Dale Del Bello remembers everything about his first hibachi experience. While stationed in Korea as a part of the Air Force National Guard, Dale and a group of friends visited Tokyo on leave. They followed a traditional route among his fellow service people, which took him to a hibachi restaurant. Immediately he sensed that he’d stumbled upon more than just dinner. The chefs’ showmanship fascinated him as they seared meats and vegetables on their tabletop grills, allowing guests to sample forkfuls directly off the 600-degree surface. After returning to Buffalo, New York, in 1971, Dale opened his first Arigato location, attempting to recreate what made that dining experience so remarkable. Since then, he has distilled the authentic experience into something that families can enjoy without traveling abroad, establishing Arigato restaurants throughout New York and Florida and staffing them with more than 60 chefs from Japan.
Surrounded by 8–10 diners, these chefs act not only as the restaurant’s culinary creators, but also as showmen and magicians of sorts, dexterously slicing ingredients, flipping shrimp tails into their hats, and conjuring soy sauce out of thin air. Away from the flaming tabletops, meanwhile, bartenders make use of their own skill sets as they mix specialty cocktails, which occasionally use splashes of plum wine or sake to imbue familiar-sounding drinks with new dimension.
Bill Shumate's career as a restaurateur began in 1964 when he opened a small burger shack that catered to the hearty appetites of University of Oklahoma students. After spending the next several decades opening and operating eateries, Shumate decided that his next venture should somehow honor his burger roots. He partnered with Joanie Corneil in 2006 and developed a concept choosing the name Square 1 Burgers to reflect this full-circle journey. Unlike that original restaurant, though, Square 1 Burgers grew over the years, eventually expanding to several locations throughout west central Florida.
Although the concept was intended to be a return to basics, Square 1 isn't constrained by traditional conventions. Patties of Meyer's all-natural red Angus beef, Kobe, lamb, ground buffalo, and portobello mushroom caps all appear between the buns, providing a wealth of options to consider before even thinking about toppings. This eclectic spirit is also apparent in the menu's selection of appetizers, which includes everything from sun-dried tomato and artichoke hummus to homemade double-dipped onion rings. Even the milkshakes made with Blue Bell ice cream seem like faithful renditions of an American classic at first. However, the grown-up versions with Baileys, vodka, and Kahlua or brandy, cr?me de cacao continue to demonstrate Square 1 Burgers' playful spirit.
Tour de Pizza reimagines a traditionally hearty comfort food as a part of a healthy diet, with chefs creating mouthwateringly fresh pies from wholesome veggies, olive oil, and roma tomatoes. The restaurant takes its name from owner Matt McClellan's 2008 bike journey from St. Petersburg to New York, which saw him stopping at pizzerias on the way to prove that pizza can be part of a health-conscious lifestyle and not just the food of choice for couch potatoes or rebellious cartoon teenagers. Diners can sink their teeth into pizza that McClellan ate on his diet such as the traditional margherita pizzas topped with slices of roma tomato and slivers of fresh basil, or sample a Pearsciutto pie crowned with pears, prosciutto, and gorgonzola cheese.
In addition to supping on the handmade breakfast and dinner pies that constitute McClellan's 30-day pizza diet, guests can munch on stuffed strombolis and meatball subs, or jump-start their appetites with savory garlic knots and cheese bread.
Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill sprang from humble beginnings. What started in 1992 as a concrete-block space with 75 seats has since grown into a two-story establishment whose sprawling indoor and outdoor seating areas encompass almost two city blocks. Like the growth of the business, the bar and grill's building materials reflect input from the surrounding community: the wood flooring was compiled from area gymnasiums, and the walls are paneled with hardwood from the old All Children's Hospital.
Owner Mark Ferguson continues to fuel his success with more than 70 TVs, classic bar eats, and a calendar filled with live-music and trivia nights. In addition to fans, the restaurant has been known to serve renowned politicians and?according to the Tampa Bay Times?Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. Perhaps the duo chose the eatery for its paparazzi-curbing underground tunnel, which leads beneath 1st Avenue South to the stadium.
String lights glimmer on the hunter-green walls like stars through evening foliage. A large mural depicts a distant city against a burgundy-and-gray dusk. Some of these accents date back to Cafe Vienna’s inception 40 years ago, but the torch has since been passed to Tony Klobuchar, whose son Steve mans the kitchen. From those clattering confines spill the aromas of time-tested Austro-Hungarian cuisine, including steaming bratwurst platters and marinated herring. Though the servers move quickly, there's much that goes into the preparation of these dishes; tender beef-loin sauerbraten, for example, marinates in traditional spices and red-wine vinegar for a minimum of five days. Above plates of grilled pork schnitzel, imported German brews from Spaten and Franziskaner crash together, sending flecks of foam to tablecloths in the deep red hues of a fire truck that has been driving around with hair curlers on.
Led by head shushi chef Toshiaki Mizutani, a Tokyo native with more than 30 years of experience, the chefs at Tokyo Bay Japanese Restaurant craft sushi rolls, teriyaki dishes, and crispy tempura-fried entrees from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Its most popular rolls include the Wuz Up Be roll, stuffed with spicy yellowtail, avocado, and green wasabi-flavored tobiko, and the Deadliest Catch roll with snow crab, avocado, mayo, and roe, all topped with grilled eel and a savory sauce. Fuji rolls are filled, volcano-style, with spicy hot sauce, and after taking a bite, diners can put out the flames that erupt from their mouths with Japanese and domestic beer, sake, and wine.
In addition to sushi, guests feast on steak, chicken, and seafood in housemade teriyaki sauce. They slurp down noodle dishes or crunch into meats, vegetables, and tofu coated in tempura batter and fried to a light, crispy finish.