MecaFresh, owned and operated by experienced chefs Robert Stea and Louis Venne, culls fresh produce, quality meats, artisan breads, and gourmet sauces from around the world to inform a globally-inspired menu. Grilled chicken joins forces with mixed greens, roasted peppers, gorgonzola cheese, and walnuts to create aptly named walnut-and-gorgonzola chicken salads ($8.50), while Boar's Head roast beef paninis instill incisors with elation they haven't felt since being chosen to replace baby teeth ($8.25). MecaFresh's chefs also sling a variety of Asian noodle bowls such as shrimp-topped pad thai to satiate seafood cravings ($9.75) and tofu-topped long noodles to leave vegetarians brimming with soy ($8.50).
Rare Accents Salon & Day Spa's skin-soothers rejuvenate clients' faces with gentle, exfoliating microdermabrasion treatments and soothing facials. Crystal-tipped wands and gentle suction expel dead cells from the skin's surface, aiming to ramp up cell production, bolster circulation, and shake loose spare change left behind ears by absent-minded magician uncles. The treatment includes a hydration facial and customized mask to further erase fine lines, diminish scars, and even out discoloration. Afterward, clients can peruse Rare Accents' professional skincare and makeup products from brands such as Azure and Glo, taking 20% off essential at-home beautifying aids.
To call Harr's Surf & Turf Market a family business is a bit of an understatement. Stephen Innocenzi, the manager and head chef, has been joined by his mother, two aunts, a grandmother, a sister, a brother, and his two grandkids—38 employees in all. The meat industry comes naturally to the clan; Stephen’s stepfather, Ervin Harr, first picked up a filleting knife in 1961, and the pristine white aprons and cases full of crystalline ice eventually called to Stephen as well.
"Back in ’87,” he says, “I was working at a restaurant and studying to be an architect. I found passion for food, so I came to the family business."
In the shop, deep glass display cases teem with more than 20 varieties of fish each day, including Florida black grouper and wild-caught salmon. Staff members carefully wrap shellfish, shrimp, and crab legs, and can fly in live Maine lobster with one day's notice. Stephen walks among the aisles, going out of his way to dispense pairing advice and cooking suggestions.
"We have a customer that comes in, she'll have us write the cookbook's name and page number on the wrapper so she can remember what goes where. I think someone somewhere else would look at the woman, and say 'Huh?' But those of us that have been here, we're fine doing it. We don't mind."
While planning dinners, patrons draw from a stock that includes dry-aged prime beef, pork, lamb, hormone-free poultry, and Boar's Head deli products, all custom-cut in house. Bottles and jars stand on the shelves in sleek ranks, the colorful labels of 350 beers and wines displaying countries of origin that include Spain, Germany, and France. Stephen also takes particular interest in crafting complete meals for patrons to take home.
"We have 22 different types of kebabs made every day. We also have giant, stuffed twice-baked potatoes, we sell about 4,000 of those a week," he says, adding that much of what he prepares is dependent on trends. "My wife and I like to go to eat once or twice a week, and after, we'll brainstorm with the family, see what's popular."
The Pint and Brew corrals pale ales, stouts, pilsners, and wheat beers from area breweries, providing visitors with a one-stop shop for Tampa Bay's brews. Here, customers can belly up to the 42-foot wooden bar inside the 1,400-square-foot facility, sipping on beers from local craft breweries, including Barley Mow Brewery, Cigar City Brewing, 7venth Sun Brewery, and Saint Somewhere Brewing Company. No matter the brew, The Pint and Brew's staff members love talking beer and are happy to strike up a conversation. However, they also encourage patrons to participate in games of shuffleboard, ring toss, or Duck, Duck, Gose.
Faceless Samurai might be a new restaurant, but the chefs behind it hew closely to the old ways. Under chocolate-colored drapery, diners kneel around low tables for old-fashioned sushi maki and classic Thai curries. This respect for centuries of culinary tradition doesn't mean that these chefs aren't open to new ideas. Their Mexican roll mixes shrimp tempura and avocado, and Steve's roll turns up the South-of-the-Border flavor with the addition of jalapeno and cilantro. Besides sushi, the Japanese side of the menu features entrees that might be less familiar to American diners, such as the okonomiyaki—sometimes called the "Japanese pizza," the "Japanese omelet," or "Howard," if his mom is around—and the lightly seared tuna tataki.
Jon Aponte coaches both baseball and volleyball. Not only does this mean that he can lob an umpire clean over the net, but it also means that he's adept at propelling players toward gold medals. Trainees between the ages of 5 and 18 rely on Coach Jon for sports-specific help with their technique. He travels to parks and fields to meet his students, conducting private and group lessons that help them soar past the competition.