Tongues of flame twist in a fireplace, hinting at the warmth filling the bustling kitchen at MK Valencia. Rail lighting spills a blue aura over dishes that draw from myriad culinary traditions. Mediterranean flavors shine through in salmon drizzled in a pesto sauce and lamb osso bucco. In the dining room, glasses clink occasionally like a xylophonist failing a performance review, setting a tempo for the wait staff, which totes roasted salmon in a pesto sauce.
A curtain of bubbles rises up through champagne cocktails in lively colors that match the crescent-shaped orange booths or electric-blue wine racks. During warmer months, the murmur of conversation spills out onto a patio equipped with a 75" TV. Inside, the lounge also offers two 60" TVs.
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.
Founded in 1954 by James McLamore and David Edgerton, Burger King rapidly expanded from humble beginnings as a lone burger joint to more than 12,400 locations across 79 countries today, making it the second-largest fast-food-hamburger chain in the world. Its signature burger—the Whopper—consists of one to three flame-broiled, quarter-pound beef patties crowned with a miniature fedora and a fully customizable array of toppings such as tomatoes, onions, and dill pickles. Focused on continual improvement, the chain recently reinvented the fries that accompany each value meal, outfitting the spud slices with a thicker cut of potato for a fluffier texture on the inside and crispier golden-brown exterior. A spread of decadent desserts including dutch apple pie and an Oreo sundae keeps sweet teeth from elongating into fangs, and made-to-order breakfast sandwiches clasp eggs, american cheese, and bacon, sausage, or ham between two halves of a flaky croissant to round out the speedy menu.
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.
Chef Sammy Gnasso is no stranger to reinvention. Over the course of his distinguished career, he's worked at some of New York's most distinguished restaurants, catered for a luxurious corporate yacht, and has been featured on his own cable television cooking show. But what's closest to Gnasso's heart isn't the spotlight—it's southern Italian steak and seafood.
The chef indulges his passions (and finally returns to his Italian roots) at In Napoli, where he spends his time perfecting steaks to serve alongside lobster, veal, and a number of wildly inventive pasta dishes. And if those aren't enough to keep diners coming back for more, In Napoli also features fresh toasted garlic bread and house salad featuring their Basil Vinaigrette house dressing that can be purchased at time of visit, which should do the trick.