It’s easy to find the party at Aventura Lounge & Grill—just follow the sparks that fly from the necks of bottle-service liquors or the beats pulsing from the DJ booth. Patrons can groove beneath the colorful lights that swirl on the dance floor or relax on a couch in a VIP lounge sectioned off by velvet ropes and a force field visible only to those wearing sunglasses. To fuel up for the night, order dinner from the barbecue-centric menu; apricot-brandy sauce glazes center-cut pork chops, and sides such as corn on the cob or baked sweet potatoes pair with hickory-smoked ribs.
Slinger's Sports Restaurant's head chef, Nick Tokarski, presides over an eclectic menu of casual and upscale fare, filling mouths in a convivial atmosphere illumined by 11 high-definition TVs. For appetizers, dining companions divvy up a dozen steamed littleneck clams simmered with roasted garlic, bacon, and white wine, or prime palates with the zesty Sichuan sauce coating Ray’s spicy shrimp. Built upon a homemade flatbread foundation, the Chef’s pie pizza pairs melty cheeses with tomato sauce, wild mushrooms, red onions, and fresh basil, fostering an ideal avenue for flaunting your outfit’s built-in bib. Dre's burger stacks 8 ounces of Black Angus with guacamole and chipotle mayo and tames tongues with a flavor lasso made of jalapeños and jack and cheddar cheeses. At the Mac Bar, noshers craft macaroni masterpieces from three cheesy styles and a cornucopia of varied toppings, from hard-boiled eggs to meatballs to blackened shrimp.
As the first sign that this isn't a typical sushi bar, Kyushu sushi's chefs slice fresh fish before a floral-toned backdrop made from a collage of close-up photos of candles, blossoms, and bamboo stalks. This collage and a large photo of orange-glowing lanterns floating atop twilight-colored water brighten the space. The break from tradition continues with the menu, which changes based on the day's available ingredients and whether aliens have come down to pick up all earth’s broccoli yet. While diners can find teriyaki or katsu dishes, they can also choose from inventive fare, such as monkfish-liver pâte with miso sauce, also known as the foie gras of the sea. The sushi chefs wrap unusual ingredients between layers of seaweed and black and white rice with colorful accents of mint, wasabi, and caviar.
Raised by her grandmother in a small mountain village near Genoa, Italy, Maria Leonardi grew up eating and cooking classic North Italian cuisine. After moving to the States, Maria worked in restaurants before opening a small shop to sell house-made pastas, sauces, and soups in 1953. For 35 years, Maria appeared in her neatly pressed apron nearly every day, pausing between batches of fresh dough to share friendly conversation and cooking advice with visitors.
Three generations later, Maria's descendants keep her memory alive by honoring her original recipes in that same shop, now named Nonna Maria's Homemade Pasta. A large interior window looks onto pasta machines as they meld fresh eggs, dough, and cheeses into products such as manicotti, ravioli, and baked ziti. Fresh pasta is cut to order behind the counter, and jars of sauce bottle classic flavors, including that of Nonna Maria's specialty genovese pesto sauce.
Bensi co-owner Genci Previzi helms an immense menu of classic Italian cuisine, including hearty homestyle dishes with roots in Calabria, Italy. Entrees, joined by a house salad or cup of comforting housemade soup, range from spaghetti and meatballs to gluten-free grilled chicken in a lemon-garlic marinade served over a veggie medley. The chefs also prepare an array of specials such as pignoli-crusted goat cheese and arugula salad, barolo-braised veal osso buco, pan-seared Chilean sea bass with eggplant caponata, and nutella chocolate pizza with fresh strawberries. The dishes are served in a modern dining atmosphere where minimal table settings and simple dark-wood furniture keep the focus on the vibrant cuisine.