The snarling mouth of a coal-fired oven dubbed “The Wolf” chars the crusts of Bocca Lupo’s pizzas and calzones to a crunchy golden-brown. The pizzeria’s no-frills menu boasts eight specialty pizzas, including a spinach and ricotta combination ($14 for a 14"; $17 for an 18") and a meatball pie loaded with fresh mozzarella ($14 for a 14"; $18 for an 18"). Patrons can watch chefs hand stretch pizza dough across a custom-made marble slab before topping it with ricotta, mozzarella, and romano cheeses ($12) along with extras such as anchovies or sun-dried tomatoes ($1.50 each). While the main course bakes on glowing coals, platefuls of garlic fries ($4.50) temper belly growls and keep freeloading vampires at bay. For dessert, diners can sit in the glow of the coal fire and recount ghost stories around a s’mores pizza crowned with marshmallows, chocolate, and a crumbly garland of graham crackers ($7).
Visani Restaurant & The Comedy Zone set the stage for comedians from throughout the United States to fill the rows with uproarious laughter every Saturday night. Guests can munch on an appetizer platter of mini meatballs, fried mozzarella, and bruschetta before a main course of hard-boiled comedy is served at 10 p.m., which leaves ample time to warm up guffaws throughout the day. Upcoming acts include Tony Tone, an impressionist who has appeared on HBO's Def Comedy Jam and Cedric the Entertainer's DVD The Starting Line Up 1, and James Sibley, an observational comedian who has appeared on My Name Is Earl. Unlike an elitist ATM, the 200-seat theater operates on a first-come, first-served basis, so reservations are recommended.
Legend has it that during a high-stakes poker game, Johnny Leverock threw down the winning hand and won a 7-acre Tampa Bay oyster bed. The bed held a surplus of oysters—15,000 bushels a year—leading Johnny to open up his own oyster bar in 1948, which served the seafood-centric recipes his wife Bertha had perfected. Years later, new owners dubbed the eatery Leverock’s Restaurant in homage to the man, keeping the same clam-chowder recipe served on the original menu in 1948. Other standouts include sesame-seed-crusted mahi-mahi, north Atlantic snow crab, and housemade bread pudding. In line with the maritime theme, oversize fish hang from the ceiling in the dining room, and floor-to-ceiling windows provide panoramic views of Palm Island and the Intracoastal Waterway.
Owners Ines Josupeit and chef James King join culinary forces at Table 209, a bistro tucked into the historical buildings and sunny harbor walk of Punta Gorda. James brings his 20 years of experience working in kitchens throughout San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland to the restaurant, cobbling fresh seafood, prime meats, and seasonal ingredients into innovative gourmet dishes. Every Monday night, Ines grabs the culinary baton, pulling from her own German heritage to simmer up an authentic menu of traditional German sausages and potato pancakes. Out in the dining room, local artwork festoons the walls, as guests sit around white tablecloths, illuminated by flickering candles that stop passing cavemen dead in their tracks. Outside in the patio, glimmering strands of hanging lights cascade above rows of tabletops and lush plants.