Restaurants are in Chef Victor Wang's blood—he comes from a family with multiple generations in the industry. Rather than rest on that heritage, he toured Asia and the Americas for more than 20 years, seeking recipes and lessons from numerous chefs specializing in a variety of cuisines.
These days, the critically acclaimed chef injects American flavors into classic Asian cuisine from countries such as China, Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia. His menu may include Prince Edward Island mussels doused with holly, basil, and ginger; lemongrass-infused chicken soaked in a coconut curry cooked for hours; and seared sirloin marinated in sesame, soy, and garlic. Chef Victor can often be found in the dining room, explaining the complexity of his dishes and why it's too hard to teach broccoli to roll over.
Lonzalos Pizzeria & Ristorante borrowed the name of the one-time foreman of the Starkey Ranch, Lonzalo “Lonnie” Cannon, whose work ethic and Italian origins inspired the eatery’s culture. The man himself still resides in north Florida at the ripe old age of 95, not too far away to visit owner Scott Cochrane’s homage to his life.
The pizzeria serves regular, deep-dish, and stuffed pies, but also delves extensively into traditional Italian cookery, combining choice pieces of meat and seafood with rich sauces and pasta. The rich scent of cheese and wine wafts through the dining room, though visitors can opt instead to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and potential UFO sightings of alfresco dining on the outdoor patio. The indoor space transforms into a late-night comedy venue on the second Saturday of each month at 10 p.m., hosting a rotating cast of funny-bone ticklers.
For more than two decades, Pit Boss Bar-B-Q has been quelling ravenous appetites with sweet barbecue bites and taste bud-tickling barbecue sauce in a casual dining atmosphere. Treat noses to the sweet aroma of oak-wood seared meats, which swirl around feasters as they enjoy meals from the poker themed menu. Please palates with comforting dishes such as the platter of pork or beef topped with Pit Boss Bar-B-Q sauce and served amongst grilled texas toast and a choice of two side dishes such as fried okra and collard greens ($9.99). Knock out unruly stomach grumbles with the black jack, a spicy sausage blanketed by red onions and green peppers and delicately balanced within a house of hot-wing-shaped cards ($6.49). Raise the stakes of any grub time game by adding a side bet of the baked beans, creamy coleslaw, or red-skin potatoes ($1.49).
During World War I, Greek immigrant Louis Pappas served in the Army as a personal chef to General John Pershing. To give the hungry general some extra nutrition, Louis began adding scoops of potato salad to his traditional greek salads. When Louis returned to the United States, he opened up his own restaurant, Louis Pappas Riverside Café, where he would re-create this signature dish using fresh produce from his own ranch in Tarpon Springs.
Today, Louis Pappas's grandson continues his grandfather's old Florida family tradition at Pappas Ranch. There, he and his kitchen serve up a new menu of fresh seafood, poultry, sandwiches, street tacos, hand-cut steaks, and barbecue dishes whose "family flair" has been lauded by Metromix Tampa Bay. They continue to scoop savory housemade potato salad into their internationally renowned Louis Pappas Famous greek salad, tossing it in massive bowls that serve as many as four diners. Bartenders dole out glasses of locally brewed craft beers and wine or mix cocktails and martinis at the full center bar with flat-screen TVs.
The restaurant's decor channels that of the original Pappas family ranch. In the dining room, spacious booths are surrounded by rustic wooden walls, and outside is a covered outdoor patio.
Belwood’s Irish Pub has a way of making guests feel lucky. Lucky enough, in some cases, to attempt the pub’s notorious Atomic Wing Challenge, which requires one to polish off a plate of blazingly hot Atomic wings in 10 minutes or less. Such a feat earns its conqueror a $25 paid tab and a photo on the Atomic wall of fame. If the wings prove too daunting, there’s always a menu of burgers, sandwiches, fried appetizers, and salads to appease all types of cravings.
If you’re hunting for gold at Belwood’s, it’s best not to look for the familiar shapes of coins. Check the bar, however, and you’ll find 16 draft beers pouring into frosty pint glasses. These glasses clink together in celebration of a well-thrown dart, a pocketed eight ball, or a touchdown displayed on one of the pub’s television.