Though Cactus Rose Restaurant & Tequila Bar is only a teenager in dog years, owners Maria and Katerina Pertesis are no strangers to the restaurant business with more than 40 years experience. The upscale eatery’s cuisine is best summed up as contemporary Southwestern, thanks to Executive Chef Norberto Lucero’s skillful incorporation of Spanish, Mexican, and Southwestern flavors.
A Mexican native, Lucero has fun with his food. One peek at the menu reveals the usual aspects of Latin cuisine: fish tacos, paella dotted with prawns, little-neck clams, mussels, and black-iron skillet fajitas—sizzling with caramelized onions and bell peppers. Yet, for every expected entree, Lucero offers a surprise in the form of baby back ribs in an orange barbecue glaze, skirt steak with an orange chipotle mojo, and tequila chicken—a free-range, chicken stuffed with chorizo and manchego cheese. Like the chicken, all of Lucero’s meats are quality; he serves only wild-caught organic seafood, grass-fed beef, and free-range chicken.
While the menu impresses, it’s only half of Cactus Rose’s appeal. The tequila bar is also a contender, as it’s stocked with 50 varieties of tequila, and bartenders dispense freshly concocted margaritas mulled from fresh squeezed lime juice and fruits. Cactus Rose delivers an inviting atmosphere with rustic wood furnishings and cowhide chairs surrounded by red, orange, and a yellow hand-carved stained-glass mosaic. A warm large outdoor fireplace on the patio keeps patrons toasty during the winter months, and an outdoor patio—bumping with live music—convinces them to temporarily forget their fear of birds’ nests and dine al fresco during the summer.
Chicken entrees at Mumbai Times traverse both familiar and foreign territory. There's the ubiquitous chicken tikka masala, but also chicken chutneywala, prepped with curried mango and mint, and chicken makmura, a traditional Calcutta Jewish dish with almonds and raisins. Yet, the chefs ensure that the chicken's origins are far from unknown?any chicken dish can be made with free-range, on-the-bone poultry for a small fee.
In fact, free-range chicken grilled in the tandoori oven is a chef's specialty. It's but one of many dishes on a menu that spans India's northern and southern regions. To complement mainstays of vindaloo and rogan josh, the list boasts zesty kebabs and exotic sauces, such as the coconut tamarind variant found in the goan fish curry. An expansive vegetarian segment features bindi masala sasuralwali, or, as the accompanying text puts it, "okra you would eat at your in-laws' house."
For those who'd rather scope out their food in advance, a weekday lunch or weekend brunch buffet that takes place beyond the restaurant's mosaic archways hosts a sprawl of platters. The lunch buffet includes a glass of wine, whereas the brunch buffet comes with champagne, a better fizzy morning drink than seltzer coffee.
Kansas City isn?t in Kansas, and it certainly doesn?t reside on the East Coast. But its cuisine does. Diners only need to step inside the wood-covered confines of Bobby Q's Bodacious BBQ & Grill, a family-friendly barbecue joint known for tender, pit-smoked meats smothered in award-winning sauces and celebrating their 8th year in the business. The eatery?s imported culinary stylings have earned it a spot on the Food Network, as well as the title ?Best of the Gold Coast? from readers of Westport Magazine, who were undoubtedly delighted by favored items such as the slow-smoked pulled pork and the grilled Gulf Shrimp. Roasted atop an open beer can for proper moisture, their beer can chicken is far more delicious than proving you are not too chicken to eat a beer can. Their half-pound burger patties, meanwhile, come with zesty toppings such as Smokehouse chili, blue cheese, and frizzled onions. On weekends, the barn-esque dining room and outdoor patio transform into a bustling bar, with live music from local bands and house specialty drinks, such as lemonade infused with huckleberry vodka, or down-home punch, a mix of Jack Daniels, apricot brandy, orange juice and Sierra Mist.
Jazzeria owner Matt Criscuolo Jr. has been hanging out at pizzerias since he was 6 years old. After emigrating from Italy, his father opened a pizzeria where the entire family worked, giving little Matt an up-close look at the business of turning his mom?s recipes into feasts fit for the old country. Inspired both by his family?s livelihood and his passion for jazz, Criscuolo began his own pizzeria, where he now puts his more than 30 years of pizza-slinging experience to work each day.
Inspired both by family recipes and lessons he learns on his yearly trips to Amalfi, Italy, Jazzeria?s dishes derive their flavors from authentic Italian ingredients. Hand-tossed pizza dough transforms into pies including pesto pizza or the pescatore pizza topped with a trio of baby clams, roasted garlic, and bacon. Diners can enjoy dishes named after jazz greats?such as Lady Day?s Bolognese pasta?or grab a calzone to stuff in their pockets for later. In addition to housing tasty bites of the Mediterranean, Jazzeria locations live up to their name with live jazz performances three times a week.
Inspired by his upbringing in southern Italy, La Villa Trattoria chef Michael Sornatale crafts a rotating menu of seasonally inspired fare with free-range and organic ingredients. Unexpected combinations of simple ingredients, such as white-wine sauce and hot cherry peppers on the pollo e salsiccia scarpariello, give his traditional Italian dishes a creative verve. Sornatale also strives to incorporate less common tastes, including wild game such as roe deer and rabbit, without diminishing the accessibility of his menu. Chefs also concoct low-fat and heart-healthy items, and provide a list of Italian wines carefully selected to complement each entree.
At lunchtime, La Villa Trattoria’s dining area fills with natural light softly diffused with sheer, white curtains. Artist Kim Salander’s murals of the small Italian fishing village of Portofino combine with ambient fog horns to create a seaside ambiance indoors.
The New York Times praised Tengda's Milford location—one of eight in a small regional chain—as "perfect for young-at-heart couples and groups," with a high-energy atmosphere bubbling around cuisine it called "very good." The chefs draw gustatory inspiration from China, Japan, and Thailand as they create their expansive menus of Pan-Asian fare, which include fiery stir-fries, grilled meats, and sushi and provide reading material for shy diners throughout a full meal. Moody red and yellow lights dapple sleek black tables and booths, and might occasionally catch knife-flipping and drink-slinging theatrics behind the sushi and cocktail bars.