The concept behind Samba Steak & Sushi House started to take shape in the early 20th century, when Japanese immigrants in Brazil and Peru began mixing local culinary influences with food from home. Simple, health-conscious Japanese cooking techniques mixed with spicier South American flavors, producing dishes seen in Samba's menu of wild-caught seafood, locally sourced produce, and organic sushi rice.
Hibachi chefs roast lobster tails, calamari, and sirloin steak on tabletop grills while diners watch this time-honored practice. In contrast, the sushi chefs incorporate more fusion elements by packing nontraditional ingredients into the specialty maki, such as coconut flakes, marinated red onions, and melted mozzarella cheese.
The hibachi grills' occasional bursts of flame complement the high-ceilinged dining room's predominantly orange- and red-hued walls and the glowing eyes of the head chef. To keep this space full beyond mealtimes, the restaurant also hosts regular events, including DJ performances, karaoke nights, and sushi-making classes.
For 30 years, the culinary family behind CJ's Steakloft has whipped up a spread of savory steak-house fare, including juicy slabs of beef, hearty pastas, and fresh fish. Cuts of prime rib fill plates with tender helpings ($19.95), and Parisienne sirloin ($18.95) proves its whereabouts with an airtight alibi of thick, tasty grill marks. Pasta entrees, such as the creamy chicken-and-broccoli alfredo ($14.95) unite starch and protein in a palatable symphony of flavor, and seafood dishes such as baked stuffed haddock deliver artfully prepared packages of fresh, flaky ocean fare ($16.95). Combination dinners unite land and sea with mix-and-match entrees such as steak tips and lobster accompanied by an edible aide-de-camp of potato or vegetable ($24.95).
To create their traditional Brazilian churrasco barbecue, Oliveira’s Steakhouse’s chefs slow cook juicy cuts of pork, beef, and chicken to accompany the greens and veggies of their vast salad bar. Offering an all-you-can-eat setup, the restaurant lets guests fill plates from the buffet before they're weighed for pricing at the end. The eatery also hosts all-you-can-eat dinners where kids younger than 4, adults older than 100, and sleight-of-hand magicians eat free.
Ken's Steak House is an improbable success story. Ken and Florence Hanna opened the Lakeside Cafe in 1935, the throes of the Great Depression. Bite by bite, they built a loyal base of customers (who always just called the eatery "Ken's"), and after five years, the restaurant took up residence in a small diner on Route 9, then known as Starvation Alley.
But Ken dreamed of a day when the grimly named strip would flourish. Today, it's known as the "Golden Mile"—and Ken's Steak House itself has mushroomed. The kitchen still serves the salad dressing recipes created by Florence Hanna—now a national line of salad dressings—and Ken's son, Timothy, and his wife are in charge.
Chefs broil and fire-grill prime cuts of steak, marinating the chateaubriand's center cut roast tenderloin in a reduction of port wine, or infusing the 8-ounce filet mignon with the earthy smoked notes of the warm cedar planks it's served on. Seafood options nestle up against their turf counterparts, including bacon-wrapped scallops, a full pound of lobster stuffed with crab and shrimp, and pistachio-crusted Atlantic salmon. Chicken and pasta dishes round out the menu, and diners discover Italian influences and plenty of seafood-pasta plates. The rustic wood paneling harkens back to Ken's Steak House's roots, and the upscale fare and soft light cast from chandeliers make the spot an ideal choice for an anniversary dinner or a piñata's last meal.
Swirls of sauce and fresh orchid blossoms adorn entrees at Hirosaki Prime, where chefs craft traditional and contemporary Japanese dishes. At tabletop grills throughout the 54-seat hibachi room, they blend cooking and performance in a showy display as they sauté vegetables and seasoned meats. In the smaller lounge, alit with votive candles, otherworldly artwork, and walls inlaid with a soft red glow, guests can sample other Japanese dishes such as chicken teriyaki, as well as specialty sushi rolls such as the Ninja roll, whose shrimp tempura, cucumber, and spicy tuna hide in plain sight.
Most chefs tend to specialize in a particular cuisine, such as Italian or sushi. Prezo Grille & Bar's executive chef, Tim Vaillette, however, prefers to specialize in a little bit of everything. His main menu runs the gamut from classic American burgers to Barcelona-style swordfish served with rice pilaf. He also draws inspiration from Italy, topping the house-made dough of his thin-crust pizzas with ingredients such as buffalo mozzarella, ricotta, meatballs, and caramelized onions. Tim even dabbles in sushi, preparing specialty rolls such as the bad boy maki, which he coils with spicy salmon, avocado, and spicy mayo before serving it atop a revving motorcycle. To complement Tim's far-reaching menu, Prezo's bartenders serve an extensive selection of cocktails and craft beer, as well as more than 20 wines by the glass and 50 by the bottle.
Feasts unfold in Prezo's upscale, romantically lit dining room or in its similarly lit bar, where four plasma televisions stay tuned to the latest sports game.
As Italian eateries go, Peppercorn’s is a chameleon. Entrees can be elegant—grilled salmon over mesclun, steak tips with a seafood casserole—or downright comforting, such as a pot roast with natural pan gravy. Families have an easy time ordering thanks to the thin-crust pizzas and kids' menu, whereas more mature crowds enjoy the benefits of Peppercorn’s proximity to Wormtown Brewery. The craft-beer producers are just next door, so they keep Peppercorn’s bar stocked with their regular brews, rare offerings, and to-go growlers. In the lounge, seven high-definition flat screen TVs broadcast the day’s athletic proceedings, and here spectators can order anything off the full menu while they second-guess the manager's decision to replace the catcher with a pyramid of fragile milk bottles.