At Olly Olly Play Café, pirates bury treasure, knights rescue princesses from dragons, and parents watch as little ones develop social skills through creative play. The interior space looks like a storybook spilled over into reality, with troves of costumes and toys spread beneath a ceiling painted to resemble a cloud-filled sky. A castle stands at the entrance, serving as the junction between different rooms where roads wind through town houses and a kid-size pirate ship lets little ones imagine attacking all-you-can-eat cruise buffets.
Aside from open play, Olly Olly Play Café educates kids during music classes that range from Baby Signing to preteens belting out Broadway songs. Elsewhere, a menu of locally sourced salads and sandwiches fuels visitors and their health-conscious imaginary friends.
Southern-style sides such as collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and sweet potato fries flank Little Ricky's entrees of signature baby back ribs and overstuffed sandwiches. Bartenders nimbly find their way around a vast array of top-shelf liquors to mix drinks such as the North Shore Iced Tea, Ricky's Manhattan, and locally produced North Shore tapwater, but won't turn up their noses at a request to crack one of about 40 bottled beers in stock. With full-wall windows facing a low-lit room done up in black and crimson, Little Ricky's interior combines the professional polish of a national chain with the easygoing local charm of the neighborhood hangout its founders intended it to be.
Featured on the Today show for its friendly and courteous staff, Grand Food Center stocks pots and pantries with essential staples teeming with taste and freshness. An expansive organic section, including fresh produce and packaged products such as Newman's Own organic lemonade and items from Amy's and Morning Star Farms, makes for palate-pleasing meals free of pesticides and genetically modified organisms. Dozens of delicious items are made in-house, including freshly smoked salmon and roast beef, homemade deli creations—from crispy kettle potato chips to ready-made sushi ($3.99–$9.99)—and baked goods such as cookies and specialty cakes emerging warm from in-store ovens like a mother's sentient gingerbread monster.
Fuel Restaurant's kitchen staff prepares a rotating menu of gourmet fare completely on site using quality ingredients from local sources, including produce and eggs from nearby farms, bread from neighboring Heavenly Hearth Bread Company, and meat from Wisconsin. Salads freshly mixed by a house DJ greet dinner guests in three varieties, including a caprese, whose fresh mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes mingle under a drizzling of balsamic vinegar, and a slightly sweet toss of pickled fennel, apple slices, candied walnuts, and goat cheese.