John Pappas didn’t know much English when he first arrived on American soil, but he did know the secrets of cooking excellent Greek cuisine. The native Greek passed on his recipes and expert techniques to his son Nicholas, who would go on to open his own Mediterranean restaurant—Greek City Cafe.
Deep in his restaurant’s kitchen, Nicholas and his chefs fold juicy meats and fresh vegetables into a variety of Greek-inspired paninis, wraps, and salads. They layer pitas with juicy slices of shaved lamb and beef before adding dollops of flavorful tzatziki and creamy greek dressing. To craft specialty pizzas, the chefs shower soft pita shells in mixed cheeses, diced tomatoes, and grilled chicken. When discussing these dishes with a reporter from Westchase Patch, Nicholas explained, “We take a mainstream item and put a Greek twist to it. I make them feel comfortable, but when they taste it they realize they've never experienced that flavor.”
In the casual dining room, where sunlight streams onto soft blue and green walls, guests can linger over their last bites of these inventive eats before ordering desserts such as baklava. Countertop seating surrounds a lush olive tree in the center of the room, which was imported from Greece and lives off of sunlight and Greek wine.
At the age of 13, Rosario Fierro created his first pasta dish. The Napoli-born chef continued studying Italian culinary traditions as he grew up, eventually taking over the kitchen at Villa Verde Café. He pairs baby clams with freshly cut fettuccine noodles, covers sliced eggplant with his own marinara sauce, and works chicken, artichoke, and cheese inside homemade spinach ravioli. Chef Rosario also gladly takes off-menu requests from patrons, as long as his kitchen has the necessary ingredients and the request has been authorized by a notary public. Out in the dining room, flames flicker in the brick fireplace, and paintings of the countryside hang above tables.
Founded nearly 25 years ago on a frozen foundation of nonporous, 5-degree granite, Cold Stone Creamery has blossomed into a nationally recognized ice-cream parlor distinguished by its daily creations of sweet treats. Fruit, nuts, and candy collaborate with ice-cream flavors such as french vanilla, sweet cream, and cake batter to manifest a signature sundae or a personalized creation made to match customers' tastes and 5th-birthday-party footage. Smoothies and shakes sate sippers, and fruity sorbets, nonfat ice creams, and tangy frozen yogurt satisfy the need for healthy indulgences.
At Pit Boss Bar-B-Q, oak-fueled flames sear slabs of meat, sealing in their natural juices and imparting a distinctive smoky flavor. To season meats, chefs draw inspiration from numerous barbecue traditions across the South. They slather pork and beef with vinegar-based sauce for sandwiches in the North Carolina style, and they top chopped barbecue beef with grilled onions and cheese for a taste of the southwest. And because a trip to a smokehouse would be incomplete without sampling some homestyle sides, Pit Boss rounds out platters with baked beans, fried okra, red-skinned-potato salad, collard greens, and more. Additionally, chefs offer their culinary creations to celebrations and drawn-out court arraignments, gladly customizing catering menus to suit partygoers’ tastes.
The staff at Fro-Yo Yogurt oversees an expansive, self-serve dessert bar teeming with 15 rotating frozen yogurts and more than 70 toppings. Guests swirl low-fat, dairy-free, and sugar-free yogurts into their cups, burying such gourmet flavors as pistachio, pumpkin pie, and chocolate in as many toppings as they like. Spoons clatter in dishes of fruits and candies, ideal for topping the desserts or putting into your gas tank if you have a crush on a mechanic. Ice sings against glasses and steam hisses as baristas in the shop craft cappuccinos, macchiatos, and smoothies, as well as tea drinks and indulgent dessert-inspired coffee frappes.
The grams of protein add up at Kally K's Steakery & Fishery, where the staff serves a surfeit of burgers, seafood, and steaks. Though the menus at the eatery's two locations differ slightly, they both showcase salmon, shrimp, sole, crab, scrod, and hefty portions of new york strip steak and roast prime rib of beef. The Spring Hill location's specialty is a baked fillet of flounder stuffed with shrimp and crabmeat au gratin. Both locations feature a salad bar for patrons who are 1/16 brontosaurus.