Though he spent years in directorial positions at New York City's American Museum of Natural History, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Metropolitan Opera, Peter Pergola always felt that his passion truly lay in the creation of food. In 2003, Peter harnessed that epicurean love with his 10 years of Tampa food-service experience. And, since East Lake Cafe's inception, he and his family have worked to introduce a range of clientele to his eatery and its welcoming outdoor patio, where clay-top tables sit surrounded by tropical plants and umbrellas that keep food safe from any ravenous paratroopers. Inside the patio's island-like atmosphere, the Pergola family maintains an open invitation to pets, adding to the emphasis on maintaining familiarity with regulars and with those who soon may be.
Peter's menu blends casual American-style recipes with Mediterranean flavors, which influence everything from his gourmet burgers to his seafood dishes and all-day breakfast offerings. When it comes time for dessert, exquisitely presented baked goods from affiliate Cakes by Nomeda make the plates they're served on feel underdressed. The Lithuanian-born dessertier fashions each of her aesthetically pleasing edibles using ideas from her European bakery training, decorating each using her experience doing makeup for cake impersonators. Each dish tops off meals with a sweet element that combines thoughtful flavor with art, making them pair particularly well with Peter's savory creations.
The distinctive harmonies of karaoke choirs pour out of Rum Runners until 3 a.m. every night, drowning out the din of a digital jukebox and the clinks of the bar's bowling pins and pool balls. Rum Runners lures in patrons with its devotion to late-night revelry: an elevated, tinsel-fringed karaoke stage houses a live DJ and flat-screen prompter with cues for air-guitar solos, and patrons weave past arcade games and poker tables on their way to the stocked bar. There, mixologists concoct the namesake rumrunner and dole out a dozen domestic and imported draft beers.
San’s delectable menu bursts with a medley of homemade thin crust pizzas, piping pastas, and hearty sandwiches crafted with fresh ingredients. Dinner DJs hand-hurl each pie sky-high upon your order, slathering it in scratch-made sauce, a rich blend of cheeses, and tantalizing toppings including house-made meatballs, artichokes, eggplant, and feta ($1.95+ / slice, $7.50+ / pie). Silence trilling tummies with specialty pizzas, such as the rail-thin Cara’s Crispino sprinkled with tomato, basil, garlic, and balsamic ($2.50 / slice, $18.95 / 16’’x16’’), or the Balls of Fire pizza, a pizza topped with cheese and pizza sauce combined with a special hot sauce, meatballs, jalapeno and crushed red peppers ($18.95 / 18" large). Homemade manicotti ($10.95) and lasagna ($10.75 for cheese, $11.75 for beef) soak in flavorsome lochs of house marinara, and a bevy of hot and cold sandwiches ably sate bun enthusiasts ($5–$8.75).
Papa John's has carefully crafted a menu of specialty pizzas to satisfy any taste or mouth shape. Order a Hawaiian BBQ Chicken, or go all-out and get The Works, a top-heavy combination of pepperoni, ham, spicy Italian sausage, fresh-sliced onions, green peppers, gourmet baby portabella mushrooms, and ripe black olives. Satisfy herbivores and herbivoyeurs with a Tuscan Six-Cheese or Garden Fresh pie. The full list of specialty pizzas includes several more; take the hassle out of haggling over individual ingredients and boldly cast your straight-ticket ballot for the pizza party that your conscious dictates.
Celebrate the color of pumpkins, tigers, and odd-colored bruises with today’s Groupon: $10 gets you $20 worth of fresh-squeezed fare at Orange Street Cafe, a downtown café that serves mostly organic food for breakfast and lunch. Follow @Groupon_Says on Twitter.