Restaurants

Costa brings bold, bold flavors to Palm Beach

David Valencia has been in restaurant kitchens for the past 14 years – a relatively short time by executive chef standards – but the 33-year native of Colombia has experience far beyond those years. Valencia, executive chef at Costa Palm Beach, has cut his teeth at such fabled restaurants as The Modern in New York City and trained under Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse.

He later joined renowned hospitality group EMM Group to open Catch with Top Chef Winner Hung Huynh in New York and Miami and was Chef de Cuisine at Meat Market Palm Beach before opening Costa (with owner and veteran Palm Beach restaurateur Sascha Bennemann) earlier this year.

All of Valencia’s high-powered training and learning is paying off at Costa, located on the second floor of The Esplanade on Palm Beach’s trendy Worth Avenue.

“Modern Mediterranean’’ is how Valencia describes Costa’s menus, which feature several of what might be considered Valencia’s “signature’’ dishes. Among them is the amazing Salt Baked Branzino, a three-pound Crispy Pork Shank (for two) and for lunch, an off-the-chain Lamb Burger.

“I wanted to bring something different with a lot of different flavor profiles – big bold flavors,’’ Valencia said.

Those bold flavors certainly come out in dishes such as the Salt Baked Branzino served with arugula emulsion, grilled lemon, olive caper tomato relish. It’s a terrific explosion of flavors that has many guests telling friends, “Get the Branzino,’’ when they go to Costa.

“I’ve been doing something similar (in terms of preparing the Branzino) for the past seven or eight years,’’ Valencia said. “For whatever reason, this is the dish people come back for. I didn’t expect it to be like that.’’

And don’t fret. The full fish is for presentation purposes only.

The Crispy […]

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    Dorrian’s Red Hand is filled with comfort food and good times

Dorrian’s Red Hand is filled with comfort food and good times

By Steve Pike

Every neighborhood should have its favorite bar. Preferably an Irish bar. On Clematis Street in West Palm Beach, I nominate Dorrian’s Red Hand. It filled with comfort food, comfort music (Pink Floyd, the Eagles, Creedence) and big screen TVs.

http://www.dorrians-wpb.com/

It’s also filled with locals who come to watch favorite teams, listen to live music and just chill with a brew and burger. It’s an Irish-American bar without the leprechauns and shamrocks. A place you’re likely to see in the Irish countryside, except that there is music at Dorrian’s. Most pubs in the Irish countryside chase musicians out the door. The story goes that even the Rolling Stones were once banned from playing in an Irish countryside bar.

That aside, “We started building up a nice, local clientele,’’ said co-owner Danny Dorrian, a veteran New York City restaurateur who opened the eatery and pub in April 2016. “Probably one of the more difficult places I’ve done business. People here are from all over the country. Everyone wants certain things.’’

Dorrian’s menu obliges. For example, the New York City House Burger features Bush Brothers beef and is served on an English muffin, so you’re getting more beef than bread.  It’s one of the better burgers in South Florida.

The thick Shepherd’s Pie is a “must have, and even if you don’t like calamari, the Amata Calamari (flash fried or sautéed) with spinach, cherry peppers and mushrooms is outstanding. If you just want to pig out, go for the loaded nachos with turkey chili.

Dorrian’s menu also has some steak and seafood items, perhaps the best French fries in South Florida, as well as year-round Thanksgiving dinner complete with slow roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, sausage stuffing, cranberry and gravy.

“Good food […]

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    Mojito Bar combines classic Cuban cocktails with Nuevo Latin Cuisine

Mojito Bar combines classic Cuban cocktails with Nuevo Latin Cuisine

By Steve Pike

Come for the mojitos, stay for the food. That’s my advice for guests at the new Mojito Bar restaurant at Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise, Fla. Renowned Chef Douglas Rodriguez has fused his signature Nuevo Latin Cuisine with the classic Cuban cocktail for a terrific indoor and outdoor dining experience.

http://themojitobar.com

Located on the edge of some of Sawgrass Mills’ more popular store, the vibrant and colorful Mojito Bar is an ideal spot for people watching, as well as lunch and dinner.

