When Dean Lavallee opened the first Park Avenue BBQ in 1988, he had one lofty mission in mind: to serve the best barbecue ever made. Despite the seemingly impossible nature of his goal, he and his team continue to rise to the challenge, dry-rubbing their meats to smoke and char-grill on-site. They use all-natural, grain-fed, domestic pork for their traditional and Carolina-style barbecue pork—pulled by hand—and only use fresh, never-frozen ribs that are smoked daily over hickory. As diners chow down on hearty homestyle sides, seafood platters, or buffalo wings tossed in one of six sauces, they can admire the dining room's pictures of their city's most prominent people, places, and robot mayors.
Park Avenue BBQ arranges their meats into fun, hearty dishes such as the Dempublican sandwich, which combines smoked pork and beef brisket separated only by cheese and bacon to create a sizeable sandwich that the team has dubbed "porkalicious". They whip up Funnybonz, which look and taste like miniature ribs, using tender, lean pork that's prepared by cooking up regular ribs beneath a shrink ray. In 2008, their dedication to each dish caused Cityvoter's users to name Park Avenue BBQ the best barbecue in town.
Italian chefs Giordy and Raffaele recreate the experience of dining in Milan, not just by following authentic recipes, but by serving those dishes in a bistro-style dining room rich with dark hardwood floors and wooden wall paneling. Elegant chandeliers with individual fez-like lampshades dangle above beige tablecloths, grape-hued napkins, and a piano tucked into a corner. The chefs work in the open kitchen as diners dig into mountains of squid-ink gnocchi and homemade tortelli accented by sage and nutmeg. While individual pizzas bake in the oven and whole Mediterranean sea bass debone tableside, diners can sip on a La Scaletta signature skinny cocktail, shaken and poured into a martini glass by a trained Pilates instructor.:m]]
Picasso’s Pizzeria spins out a menu of classic pasta dishes, hearty subs, and pizza pies crafted with fresh-made dough, homemade sauce, and 100% mozzarella cheese. Baked to crispy sublimity and desired by lonely bicycle wheels, Picasso’s round, gourmet pizzas range from the Carolina pizza with pepperoni, genoa salami, and tomatoes ($12.95–$17.95) to the margherita pizza with fresh basil and mozzarella ($10.95–$16.95). Bask in the simple goodness of a cheese pizza ($9.75–$13.75), or upgrade that simplicity with a choice of delectable toppings ($1.35–$1.85 each depending on pizza size). Diners hankering for a savory dose of carbohydration can dive into a traditional plate of spaghetti and meatballs ($10.95) to hit the spot, or they can relish in the ocean flavors of the shrimp parmigiana ($14.95), served with ziti or spaghetti. Dine-in for a delicious outing with family and friends or order takeout and bury the meal in the backyard to teach a newborn child the survival skills of sniffing out and digging for one’s food.
Chefs at Pita Grille extract the most dynamic flavors from Mediterranean and American cuisine to populate their dinner menu with a diverse spread of signature dishes. Servers share dinner features tableside on the screen of an iPad, eschewing archaic practices of scrawling specials on a chalkboard or sending them to tables tied to a messenger bird. Guests crunch fresh greek or caesar salads with their choice of protein ($14–$19.95), including marinated chicken, jumbo shrimp, and filet mignon. Ovens gently braise shanks of australian lamb ($15.95) before the tender meat sprawls across a bed of rice and grilled vegetables beneath a savory blanket of sauce. Yellowfin tuna fillets transform inside a chrysalis of sesame seeds to flutter across taste buds buoyed by Moroccan spices, quinoa pilaf, red-pepper coulis, and sriracha aioli ($23.50). Chefs slow roast savory half chickens with zesty lemon sauce ($16) and skewer entree kebab platters ($14.95–$22.95) with multifarious meaty options.
Hibiscus Grille and Kokoro Sushi Bar's staff creates innovative, colorful sushi rolls drizzled in house-made sauces. Splash spoons into a bowl of steaming soup, such as vegetable miso or chicken wonton, which bathes house-made dumplings, asparagus tips, and chinese cabbage in a savory, clear broth. The nimble digits of a sushi chef furl a scroll of rice around raw tuna, salmon, escolar, avocado, and asparagus to concoct each Three Musketeers roll before deep-frying the creation to preserve inner valiance. The extremely rainbow roll temporarily blinds diners with a polychromatic tiara of assorted raw fish, while an assortment of fully cooked options such as the chicken-teriyaki or shrimp-tempura roll cast a wide net of plated temptation. The extensive menu also hosts a selection of vegetarian-friendly cucumber rolls as well as rolls wrapped up in themselves.
When The Melting Pot originally opened in 1975 just outside Orlando, the location was cozy and quaint, but diners had only three options: swiss-cheese fondue, beef fondue, or chocolate fondue. However, as the restaurant grew in popularity, so did its menu selection and atmosphere. The restaurant first expanded four years later under the leadership of a Melting Pot waiter and enterprising college student named Mark Johnston, who teamed up with his brothers Mike and Bob to open a new outpost in Tallahassee. This location grew in reputation to pave the way for future franchise expansion. Today, the company—now owned by the trio of siblings—reigns as the premier fondue, wine, and drink restaurant, stretching across North America with more than 140 restaurants linked by underground tunnels. The restaurant's menu has also ballooned, and patrons can now expect six varieties of hot dipping cheese paired with salads, meats, and molten chocolate.
On a given night, groups of foodies gather around tables to nosh on signature four-course meals, from cheese-fondue appetizers and various salads to steaks and seafood cooked in a choice of healthy broth or oil. Birthday revelers and couples can share decadent evenings at private tables, capping off meals with chocolate desserts that have defined The Melting Pot for decades.