, whereas molten fondue, served in a bread bowl, comes in varieties including gorgonzola and double-cream brie.
After more than a decade following different paths in the restaurant industry, friends Donny Giordano and Pellegrino Mongillo merged their culinary passions into Pellegrino's Restaurant & Lounge. In the kitchen, chef Mongillo—a Culinary Institute of America graduate—and his staff combine fresh, seasonal ingredients into dishes inspired by the various regions of Italy. Fresh seafood crops up in the octopus bruschetta and the scallop-, shrimp-, and mussel-flecked orzo. Other offerings include seared hangar steak with provolone and cavatelli pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and chicken.
In the main dining space, servers glide across tiled floors to wood tables set under arched doorways. Behind a granite bar, bartenders mix specialty flavored martinis and pour a range of international wines.
Tongues of flame twist in a fireplace, hinting at the warmth filling the bustling kitchen at MK Valencia. Rail lighting spills a blue aura over dishes that draw from myriad culinary traditions. Mediterranean flavors shine through in salmon drizzled in a pesto sauce and lamb osso bucco. In the dining room, glasses clink occasionally like a xylophonist failing a performance review, setting a tempo for the wait staff, which totes roasted salmon in a pesto sauce.
A curtain of bubbles rises up through champagne cocktails in lively colors that match the crescent-shaped orange booths or electric-blue wine racks. During warmer months, the murmur of conversation spills out onto a patio equipped with a 75" TV. Inside, the lounge also offers two 60" TVs.
LITM, an acronym for "love is the message," houses a triple threat of restaurant, lounge, and gallery in its chic, 1,800-square-foot storefront. Creative flavors and contemporary presentation upscaleize its bar classics and gourmetize its entrees. House-made preparations, such as hand-rolled gnocchi with basil pesto ($15) and the hand-pounded veggie burger ($14), are abundant. Reignite the great atmosphere-versus-hydrosphere debate with citrusy chicken paillard ($18) or tea-crusted tilapia ($23). Sophisticated desserts, such as the Belgium chocolate cake ($8), assist adults in reliving the wildest sugar-rush of their youth.
Honshu Lounge owner and executive sushi chef tucks fresh seafood and veggies into rolls in ways that are pleasing to both the eyes and the tongue. He wraps the Honshu roll—stuffed with yellowtail, avocado, tuna, and salmon—in a sheet of special seaweed that’s marbled with white and green, and sprinkles vibrant-red tobiko onto the White Pearl roll’s pale salmon. Orange dollops of spicy sauce pop against the slices of green avocado that sit atop the Dynamite roll, and the Red Phoenix roll is known to spontaneously burst into flames before re-rolling its shrimp-tempura center.
The interior of the eatery is also infused with pops of color, from the traditional Japanese kimono in golden and violet hues to the blue lights that illuminate the sushi bar. Strings of holiday lights and the occasional mistletoe dangle above tables decorated with stir-fried noodles and steaks glazed in teriyaki sauce.