The experience begins, of course, with the mojitos. Mojito Bar has a deep selection of mojitos, led by the Classic served with DonQ Cristal rum; the robust Coconut mojito features DonQ. Try them each in Mojito Bar’s 24-ounce glass and you might never want to leave. If you’re looking to take the experience up another notch, Mojito Bar serves its namesake cocktails in a souvenir 32-ounce light-up tower glass.

Now on to the food. Start with the Smoked Pineapple Guacamole that has unbelievable flavor thanks mostly to the pineapple that’s smoked for up to eight hours before being served.

“Not your typical guacamole,’’ said Mojito Bar Manager Bar Jose Reigosa.

The Smoked Pineapple Guacamole is just one example of Rodriguez’s menu that also features dishes such as Cuban Sandwich on a Stick, Short Rib Soft Tacos (my favorite), Mojito Shrimp Ceviche and Brazilian Coconut Seafood Casserole.

“Douglas brought us a menu to match who we are,’’ Reigosa said.

It’s a perfect match.

Steve Pike is an award-winning food and travel writer at Spike’s Peek’s: The Art of Travel (www.myspiketravel.com). He lives in Delray Beach, Fla.

 

 

O is for Outstanding and it also stands for Ouzo Bay

Hello Foodie Friends,
I was recently invited to dine at the new Ouzo Bay, which opened up their second location just under four months ago in Mizner Park (Downtown Boca) in the former Jazziz spot.  The 325-seat restaurant reflects the core concept of Ouzo Bay’s flagship location in Baltimore, Maryland, which opened in 2013 to rave reviews, and has been named the #1 restaurant in the city by Baltimore Magazine, which offers contemporary Mediterranean cuisine with a strong Greek influence.

 

Ouzo Bay’s interior was designed to reflect the Greek influences in a modern way. The signature blue accent lighting throughout the restaurant helps to create an upscale, yet relaxed atmosphere. Comfortably seating roughly 225 inside and 100 on the outside patio, there are also separate lounge sections inside and outside, as well as a 30-seat private cigar lounge attached to the restaurant. “With Ouzo Bay Boca Raton, we will continue to bring our customers the finest quality ingredients from the Mediterranean, matched by our chic bar atmosphere,” says Alexander Smith of the Atlas Group Restaurant, owners of Ouzo Bay. “We feel that Mizner Park and Boca Raton will be a perfect fit for our fish flown in fresh daily from around the world complemented with handmade cocktails and an enormous wine and spirits list.”

Highlighted by a variety of Whole Fish flown in daily from around the world, the menu includes only the freshest and finest-quality ingredients.  Complimenting the seafood menu, Ouzo Bay also has an extensive selection of fine-quality cuts of grass fed lamb, prime beef and organic chicken.  In addition to the impressive culinary lineup, Ouzo Bay’s posh full-service bar is overseen by Bradford White, the restaurant’s resident Sommelier/Beverage Manager and features handcrafted cocktails, small-batch whiskeys and a […]

Baciami Italiano (‘Kiss Me’ in Italian)

Hello Foodie Friends,

Today I share with you a new restaurant opening in the heart of Boynton Beach… Baciami Italiano, (Italian for ‘kiss me’) is an authentic Italian dining destination owned by father and son restaurateur duo Steven Pellegrino, Sr., and Steven Pellegrino, Jr., of Delray Beach’s famed Prime Steak & Seafood and Il Bacio Restaurant & Night Club. Introducing a revolving menu of weekly specials, including daily happy hour (Offering an expansive selection of wines, beers and cocktails), Ladies’ Pie & Wine Night, Family Dinner and Maine Lobster specials. Baciami Italiano is the “new place to be” in Boynton Beach!

 

In addition to these offerings, Baciami features an imported authentic Neapolitan pizza oven to cook pizza in under 3 minutes and a diverse Italian menu orchestrated by classically-trained Chef, Anthony Ianniello – all served up with unparalleled hospitality.

There are many ways in which you can enjoy your experience at Baciami Italiano; dine al fresco on their patio or take a seat at their cozy bar or choose to sit in the main dining area which can accommodate party sizes ranging from couples to large family gatherings. The restaurant also offers additional private dining space for groups of 25 – 60 people, including a private dining room with built in audio visual capabilities and a private lounge area for social dining experiences.

