Landry's, Inc. operates more than 40 restaurant brands with only two main goals: good food and good memories. Thankfully, each of their venues has a signature element that's hard to forget, whether the Oceanaire's fresh seafood?flown in daily?or Rainforest Cafe's animatronic wildlife that's almost as realistic as the Amazon's wind-up monkeys. Steak and seafood spots feature prominently on the list of Landry's locations, including Morton's The Steakhouse, Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse, and McCormick & Schmick's Seafood & Steaks. But there are standouts in other genres, too, such as the Italian trattoria known as Grotto.
The cooks at Caf? Gabbiano ensure that their Italian creations taste authentic by following a wealth of family recipes. In addition to crafting classics, such as lobster ravioli and chicken breast saut?ed with marsala wine, they keep diners on their toes by preparing hand-cut and milk-fed 14-ounce veal chops a new way every night. According to YourObserver.com, more than 220 wines complement meals, and sommelier Marc Grimaud prudently pairs wines and dishes upon request.
Feasts unfold across 4,000 square feet, including an outdoor, climate-controlled patio and private dining rooms modeled after wine cellars. For visitors who prefer meals on the go, chefs pack baskets with appetizers and bottles of wine?ideal for romantic dinners on the beach, with quick bites between low and high tides.
Oftentimes, those who find success in a given venture continually try to replicate their initial victory. But when Sean Murphy and Susan Timmins, owners of the award-winning Beach Bistro, were conceptualizing a new restaurant, they decided to go in a brand new direction. That direction was Eat Here, a more casual eatery with chef-crafted food in a charmingly stripped-down atmosphere. Instead of elegant stemware, there's mismatched cutlery from vintage stores; rather than fresh roses, there are sunflowers in old wine bottles.
The approach is working?Eat Here has emulated its big sibling's spot in Florida Trend's Golden Spoon Hall of Fame by winning Best New Restaurant awards from the same publication. The menu has a definite sense of humor (see the Better Than Any Frenchman's onion soup) and exciting presentations of luxury ingredients, such as lobster tacos and ice cubes shaped like gold bars. Complementing the selection of wild-caught seafood, wood stone pizzas, and revived American favorites are handcrafted cocktails, including lemongrass caipirinhas and watermelon mojitos.
Despite the nonchalance of its name, meals at the Blasé Café & Martini Bar are anything but expected. The casual retreat serves up seafood favorites with uniquely flavorful touches, from towers of crab cakes with up-to-date permits to New Orleans-style salmon and shrimp in a spicy marinara sauce. Land-sourced selections go beyond the average burger with unique proteins such as roast duckling, racks of New Zealand lamb, and flame-grilled filet mignon.
Of course, no self-respecting martini bar would be complete without a bar menu full of martinis. Mixing specialists shake up their signature drinks in three styles: traditional, sweet and sour, and dessert. Options such as the Ruby Red martini—a blend of Ruby Red vodka, Ruby Red schnapps, grapefruit juice, and a splash of pomegranate—and the decadent graham cracker-rimmed Key Lime martini provide empty hands with the ideal toasting and sipping accessory.
At Selva, Latin America meets the United States atop plates splashed with "Peruvian cooking reinterpreted with polish and sophistication," according to the Herald-Tribune. Dubbed Nuevo Latino cuisine, the menu's signature ceviches and seafood entrees hint at eastern origins due to Peru's influx of Asian immigrants. The Ceviche de Ostras, for example, is tinged with ginger and rocoto, a Peruvian pepper, divided into "three white espresso cups…each containing oysters floating in leche de tigre, or tiger's milk." Joined by more familiar dishes such as chili-glazed Chilean salmon and bone-in veal chops, the ceviches claim a large chunk of the menu. The wine list contains exotic offerings from Argentina and Italy.
The dining room vibrates around an aesthetic centerpiece, a glass wall glazed with chunks of color that conjure imagines of a swirling mosaic. With auburn walls and plush couches, the lounge area facilitates chatter and nickel-filled pillow fights as live DJs spin tracks until 1 a.m. on weekends. Outside, water spills over a wall beside the patio seating.
Some restaurant owners prefer to stay behind the scenes. Achille and Massimo Nigri are not those people. At Cafe Amici, each guest is greeted “like a long-lost friend,” according to one happy customer. The homey eatery not only makes diners feel welcome, but also sates appetites with authentic Italian eats such as homemade lasagna, gnocchi with crabmeat, and wild mushroom ravioli. One whole wall inside the sun-soaked dining room is covered with framed accolades from local media outlets and taste buds with the ability to type.