"If you succeed, it will change your lives." Accountant Afram Nimeh uttered those words to his two sons in 1993 after investing the last of his savings into a failing restaurant. Though he passed away the following year, his sons?Joseph and Steven?carried on his legacy, Chicken Dijon Rotisserie & Grill. Today, they have expanded the family franchise to five locations, where customers gather to sample casual, healthy Mediterranean cuisine without having to build their own private jets. The kitchen staff efficiently assembles gyro and chicken platters flanked by sides such as rice pilaf, mediterranean potato salad, and stuffed grape leaves, as well as sandwiches topped with chicken, sliced gyro meat, or falafel.
In 1993, the basement of a Minneapolis apartment building was transformed into an Italian restaurant, becoming the first Buca di Beppo. The owners soon found themselves riding a wave of popularity and marinara sauce as they opened new restaurants across the nation. Today, the eatery occupies 97 locations nationwide, from San Francisco to Times Square.
At each location, chefs maintain the northern and southern Italian flavors that made the original so popular, with a few American twists. Then they serve it up in massive, family-style portions, making Buca di Beppo a favorite place for hungry families and groups of friends.
For starters, the chefs bake up batches of Cheesy Bread Florentine, a colorful combo of spinach, roma tomatoes, and garlic sprinkled over Italian bread and sealed in place with fresh, melted cheeses. Entr?es are prepared with an eye toward quality and quantity, both of size and selection, complete with Veal Parmigiana, Baked Ziti, and classic Italian-American staples like Ravioli and Lasagna. And in keeping with the convivial atmosphere, they also serve truly decadent desserts. The Mt. Vesuvius Dark Chocolate Cake erupts with melted chocolate, and the Colossal Brownie Sundae towers above other sweets with six scoops of ice cream and tiers of sundae trimmings.
Bolstered by a consistent stream of media praise, including a spotlight in the Daily Bruin in 2011, Extreme Pizza's thrill-seeking founders channel their penchant for outdoor adventure into a menu of healthy, creative pizzas. They habitually tweak the menu to incorporate new pies, many of which are available gluten-free, much like dictionaries with the "G" pages ripped out. Their chefs slice veggies and twirl dough each day before molding pizzas such as the Paia Pie, a smorgasbord of hawaiian pineapple, canadian bacon, and mandarin oranges atop a bed of mozzarella and cheddar. The website conveniently displays approximate calorie counts to accommodate diets and phobias of eating foods containing prime numbers.
Patrons can carryout take and bake pizzas or settle into the Redondo location and chow down beside a view of the ocean expanse. Kids blow through excess energy in the game area while adults scrutinize incoming broadcasts on TVs in the dining room.
Servers hoisting skewers circulate continuously through Samba Brazilian Steakhouse, pausing tableside to carve mesquite-grilled morsels of brazilian sausage, bacon-wrapped chicken, and sirloin steak. This is hardly an unusual sight at Brazil's famous all-you-can-eat churrascarias?until you see the ocean views through the 180-degree wall of glass in Samba Brazilian Steakhouse's Redondo dining room. This chic perspective on tropicalia dominates all aspects of the steakhouse. Clusters of mod white couches stand out against glowing orange walls, which contain plenty of nooks for groups to squeeze into.
Brunch hours offer a consortium of all-you-can-eat meats such as marinated beef and pork. The main course is complemented by unlimited trips to the salad- and Brazilian side dish-buffet, as well as your choice of mimosas, champagne, and sangria. On Thursday?Saturday, a chorus of smooth-limbed showgirls catalyze the party with a slight assist from the caipirinha bar's more than 20 versions of Brazil's national cocktail.
Chefs douse entrees in champagne sauce and cast nets of pasta over shrimp, scallops, and other sea treasures at Oh la la! Bistro & Wine Bar, a French-inspired bistro with a light touch and extensive wine bar. Thick filets of salmon swim in a bath of zesty dill sauce, and mussels open their shells to welcome one of six specialty sauces infused with gorgonzola or New Orleans–style spices. A decadent procession of French desserts passes through the kitchen’s triumphal arches, headlined by a perfectly torched crème brûlée and a rich, chocolate mousse garnished with a spattering of soft consonants. A mélange of circular and rectangular wooden tables fills out Oh la la! Bistro’s chic dining room, where artwork hangs from pastel walls, and chairs in a kaleidoscope of colors stand beside each other in mismatched harmony.