BackStreet Grille and Sports Bar's grill artists forge an array of flame-kissed dishes, which patrons tear into beneath a projection screen at the restaurant's bar. Half-pound USDA-certified burgers ($8.99–$9.99) waltz from the char grill sporting appetite-enhancing accessories as impressive as a boutonnière made of string cheese. The caesar burger brims with parmesan, bacon, and dressing ($9.99), and the South of the Border burger flaunts a crown of guacamole and salsa ($9.49). Diners spelunk the sauce-covered cliffs of wings ($9.99 for 10), which chefs bake and then fry in rice-bran oil, or boneless chicken tenders prone to avalanches in flavors such as Superman hot, teriyaki, and raspberry ($7.99). Grilled mahi mahi executes solo synchronized swimming routines through warm currents of Malibu rum sauce ($15.99) as diners recline in the restaurant's vast expanses of polished wood and earth-toned furnishings.
Casa L’Italien’s Olympian–quality dough throwers flatten their creations into New York–style disks and slather on a blend of sauce and cheese engineered to complement a multitude of entrees prepared in the style of the old country. Customers can begin their gastro journey with a small or large pizza ($11.99–$13.99) and create splattered masterpieces with a multifarious array of toppings, including pepperoni, baked eggplant, roasted red peppers, and buffalo chicken ($1.50–$2 each). A series of signature pizzas piled high with leaning towers of harmonized toppings features such circular savories as the meat-and-veggie-loaded House Special ($15.99–$19.99). Calzones and subs such as the Steak Bomb philly cheesesteak ($7.29–$9.29) set off explosions of cheese in happy stomachs, and traditional favorites such as the baked eggplant parmigiana ($14.99) and chicken marsala ($16.99) recall simpler times spent sunburning in the Sicilian summer. Like an uncanny reincarnation of the hit TV show Cheers, Casa L’Italien serves cuisine so enthralling that you might not notice the eerie laugh track in the background.
To say that SunSentinel columnist Chan Lowe gave Efes Bistro a glowing review would be an understatement: the writer said that "everything was perfect, down to the last detail," and that "every savory, uniquely seasoned recipe...seemed to contain a little of the cook's soul." The recipes in question are predominantly Turkish in origin, made from ingredients such as char-grilled beef-and-lamb meatballs and plenty of imported Mediterranean whitefish. At lunch, guests can sample one of seven pides, Turkish-style pitas stuffed with grilled lamb or seasonal veggies. Like formal tractor pulls, the restaurant's dishes are a bit more sophisticated in the evening: meals might begin with yaprak sarma—hand-rolled grape leaves filled with rice and currant stuffing—before progressing to entrees of fresh tilapia wrapped in phyllo.
The pizza experts at Steve’s Wood Fired Pizza knead fresh dough into thin disks, slather them with house-made sauce, and toss them into an Italian-imported wood-fired oven, where they acquire a smoky aroma and crackling crust. The flame-licked pizzas have earned a slew of accolades, not only for their dark and well-done crusts, but for their more than 55 toppings such as applewood-smoked bacon, grilled vegetables, marinated shrimp, and caramelized onions. Rather than fold their menus into paper sailboats, guests can showcase their creativity by personalizing their own pizzas down to its cheeses and blend of herbs. Once crafted, pizzas find their proper place inside an intimate dining room, where 13 tables dot a welcoming, homey interior.
At the center of Playtown Cafe’s child-size indoor town, servers escort gourmet sandwiches, wraps, and flatbreads to parents and kids seated at café tables. As their parents continue to munch and mingle, children frolic in and out of small storefronts painted in bright colors, pretending to run a bakery, create masterpieces in an art gallery, and shoplift from La Boutique. Youngsters dress up as superheroes and princesses in the boutique; play air hockey, arcade games, and dual Nintendo Wiis inside the garage; and manipulate a train set in the building zone, which is designed to resemble an unfinished house.
To burn off boundless stores of energy, kids can cross the play-city’s traffic-free road to cavort in a turf-floored indoor park, where staffers monitor them as they scale climbing walls, cross blue climbing bars, and shoot down wavy orange slides. Playtown’s staffers show an additional commitment to safety as they oversee a separate play area and ball pit designed just for toddlers, which is free of boogie monsters.
Scattered pimento-like across the Boca Raton area, Mitch and Cory Shidlofsky's microcosmic Brooklyns serve teetering deli sandwiches and hearty breakfast fare. Every morning, diners tuck into 20 types of bagels, including egg, sunflower seed, pumpernickel, and marble, and slather them in cream-cheese flavors such as scallion, honey walnut, and strawberry. Sweeter options abound as well, including challah french toast, and Oreo pancakes that help children-at-heart relive their glory days when their heads were the size of cookies. Gloriously messy sandwiches star on the lunch menu—foremost among them the New Jersey sloppy joe, in which roast beef, corned beef, and turkey spill out from under russian dressing and coleslaw.