A venerable textbook of sushi history, the engaging Chef Joe brings more than 20 years of Japanese culinary experience to the Mt. Fuji cutting boards. Each sushi-making class begins with the arts-and-crafts basics of fish-related construction using nori, rice, and rubber cement to build delicious rolls ready-made for consumption. Chef Joe will also clue you in on the best places to buy ingredients for three sushi mainstays: the classic california roll, spicy-tuna hand rolls, and salmon nigiri. The BYOB policy lets you alternate your detailed maki handiwork with sips of your favorite wine or beer (Mt. Fuji supplies the glasses, along with additional alcohol, which may be purchased on-site). Once you've finished exercising your chopsticks, show off your ability to shatter glass with a well-chosen Mariah Carey ballad at the restaurant-sponsored karaoke party after class.
"A lot of our recipes come from family," explains owner Adam Wheaton. "Alicia's cheesecake is my wife's sister's, our italian stuffed mushrooms come from an aunt, my wife's mom…has probably put her hands or ideas into everything we serve." Working from these recipes and others, the chefs grill up steaks, broil lobster tails, and make tortilla chips, crab cakes, and barbecue sauces in-house. Additionally, they help to accommodate restricted diets by forging a number of dishes devoid of gluten and chicken thighs that show too much skin.
This commitment to family is a recurring theme for the steak house. When the Wheaton family's daughter, Madeline, was diagnosed with severe epilepsy at age 3, doctors said the condition would steadily worsen over time and would likely claim her life in her teens. To say she proved medical professionals wrong is an understatement—she has only demonstrated improvement since then and continues to exceed expectations. The Wheatons, of course, wholeheartedly rallied behind their daughter, naming the family's restaurant after her and partnering with local charities to help raise awareness of and fight against epilepsy.
When it came time for the team at Johnny Carino’s to come up with some new recipes, they began rifling through their personal cooking histories. Executive chef Chris Peitersen took his first kitchen job at a barbecue joint when he was 14, so he was primed to create italian baby back ribs. By infusing brown sugar barbecue sauce with balsamic vinegar imported from Modena, he’s given the marinade a more acidic bite than typical barbecue sauces. As the ribs slowly roast and char on an oak grill, he bastes on his creation before finishing the dish with a dusting of parmesan.
The ribs are one of Carino’s many menu items that follow the restaurants’ approach of classic Italian preparations modified by forward-thinking flavor combinations. Diners will find a Black Angus burger capped with mozzarella and fried pepperoni, or sautéed tilapia spiced with garlic and jalapeño. Other signature dishes include the 16-layer lasagna, Skilletinis that sizzle with spaghetti and a choice of meat, and tiramisu made from scratch.
Andaman Kitchen’s chefs fill their pantries with locally sourced ingredients to craft dishes that strike the balance of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors essential in Thai cooking. They simmer tender pieces of chicken and pork in creamy red or green curries and drizzle lemony Thai-style dressing onto troops of deep-fried shrimp. Out in the dining room, sky blue walls and decorative Eastern statues surround tables scattered with a variety of noodle dishes, from plates of pad thai to bowls of glass-noodle soup that must be handled carefully to avoid shattering.
Sandwich wizards at Georgio’s Subs pack tender cuts of meat and crisp veggies between twin slices of a choice of artisanal breads. Diners sling tongue lassos around the menu’s untamed chicken bacon ranch sub, a bucking bronco of seasoned Tyson chicken and bacon doused in ranch dressing like a victorious chef's head coach. The Texas spicy barbecue chicken sub slathers strips of chicken breast with pepper jack cheese and Georgio’s house-made spicy barbecue sauce. Verdant vegetarian subs sandwich sun-kissed produce between a choice of breads that includes focaccia and sourdough, and the pizza sub wears an impressive costume of pepperoni, marinara, and a mozzarella-moustache disguise.