I recently attended a media dinner to check this new dining destination out. Here’s what we had:

Other menu highlights include Grilled Octopus with baby arugula, white beans, potato, Anthony’s Sunday Gravy with meatballs, sausage, braciole, Guiseppe Coco jumbo rigatoni, Chicken Milanese with arugula, baby tomatoes, truffle oil. Guests of Baciami will find a diverse list of imported and domestic wines by the glass and by the bottle to […]

Boon’s Asian Bistro

Hello Foodie Friends,

Today’s feature is on Boon’s Asian Bistro in West Delray Beach, FL.  (W. Atlantic Avenue and just east of the Turnpike) There is another Boon’s (related) in West Boca on 441, however, this one has a completely different menu. Boon’s Asian Bistro features cuisines from all over Asia, including Japan, China, Thailand and the Philippines.

Boon’s embodies Buddha’s philosophy to seek happiness through peaceful harmony with themselves and the environment. In this respect, they strive to provide sustainable, antibiotic & hormone-free food where guests’ complete satisfaction is their mission. They strive to be a place where even the unexpressed wishes or needs of their guests are fulfilled. Their pledge is to provide a dining atmosphere where guests will not only enjoy the highest quality of fresh, locally sourced foods from farms and artisans from around the world but provide a fun, relaxed environment where traditional dining norms are ignored and/or broken.

I was recently invited to dine as a guest of the restaurant during their soft opening. My companion and I had the opportunity to sample a nice cross section of the menu.

Tuna tartare with Casava Chips. This appetizer was very light and fresh and each component of the dish complemented each other. I especially loved using the Casava chips to scoop up each bite.

The Tom Kha Gai soup was outstanding. Full of flavor and mushrooms that have been cooked, as compared to most places that serve this dish with uncooked mushrooms. I believe the cooked mushrooms added another layer of depth and flavor.

Lobster roll. Most lobster rolls I have had contain battered & fried lobster inside the roll; this one utilized Maine lobster that had been poached in its shell and was very light. It was […]

Tommy Bahama is Serving Up The Aloha Spirit

Hello Foodie Friends,

While on my trip to Orlando last week, I got invited to participate in an impromptu tasting by my Instagram friend Chef Matt Oakley from Tommy Bahama. It was an honor and I was so excited to meet Chef Matt and taste his food since I began following him on Instagram.

I was immediately shown the “Aloha” spirit when I walked through the doors and was greeted warmly by the hostess who proceeded to ask if I was Denise.  With a big smile, I answered yes and then was asked to follow her to a table that had been set up for me.

The Pineapple Paradisio, made with Bacardi Pineapple and St. Germain Elderflower was waiting for me on my table when I arrived. As I progressed through the tasting, two other cocktails were presented. The Coconut Cloud, made with Ron Matusalem Platino, Stoli Vanil, Cruzan Coconut and Cream of Coconut and the Mai Tai, made with Flor de Caña 4 Year, Orgeat, Orange Curaçao, Lemon, Lime, Pineapple and a Dark Rum Float. Although I am not familiar with several of the above mentioned ingredients, that didn’t stop me one bit from enjoying them immensely! (Don’t worry, not all three cocktails were consumed to their entirety during my tasting)

After meeting Chef Matt and chatting with him for a bit, he told me that Tommy Bahama and their restaurants serving Island fare have been around since 1993; the first one opened in Naples, FL. Today they can be found spreading the Island cheer all around the globe. This Tommy Bahama happened to be the company’s Research & Development for their restaurants and Chef Matt works closely with their corporate chef to create some of the menu items. (The […]

Cuba Libre, Pointe Orlando

Dear Foodie Friends,

On a recent trip to Orlando to further my education in my Wines for Humanity business and to scout out restaurants for our new culinary tours soon to be offered up there, I was invited as a member of the press to dine at Cuba Libre who just so happened to be launching a new menu the night of my arrival into town.

Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, located in Pointe Orlando on International Drive, announces its new menu, which debuted yesterday May 3rd, featuring 12 brand new classic and contemporary Cuban dinner items by Chef-Partner Guillermo Pernot, inspired by his bi-annual culinary travels to Cuba. The menu overhaul includes creative appetizers, entrees, and hand-crafted cocktails. In celebration of the popular restaurant’s extensive menu release, Cuba Libre is offering a complimentary glass of its signature red or white sangria to any guest dining at the restaurant for dinner between May 3rd and May 10th, with the purchase of an entrée. Guests must mention the free sangria promotion to their server in order to receive the complimentary item.

“I’m thrilled to introduce so many new flavorful, unique, and authentically Cuban items to Cuba Libre’s menus,” said Chef Pernot. “While many menu favorites remain, our 12 new dishes range from impressive platters for two, to trendy items with a Cuban twist, and tapas recipes passed down for generations, and I believe that our guests, both new and recurring, will absolutely love the new additions.”

The Cuban restaurant’s new menu features 50-60% new items including several massive meat entrees for two, such as the Crispy Pork Pata, a 48-hour slow-cooked Berkshire pork shank, served with grilled seasonal vegetables and Moros y Cristianos, in a citrus pan reduction; and […]

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    Saquella Cafe…more than just great coffee, breakfast & lunch!

Saquella Cafe…more than just great coffee, breakfast & lunch!

Hello Foodie Friends,

I had the opportunity to attend a blogger event at Saquella recently to be introduced to some new items that are being added to their menu so I can share them with you.

As many of you know, I spend a lot of time in the Downtown Boca area, particularly in Royal Palm Place and Mizner Park where I conduct my culinary tours. Saquella, located in Royal Palm Place, is the go-to-place for friends to gather for coffee and breakfast and a leader in the culinary scene here in Boca since they opened their doors back in 2005.  They are recognized as a leader because of their philosophy which has been from the start and continues to be that they are always looking for new ways to innovate and evolve.

When Saquella first opened, the concentration was on their superior blends of coffee, innovative drinks and highly skilled baristas. They prided themselves on this and created the tagline, “Your First Cup of Coffee & Much More…” 12 years later, they have evolved into a full service breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner restaurant. While still providing the same quality drinks that they became known for, they are getting the word out that they are so much more. While Saquella has always been farm to table long before that name became in vogue, they developed a new tagline to better reflect the Cafe’s evolution and current offerings, “Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop…”

Saquella has always drawn an International clientele and has become a landmark at the plaza, along with its neighbor across from them, Biergarten Boca.  There’s a good chance if you live in Boca or travel to this area that you’ve been to Saquella, but what […]

Via Emilia 9, South Beach’s Hidden Gem

Hello Foodie Friends,

I recently was invited to check out Via Emilia 9 in South Beach. I had not heard of it before and was super excited to go after taking a peek at their website.

Named after the merchant road in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna (Italy’s greatest gastronomic treasure), ViaEmilia 9 is Miami Beach’s first authentic regional Italian restaurant and market. Emilia Romagna sits on the border with the third-smallest country in Europe, the Republic of San Marino, which happens to be the birth place of my mother-in-law, and a place I had the good fortune of visiting several years ago.

Perfect for lunch or dinner, Via Emilia 9 has something for all palettes and represents the Italian regions of both Bologna and Modena. Never compromising authenticity, Chef Giancarlo “Wendy” Cacciatori imports everything served at Via Emilia 9 from Italy (with the exception of fresh fruits, vegetables and eggs), including bread, which is brought in from the Vasalli Bakery in Ferrara, Italy. Via Emilia 9 has an expert “Sfoglina” or pasta maker on site hand rolling a variety of pastas and raviolis daily and upon request, she can personalize the stuffing of your ravioli or any pasta you’d like to try.

To get us started on our culinary journey through the Emilia region, Chef Wendy prepared for us a perfect antipasti plate that included 24 mo aged Parmigiano, 18 mo aged proscuitto di Parma, balsamic pearls (Chef Wendy & Tina import the balsamic from their own barrels in Emilia, where the balsamic sits and ages), fresh figs, artichoke, lemon jam & arugula with a side of gnocco frito (fried dough). Let me just say O – M – G!!!! This platter is one of the best I have ever had […]

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