The Olive Gallery is more than a boutique store. It is a tasting room set up in the style of a Tuscan kitchen, a place to immerse oneself in flavor and explore the unexpected possibilities of artisan olive oils and vinegars. The room is filled with stainless-steel kegs called fustis, each filled with traditional, first-cold-pressed olive oils from locales such as Italy, California, Greece, or Chile. Some are filled with flavored oils, great for marinating meats or daubing onto pulse points, whereas others carry aged, flavored, or white balsamic vinegars.
The helpful staff members dole out storage tips and recipe advice for making the most of their wares, which include kitchen tools and specialty foods such as gourmet dip-mixes, spices, rubs, stuffed olives, and pastas. They also tout the health benefits of incorporating olive oil into your diet, citing lowered blood pressure, improved glycemic control, and possible anti-aging effects.
If a visit to one of Southern Belle's restaurants feels a lot like coming home, it might have something to do with the hearty family traditions behind the kitchen's down-home breakfast and lunch dishes. “My father was in pancake houses all his life,” says owner Steve Fotos. Today, many of the same recipes used by Steve's father help populate a menu of hearty comfort foods that includes a poached-egg and sausage benedict smothered in country gravy and french toast stuffed with cinnamon apples, strawberries and pecans, or blueberries and bananas. But while the country-fried-steak or smoked-sausage skillets are tempting, the expansive menu offers options for diets of all kind, pairing fluffy egg whites with strawberries, granola, and multigrain toast and swapping out regular maple syrup for bottles that are low-calorie, sugar-free, or simply sealed shut. Photos of farms and pastoral images smile down upon diners as they dig in and gently remind them to inquire about the restaurant's seasonal specials, which range from summertime salads with sun-ripened veggies to bowls of homemade wintertime chili.
Casa Santiago's talented chefs whip up fresh mole, ranchero sauce, and guacamole to spice up burritos and chimichangas. For breakfast lovers, the kitchen prepares spicy chorizo and eggs ranchero at all hours of the day, which can be delivered to the patio to guests soaking up summer rays. Behind the bar, bartenders concoct fruity frozen margaritas and serve bottled, imported brews to quench diners' thirst and complement each dish.
Shortly after the grand opening of Calla Lily Cafe, Natalie Stevens of the Oswego Patch sat down with Pedro and Dee Lopez—the husband-and-wife team behind Oswego’s newest eatery—to find out what made their business tick. The pair mused about their family’s string of restaurants and bars out in California, citing how they’ve always dreamed of doing the same. However, Calla Lily—named after the Lopez’s favorite flower—isn’t a bar; it’s a cozy and comfortable breakfast spot. Platefuls of multigrain pancakes, thick-cut french toast, and belgian waffles share menu space with hearty egg skillets, omelets, and biscuits and gravy. Customers not in the mood for breakfast can opt for lunch items such as triple-decker club sandwiches, half a dozen kinds of burgers, and fresh salads, before thinking long and hard about why they weren’t in the mood for breakfast.
Inside Biscuits' cozy and casual dining room, servers drift between tables and booths carrying plates heaped with country fried steak, biscuits and gravy, and stacks of sweet turtle pancakes stuffed with chocolate and butterscotch. Burgers, quesadillas, and a variety of sandwiches served with fries or tots encourage diners to eat with their hands, helping lower the appendages’ risk of being naturally selected against. Before meals, patrons can perk up with yogurt smoothies, specialty espresso drinks, and bottomless cups of java.