Puerto Vallarta Restaurant incorporates a taste of the Mexican coast into its menu of south-of-the-border dishes made from fresh ingredients. Bright green, orange, and blue plates hoist fresh snapper, clams, mussels, and shrimp. The kitchen’s hot grills leave their trademark lines and phone numbers across flank steak, pork, and chicken, each topped with a different accoutrement, such as jalapeños or pineapple sauce. Chefs also sate classic Mexican cravings with dinner staples, including enchiladas, fajitas, and tacos.
The culinary crew at Chicken Magician dunks skinless chicken, shrimp, and other savories in house-made breading and a sizzling deep fryer to craft a menu of hearty southern fare. Patrons can crunch through the seasoned golden crust of six chunks of fried chicken to reach a fresh poultry core untouched by such common preservation methods as freezing, pickling, or dunking in molten bronze. Then savor a 20-piece order of wings smothered in mild, medium, or radioactive buffalo sauce before digging into a dozen sizzling fried shrimp. Meanwhile, a selection of side orders such as french fries or coleslaw vie for attention by doing cartwheels and backflips onto waiting tongues.
When Palermo’s Bakery opened nearly three decades ago, it was a small storefront affair. Husband and wife team, Joanne and Jerry Bruno, baked small-scale confections at first, but over the years, Jerry became adventurous, constructing elaborate designer cakes that grew more intricate over the years. Twenty-five years later, thanks in part to those same creations, the small Italian bakery has grown into two custom cake shops with more than 50 staff members.
Still helmed by the Bruno family, Palermo's Bakery creates lavish wedding cakes bursting with fondant flowers, and specialty cakes sculpted into an array of improbable shapes, such as 3D champagne bottles. Though baked goods and pastries vary by location, they often include more than 20 flavors of cookies, Italian treats such as cannoli, and kosher desserts such as rugalech. All of the duo’s whimsical creations are available for pick-up or delivery.
Since its founding in 1948, the family-owned Luigi’s Restaurant has created a wide selection of Italian favorites. From house-made gnocchi in a light tomato cream sauce and imported romano cheese to prosciutto- and mozzarella-stuffed pork chops, the menu caters to the entire family’s tastes—also presenting kids’ options. Beyond the family-friendly dining room—whose padded booths look extra comfy juxtaposed with chest-high stone walls—the eatery has a bar. Here, libation-makers pour out wines and offer up a condensed food menu, which does not mean the mozzarella sticks are only 4 millimeters long. They also shake up specialty martinis, such as the flirt-tini—a fruity beverage born of the flirtations between an orange-flavored vodka and pineapple juice.
The plate artists at Dolce Novita Restaurant are committed to sculpting their vibrant edibles out of only the finest-quality ingredients. Friendly servers escort the signature Southern Italian tastes to elegantly dressed tables, where patrons are encouraged to forget about chores, work, and superglue mishaps, and relax. After priming your throat with something from the wine list, coat your palate with the savory flavors of an appetizer, such as shrimp in garlic sauce with saffron rice ($7.95), or fully submerge your senses with an aromatic entree, such as lobster ravioli ($12.95) or veal marsala ($16.95). Beef buffs and blindfolded vegetarians can devour the 24 oz. grilled Black Angus steak ($26.95), served with fried onions and a napkin that can double as a blindfold or a satisfactory drumhead when stretched tautly over the edges of a saucepan. Dolce Novita's spacious interior unites handsome dark woods with crisp white linens, all accented by neatly hung artwork and red-hued drapery. Make use of the restaurant's sophisticated backdrop to rekindle chemistry with an old flame or to inspire your first paperback romance novel—a story of unlikely lovers who, in the end, find themselves stuck to one another under a blanket of melted mozzarella.
At The Mucky Pup, the hot dog chefs pride themselves on providing no-frills comfort food without fancy names and obscure ingredients. But there are two ingredients they'd never add to their hot dogs and fries: squeeze cheese and yellow mustard. Instead, they top their franks with everything from chili, real slices of cheese, hearty mustard, and the house's dirty kraut.
Their signature hot dog is the crack dog, with the juicy hot dog wrapped in a slice of bacon and set upon a scrambled egg patty and slice of cheese. But hot dogs aren't their only specialty. They also cook up triangles of baked mac 'n' cheese and drizzle french fries in a choice of savory sauces. They top fries with cheese and chili to create a classic American side, or use brown gravy and cheese to approximate Canadian poutine fries. The house drinks are just as unpretentious as the food, with bottles of Yoo-hoo and Stewart's soda that bring back memories of childhood without the sadness of getting birthday cards from old toys.