Following a move from New York City, Mark Rebhan and his father Henry opened Alpine Steakhouse in 1975, considering it to be the next progression of a family tradition that dates back hundreds of years to the family’s roots in Germany. Today, 35 years after they cut the metaphorical ribbon, Mark and his newly employed son continue to operate the meat market and steak house by hand-cutting filet mignons, frying up free-range chicken, and crafting their own polish kielbasa and spicy Cajun sausage for hungry diners and unarmed nunchuck assassins. The father-son duo sources many of their meats from Karl Ehmer’s esteemed butcher shop, another family-run New York-based business with a long tradition of meticulous culinary care. True to the family roots, Alpine Steakhouse specializes in German dishes such as knockwurst and wiener schnitzel. The restaurant has also racked up accolades for its eccentric specialty, turducken, which caught the eyes and moistened the tongues of Guy Fieri and his crew on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The delicacy is a Russian nesting doll of avian culinary favorites, with a boneless duck stuffed inside a boneless chicken, which is then stuffed inside a boneless turkey, all finished off with sausage-laden cornbread stuffing, spinach stuffing, parmesan, fresh garlic, andouille sausage, roasted bell peppers, and a silent prayer that someone, someday, will invent an edible kitchen sink. The behemoth bird takes 16 hours to cook, weighs in around 22 pounds, and has only been sighted in the wild twice.
With its cheery red awnings, cool marble tabletops, and bustling coffee bar, Caf? Americano wouldn't be out of place on the narrow side streets of Europe's great capitals. Instead, it brings that same sense of continental sophistication to the artsy avenues of Sarasota's historic Five Points neighborhood. Here, diners pass the breakfast, lunch, and dinner hours with Mediterranean cuisine ranging from prosciutto and gorgonzola omelets to classic steak frites and grilled whole sea bass. As they dine, servers slip past them to a cellar brimming with 300 wines, sourced from renowned growing regions around the globe.
MoZaic's head chef Dylan Elhajoui learned how to cook in his native Fes, Morocco surrounded by a family of chefs and restaurant owners, flavorful foods and fragrances, and bustling markets brimming with fresh produce. He infuses the recipes of his youth with abundant herbs and spices, organic meats, and fresh fish, depending on what can be found in that week's farmers' markets and fishermen's nets. The results are flavorful dishes, such as the seven-vegetable couscous spiced with ginger and lemon confit. Chef Elhajoui and his team also craft delicacies such as the sage-smoked duck breast, which they serve with a sweet side of poached pears, a goat-cheese polenta, and star-anise aigre-doux jus. Guests can conclude meals with one of the house's eclectic desserts, such as the Tangier—a flourless pear-and-walnut cake topped with a dollop of vanilla-bean crème anglaise and toasted-coconut ice cream.
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.
The forecast at Tsunami Sushi Bar & Grill never changes: there’s always a heavy chance of sushi. More than 30 sushi and sashimi creations take up a good chunk of the menu, with ingredients ranging from smoked salmon to spicy scallop. Diners can set aside their chopsticks and slice into hearty orders of filet mignon teriyaki or Gal Be—Korean barbecued short ribs served with steamed greens. Tsunami serves its artful plates in a dining room that This Week in Sarasota calls “dark, rich, and casually elegant,” making the restaurant an ideal spot for a romantic date or suit fitting.
“I believe that if you’re not cooking with all five senses, you’re not cooking,” declares Derek Barnes in his feature for Sarasota’s Hot Chefs. It’s this maxim that earned him a lifetime of culinary achievement, starting with a four-year stint under the expertise of Emeril Lagasse and leading to a Zagat rating for his own restaurant and the title of semifinalist in the 2009 James Beard Awards. Derek channels these achievements into the innovative dishes he creates at his eponymous restaurant, which specializes in what he calls progressive American cuisine. That “progressive” moniker can mean a lot of things, whether it’s anointing a dish of foie gras with hazelnut honey and walnut streusel or braising a savory lamb shank in the tart flavors of lime and cilantro. Unlike a time-traveling Byzantine explorer, the chef doesn’t obsess over his plentiful spice cabinet, as the menu’s simple-grill selection serves up fresh cuts of steak, fish, and poultry in a simple, unadulterated form. Each flavor note finds its ideal complement in a wine list that features 100 bottles, many of which are available by the glass.