When Sagi Rochman was drawing up the plans for his new restaurant, he knew he wanted it to be cool. So he named it Sababa, which is Hebrew for "cool"?a designation the chic lounge has easily lived up to. The space brims with plush curtains, modern art, and sleek couches, where groups sit as they sip on craft beers or one of Sababa's award-winning specialty martinis. The spa martini is particularly refreshing, a blend of cucumbers and freshly muddled strawberries that cools patrons as they sit on the outdoor patio under the rays of the Earth's only remaining sun. "The" Margarita is also popular with guests, an unorthodox mixture of tequila, Grand Marnier, freshly pureed passion fruit, and pineapple juice, which one regular swears is the best margarita outside of Mexico.
The cocktail list gets some stiff competition from the food menu. To build up the gustatory roster, Rochman enlisted the talents of celebrity chef Eric Greenspan, a contestant on Food Network programs such as The Next Iron Chef. Inspired by Rochman's heritage, Greenspan constructed a fusion of Mediterranean and Israeli flavors, resulting in dishes such as goat-cheese pizzas and seared ahi tuna with harissa mashed potatoes. There are plenty of small plates as well, including grilled eggplant with tahini and chicken kabobs with an olive-date sauce. As if the inspired tapas and lauded cocktails weren't enough, the lounge regales diners with a slew of events held throughout the week, including wine flights on Tuesdays and dance parties with live DJs on Fridays and Saturdays.
Every aspect of Kelly's of Naples reflects the essence of a swanky steakhouse. From the white tablecloths and leather booths and seats to the wood-paneled walls and dim, hanging lights in front of a full bar, the restaurant carries an air of sophistication matched only be its menu. Kelly's chefs don't rely on fancy preparation to impress their guests; instead they rely on the natural flavors in their ingredients, with steaks such as a bone-in porter or filet mignon not bearing any excess seasoning. Chefs prepare some steaks tableside as well, such as the steak diane, and the menu's entrees even dip into the sea with crab legs, lobster tail, and a rotating selection of fish flanks. Choice entrees are served at lunch as well, and Kelly's Sunday brunch offers a unique twist on many traditional breakfast dishes such as the jalapeño eggs benedict. Bar-goers can keep it low-key with a menu of sandwiches and appetizers ranging from escargot to prime rib, and the barkeeps can stir up any drink with their huge stores of liquor. To complement the food, live music fills the restaurant every evening from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The event planners behind QueenVee Entertainment throw themed bashes that immerse partygoers in elaborate experiences. Founded by CEO Joanna Vargas—a producer, dancer, and choreographer who started her career by staging events such as The King of Pop, a dance-tribute show to Michael Jackson—QueenVee has staged past events such as Phenomena, a mash-up of a dance showcase and a fashion show that benefited Dance for Peace Charity. Ongoing events include booze cruises aboard a three-story Grand Romance cruise ship in the style of a 19th-century steamboat, complete with an open-air top deck and a team of acrobatic Mark Twain impersonators. Further amenities entertain the up to 320 passengers, including two full-service bars, a professional DJ playing over a large dance floor, and a professional photographer who posts images on Facebook. Raffle and door prizes reward attendees with keepsakes, and tables and booths offer respite from the dance floor and a private place to run Y2K safety drills.
Executive chef Rahm Fama's career has rocketed him from his mother's cattle ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to the limelight of his Food Network TV series Meat & Potatoes. Still, he has not forgotten the herds that helped him get where he is today, and he keeps those memories close while leading Culture 22. An ardent devotee of carnivore-pleasing cuisine, chef Rahm stocks his menu with porterhouses, bacon-topped burgers, and seafood.
Peppercorn-crusted 12-ounce new york steak au poivre bathes in a cognac sauce, and a dozen oysters paired with inventive dipping sauces from the raw bar set taste buds out to sea. Rahm's Famous New Mexican–style green-chile burger imbues a half-pound of beef with the piquant flavors of his native state, accompanied by french fries that, like wooden boards in a martial-arts studio, are hand-cut. As diners divvy up jumbo cocktail shrimp, servers ferry cocktails and beer to ebony four-top tables set aglow by chandelier and candle lighting.
"If you succeed, it will change your lives." Accountant Afram Nimeh uttered those words to his two sons in 1993 after investing the last of his savings into a failing restaurant. Though he passed away the following year, his sons?Joseph and Steven?carried on his legacy, Chicken Dijon Rotisserie & Grill. Today, they have expanded the family franchise to five locations, where customers gather to sample casual, healthy Mediterranean cuisine without having to build their own private jets. The kitchen staff efficiently assembles gyro and chicken platters flanked by sides such as rice pilaf, mediterranean potato salad, and stuffed grape leaves, as well as sandwiches topped with chicken, sliced gyro meat, or falafel.
Chef Rafi did not create Fresh Kabobs to get rich. He finds his reward in the opportunity to share authentic Indian dishes, such as tandoori chicken breast and grilled whole tilapia, with families in a casual, welcoming atmosphere. Inside his kitchen, chef Rafi draws from his pantry packed with USDA-choice Angus beef, fresh vegetables, and lamb imported from New Zealand to prepare each dish to order. Seated at dark-wood tables in the brightly lit dining area, patrons split spicy curry bowls brimming with basmati rice and sip mango lassis freshly blended with yogurt and spices. The dining area's high ceilings seem to extend to the stratosphere, past the red-tiled eaves and sky-blue murals dotted with fluffy white clouds shaped like cubes of paneer.