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Best Of :: People & Places

Best Miami Dolphin

Imagine you're the personnel director of an NFL expansion team and you have the opportunity to pick any player from the Dolphins roster for your new squad. Cornerback Sam Madison is one of the best in the league at his position, and wide receiver O.J. McDuffie led the league in receptions a year ago; either would be a good choice. But when it comes to being the best Dolphins player, middle linebacker Zach Thomas is the meanest fish in the tank. The defensive spark plug many NFL insiders considered too small at five feet, eleven inches and 235 pounds has led the team in tackles every season since being drafted in the fifth round in 1996. What Thomas lacks in size, he makes up for in intensity and versatility. How many players have the power to go head-up on Steelers running back Jerome Bettis -- a guy nicknamed "the Bus" for his bruising running style -- flatten him like a pancake, and still possess the speed to cover Raiders wideout Tim Brown on a deep crossing pattern? Thomas' teammates and coaches consistently recognize him as one of the hardest workers on the team. His character, fire, and athletic ability make him the heart and soul of a nasty defense that has come to be known as one of the stingiest in the NFL. While other players may be involved in one or two plays per drive, the Dolphins' middle man usually contributes on every down, thus continuing Miami's tradition of gritty defensive field generals.

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 Miami Dolphin: Zach Thomas

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