When Dean Lavallee opened the first Park Avenue BBQ in 1988, he had one lofty mission in mind: to serve the best barbecue ever made. Despite the seemingly impossible nature of his goal, he and his team continue to rise to the challenge, dry-rubbing their meats to smoke and char-grill on-site. They use all-natural, grain-fed, domestic pork for their traditional and Carolina-style barbecue pork—pulled by hand—and only use fresh, never-frozen ribs that are smoked daily over hickory. As diners chow down on hearty homestyle sides, seafood platters, or buffalo wings tossed in one of six sauces, they can admire the dining room's pictures of their city's most prominent people, places, and robot mayors.
Park Avenue BBQ arranges their meats into fun, hearty dishes such as the Dempublican sandwich, which combines smoked pork and beef brisket separated only by cheese and bacon to create a sizeable sandwich that the team has dubbed "porkalicious". They whip up Funnybonz, which look and taste like miniature ribs, using tender, lean pork that's prepared by cooking up regular ribs beneath a shrink ray. In 2008, their dedication to each dish caused Cityvoter's users to name Park Avenue BBQ the best barbecue in town.
Italian chefs Giordy and Raffaele recreate the experience of dining in Milan, not just by following authentic recipes, but by serving those dishes in a bistro-style dining room rich with dark hardwood floors and wooden wall paneling. Elegant chandeliers with individual fez-like lampshades dangle above beige tablecloths, grape-hued napkins, and a piano tucked into a corner. The chefs work in the open kitchen as diners dig into mountains of squid-ink gnocchi and homemade tortelli accented by sage and nutmeg. While individual pizzas bake in the oven and whole Mediterranean sea bass debone tableside, diners can sip on a La Scaletta signature skinny cocktail, shaken and poured into a martini glass by a trained Pilates instructor.:m]]
When The Melting Pot originally opened in 1975 just outside Orlando, the location was cozy and quaint, but diners had only three options: swiss-cheese fondue, beef fondue, or chocolate fondue. However, as the restaurant grew in popularity, so did its menu selection and atmosphere. The restaurant first expanded four years later under the leadership of a Melting Pot waiter and enterprising college student named Mark Johnston, who teamed up with his brothers Mike and Bob to open a new outpost in Tallahassee. This location grew in reputation to pave the way for future franchise expansion. Today, the company—now owned by the trio of siblings—reigns as the premier fondue, wine, and drink restaurant, stretching across North America with more than 140 restaurants linked by underground tunnels. The restaurant's menu has also ballooned, and patrons can now expect six varieties of hot dipping cheese paired with salads, meats, and molten chocolate.
On a given night, groups of foodies gather around tables to nosh on signature four-course meals, from cheese-fondue appetizers and various salads to steaks and seafood cooked in a choice of healthy broth or oil. Birthday revelers and couples can share decadent evenings at private tables, capping off meals with chocolate desserts that have defined The Melting Pot for decades.
Hunkered down within a plaza in North Palm Beach, Allora Pizzeria & Ristorante engages appetites near and far by sending hand-tossed pies out the door for local delivery and simultaneously seating customers in a homestyle dining room. The menu's notoriously fresh fare serves up southern Italian staples with more than 20 entrees that weave pastas, poultry, and seafood in and out of bold marinara, alfredo, and wine sauces. To accentuate its homey atmosphere, the eatery employs a friendly staff and boasts warm décor, including a wood bookcase and wall-mounted light fixtures that give off a romantic glow. Allora pairs its meals with the authentic sounds of instrumental Italian ballads played over a speaker system that learned Italian from a native speaker.