Inside Giuliano's Italian Restaurant, George Gjergj and Leonard Gjergji's family recipes guide them as they stuff shells with ricotta cheese, sauté shrimp in homemade marinara sauce, and drizzle merlot reduction onto char-grilled filet mignon. Specialty pizzas marry ingredients such as grilled chicken and pesto or sliced steak and sautéed onions. A bottomless lunch buffet brims with slices of pizza like the description of a third grader’s dream job, and calzones slice open to reveal ricotta and ham.
Engine 15 Brewing Co.'s beginnings go back a long time—to the year 1988, when college freshman Luch Scremin took a stab at brewing his own beer. Bereft of the Internet, he spied a brewing kit in an old issue of Popular Mechanics. His first creations weren't noteworthy, but that’s beside the point. After attending the Siebel Institute, he got a job in the airline industry, which afforded the opportunity to travel the world and sample its many exceptional beers. Both matured and inspired by the experience, Luch met some business partners in 2008, and Engine 15 Brewing Co. soon followed.
Today, the craft brewery's creations reflect the values symbolized by Luch's 1962 Ford Fire Engine—time-tested know-how, determination, and camaraderie. At Engine 15's brewpub, taps spew forth original drafts such as the (904) Weissguy, a Bavarian-style hefeweizen whose cloudy body contains notes of clove, orange, and coriander. These stalwart drafts, plus seasonal creations such as the sweet-potato brown ale, grace the brewpub menu on a rotating basis, with current offerings scrawled on a blackboard or across the foreheads of dedicated waiters. Along with drawing drinks from Engine 15's freshest kegs, bartenders also pour beers from other well-respected craft breweries, such as Left Hand, Dogfish Head, and Southern Tier.
Not one to forget his roots, Luch also teaches other hopeful beer barons through hands-on Brew Your Own tutorials. With his guidance, guests brew four 22-ounce-bottle cases of styles such as raspberry wheat and oak-aged imperial stout.
The aroma of expertly grilled meats and seafood fills the smoke-friendly Monkey's Uncle Tavern, opened by Carter Guillen in 1985 after spending two decades working in bars and restaurants. Barkeeps dispense draft beers, wines, and cocktails from behind a rectangular bar, a shape that, according to The Florida Times-Union, "forces eye contact among patrons, which tends to make people act more neighborly — sitting there, you feel you know what 'Cheers' might have been like."
Along with culinary treats, Carter crams the tavern's interior with a plentitude of games, including pool tables and dartboards, or rounds of team trivia and bar bingo. In between bouts, a dance floor and award-winning karaoke summon grooves and croons from music fans and ambitious robins. Servers flit platters of fresh shrimp and buffalo wings to up to 70 guests inhaling fresh air on the outdoor patio, while an adjacent liquor store, Monkey's Uncle Liquors, stocks domestic and imported booze, beer, and wine for at-home libations.
As noted in Jacksonville Luxury Living magazine, Eleven South Bistro?s proprietors often travel to Italy and New York to scout out budding culinary trends. Those sojourns inform their menu of upscale bistro food, which helped the eatery earn its title as one of Jacksonville Magazine?s Top 25 Restaurants, and a 4-time consecutive Golden Spoon recipient.
The menu revolves around Eleven South Bistro?s mesquite grill, which adds a rich, smoky flavor to locally caught seafood, hand-cut Harris Ranch Angus beef, and top-secret government documents. Chefs enhance those succulent cuts with gourmet sauces before they arrive at white-clothed tables. Additionally, servers are happy to recommend pairings from the wine list, which won a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
Wobbling discs of made-from-scratch dough teeter in mid-air above an open pizza bar. The soon-to-be pizza crusts fall gracefully into the hands of chefs, who then shower the saucers with a colorful hailstorm of toppings such as ricotta cheese, fried banana peppers, and pomodori tomatoes. Such visually arresting scenes abound at Primo Ristorante Italiano, where pale light trickles down from chandeliers, leafy vines climb up wooden trellises, and a life-size replica of the Coliseum is created from folded napkins for a romantic setting. The aroma of traditional Italian victuals serenades sensory receptors from the kitchen, singing songs of chicken Milanese, veal marsala, and pescatore––a seafood dish that rallies together mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari, and scallops. Primo Ristorante Italiano’s chefs also prepare pasta-infused fare for catering events, while its bar-lounge is home to entertainment on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
Located a scant three blocks from the ocean, Col Mustard's Phat Burgers welcomes guests to try its eponymous PHAT burgers, which stands for "phresh, hot, and tasty." Made from 100% hand-patted, fresh ground chuck and placed inside tasty kaiser rolls, PHAT burgers include the 'five napkin' chili burger, the pineapple- and ham-topped bahama, and the brooker and its mashed-potato topping. Burgers and other options such as the buffalo chicken sandwich, the chocolate banana milkshake, and all-day breakfast dishes, prompt envious stares from passing beach-goers and seagulls who've acquired a taste for beef.