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Best Of :: People & Places

Best Hotel/Palm Beach County
The Breakers
Courtesy of the Breakers Palm Beach

Your first glimpse of the Breakers' history of indulgence comes as you approach the imposing Italian Renaissance structure from the driveway. Walk past the limos and into the lobby, where Venetian chandeliers and gold leaf ceilings accentuate the feeling of opulence. The tapestries and fresh flowers further confirm it. This is old money. The original hotel was built more than a century ago with some of the robber baron dollars Henry Flagler made with John D. Rockefeller. While the building has aged gracefully, it was recently revitalized by an expensive refurbishment that has continued to earn it a place among the best hotels in the world. It has all the stars and diamonds bestowed by travel guides, and 1500 employees, who speak 25 languages, make sure it stays world-class. The spa, the boutiques (you can get Steuben glass at one), and the golf course add to the upper-class experience that can be had on a weekend getaway. But for that real old-money feel, we like dining in the Florentine Room, with its Continental cuisine, impressive wine list, and older gentlemen who wear jackets to dinner simply because one must.

1 S. County Rd., Palm Beach, 33480
MAP
561-655-6611
Best Mafia Hangout

Owned by relatives of famed Philly mobster Raymond "Long John" Martorano, this pricey ristorante serves up some fine pasta. Just ask our finest suspected local mobsters. Wiseguys like "Sideburns" Cerrella, Vinnie "The Fish" Romano, and Jimmy Tortoriello have all frequented the place, according to intelligence reports from organized-crime detectives. We wondered why the Sinatra tunes were played at high volume; could it be to drown out the questionable conversations taking place among men wearing silk shirts? We might have chosen the Bobby Rubino's rib restaurants for this category, if only because they have a higher Mafia pedigree than Martorano's. Rubino's is owned by the progeny of former godfather Paul Castellano (who was whacked by Gotti) and Broward's most colorful capo, Ettore Zappi. But Martorano's has more class than Rubino's, and if you're lucky, you might catch some of the cast members of the HBO show The Sopranos while you're there. They popped in for a meal in February, proving once again that art does imitate life.

Best Mafia Hangout
Café Martorano
Cafe Martorano

Owned by relatives of famed Philly mobster Raymond "Long John" Martorano, this pricey ristorante serves up some fine pasta. Just ask our finest suspected local mobsters. Wiseguys like "Sideburns" Cerrella, Vinnie "The Fish" Romano, and Jimmy Tortoriello have all frequented the place, according to intelligence reports from organized-crime detectives. We wondered why the Sinatra tunes were played at high volume; could it be to drown out the questionable conversations taking place among men wearing silk shirts? We might have chosen the Bobby Rubino's rib restaurants for this category, if only because they have a higher Mafia pedigree than Martorano's. Rubino's is owned by the progeny of former godfather Paul Castellano (who was whacked by Gotti) and Broward's most colorful capo, Ettore Zappi. But Martorano's has more class than Rubino's, and if you're lucky, you might catch some of the cast members of the HBO show The Sopranos while you're there. They popped in for a meal in February, proving once again that art does imitate life.

3343 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 33308
MAP
954-561-2554
Best Place To See Someone Feed Alligators (Though it's not a good idea to feed alligators)

Buffalo Tiger's is a little shack by the side of the Tamiami Trail on the Miccosukee Indian Reservation. They give a fine airboat ride, complete with fancy maneuvering and a stop at an abandoned Miccosukee village on an island. The real thrill, however, comes when you're waiting for the ride. Stand by the dock, make some guttural grunting noises (or have someone more experienced make them for you), and it won't be long until "Tony" swims up to the dock and floats there, half submerged, waiting to be fed. He likes bread. Big chunks. We couldn't quite tell how big Tony is, though we'd say ten feet is a solid guess. If you kneel on the dock, you'll be only a foot above those jaws, probably the closest you can come to a feeding gator without losing a limb. Or an appendage, if you're a chief.

Best Place To See Someone Feed Alligators (Though it's not a good idea to feed alligators)

Buffalo Tiger's is a little shack by the side of the Tamiami Trail on the Miccosukee Indian Reservation. They give a fine airboat ride, complete with fancy maneuvering and a stop at an abandoned Miccosukee village on an island. The real thrill, however, comes when you're waiting for the ride. Stand by the dock, make some guttural grunting noises (or have someone more experienced make them for you), and it won't be long until "Tony" swims up to the dock and floats there, half submerged, waiting to be fed. He likes bread. Big chunks. We couldn't quite tell how big Tony is, though we'd say ten feet is a solid guess. If you kneel on the dock, you'll be only a foot above those jaws, probably the closest you can come to a feeding gator without losing a limb. Or an appendage, if you're a chief.

Best Venue for National Acts

Once we discovered this concert venue, we vowed never to go to one of those megastadiums where you need binoculars to see the act -- on the screen! With just 4000 seats, this theater provides an intimate setting in which all ticket holders can actually see the performer. We think there isn't a bad seat in the house. Why pay to see performers if you can't see them, we wonder? The place has history, too -- it's where Frank Sinatra made his first Broward appearance in 1977. True, you won't be able to see Elton John, Ricky Martin, or the Rolling Stones here, but you can catch a large selection of performers, including the Pretenders, Smashing Pumpkins, George Carlin, and Elvis Costello.

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Best Hotel/Palm Beach County: The Breakers

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