Paciugo

True Italian gelato is not ice cream; it is richer and creamier and has a velvety texture that melts in your mouth. Paciugo knows this, and it shows. The amaretto chocolate chip, for instance, has a rich almond-cookie flavor that washes over the tongue and lingers for a couple of seconds before it's augmented with a hint of dark chocolate. The chocolate/black-cherry swirl has a similarly complex taste, alternating between milk and dark chocolates with cherry overtones. It's more like drinking wine than eating ice cream. Cristina and Ugo Ginatta and their son, Vincenzo, brought their gelato-making method straight from their hometown of Turin, Italy, and spent the past decade perfecting it, starting with a store in Dallas. The family business has grown to include nearly 50 gelaterias nationwide and a repertoire of 200 recipes. With hundreds of rotating flavors, Paciugo will keep your taste buds entertained year-round.

The dance of the seven veils makes a fine diversion, but no belly-wobbling, sphinx-eyed siren can stop a hungry stomach from staging its own entertainment: Sometimes you really want spectacular spanikopita rather than smashed crockery and drop-dead dolmades instead of dancing dames. Ouzo Blue provides the sustenance to maintain your mood with classic Greek dishes straight out of Chef Otis Giakis' mama's recipe files. Smoky spit-roasted lamb is stuffed into an insanely soft pita with yogurt as thick as cheese for a fabulous gyro; oversized dolmades dress a super-rich filling of minced lamb and spiced rice in a swaddling of sour grape leaves; a secret recipe of jumbo shrimp with warm spices arrives, like all Ouzo's entrées, with a side of addictive green beans stewed with tomatoes — just the kind of fuel you need to carry you through the rest of the evening, because you won't be going anywhere. By 10 p.m., the party crowd has drifted in to quaff Ouzo's Greek-themed cocktails, flirt, toss napkins in the air, and shake booty with the belly dancers — order the pistachio-studded baklava for a late-night energy boost and you'll be hoofing it on a table by midnight.

Palm Beach Grill

In 1939, Eleanor Roosevelt took a lot of flak for her plan to entertain the visiting king and queen of England with a picnic of hot dogs. The king, it turned out, was so smitten with the "delightful hot dog sandwich" that he begged for another one. Lately, the dog is having its day again — the American frankfurter has become so exquisite that it's hardly recognizable as junk food anymore. The 100 percent kosher beef frank served at Palm Beach Grill is of this refined, purebred species: It comes cradled in the downy folds of an artisinal roll, oozing char-flavored juices beneath blankets of sautéed vegetables and imported cheese. Modern-day kings and queens arrive straight from society balls to scarf down these bejeweled ballpark snacks, and PB Grill has even upped the ante by pairing its "silver service hot dog" ($12) with a side of creamy, mustard-infused, herb-flecked deviled eggs. Word is, local royalty is asking for seconds.

Vinny's All Day Cafe
Liz Dzuro

Look, this place has incredible chopped salads, chock-full of meats, cheeses, fresh romaine lettuce, peppers, colorful veggies, and tangy original sauces. You can even get your "salad" in a huge, tightly rolled wrap too big to finish in one sitting. The prices are reasonable, and the service is great. But there's a problem: The fun stops and the doors close at 6 p.m. Even earlier on the weekends. Now, it's no secret that a large percentage of the Boca population is, shall we say, mature. And sometimes, with such maturity, the daily schedule skews forward a bit. Mornings move up, evenings get earlier, and the air conditioning gets warmer. But if you happen to stop by Vinny's All Day Café for dinner (at a normal dinner time, not Boca time), you'll find the place closed. And it's frustrating to stand outside a restaurant with "all day" in the name when it's closed. The food is fantastic, but even in Boca, that isn't all day.

Carolina's Coal Fired Pizza & Pasta

The Roman gods smiled on Delray Beach and dished us up one of their famous mythological hybrids: not a centaur or a satyr but an Italian restaurant set in an old Florida Key West cottage, complete with tin roof and breeze-ruffled, wraparound porch. Let's call this amazing chimera a trattorishack. The scent of night-blooming jasmine through open windows mingles with smoke wafting from Carolina's chimneys, a vapor redolent not of pit barbecue but of coal oven pizza. Genial, bespectacled owner Enrico Esposito brought the recipe for his pie crusts from his mother and grandmother's Neapolitan restaurants, along with their versions of meatballs in fresh marinara sauce ($9.95) and baked clams oreganata ($10.25). Pair Esposito's vinegar-tart chopped salad ($8.50) with a two-glass quartino of Italian Sangiovese or baby Amarone ($11), delicious with oven-baked bread sticks dipped in the EVOO and fine balsamic set out on every table. Pizza Carolina ($16.50) requires nothing more blissful than fresh mozzarella and handfuls of torn herbs; handmade cheese ravioli ($14.95) begs only for a dusting of fresh Parmesan. Like so much soft applause, the rustle of palms outside seals the bargain.

Marumi Sushi
Chelsea Scholler

Marumi Sushi doesn't look like much from the outside — just your generic strip-mall eatery with a few Asian-looking frills. But the nondescript décor is no sign of mediocrity. Here, it's an indicator of a single-minded devotion to food. Owner/chefs Tetsu-San and Teru-San serve a nightly menu of Japanese (and some Korean) food unlike any in Broward County. At Marumi, the traditional — natto beans! — blends with the wildly inventive — sea urchin pasta! — and the incomparably fresh — whole fish, caught that morning, served four or five or six or seven ways. The service is friendly — if you go two Fridays in a row, the staff will likely remember your name and drink order on the second. They'll be happy to guide you through the five-page menu, editorializing freely on the merits of various exotica, and they're thrilled to help you decipher the huge specials board that gets plunked in front of every diner's table.

Blue Boar Tavern

A scrawled sign outside the Blue Boar advises that bare feet and tank tops are forbidden after 8 p.m. ("Dress Code Enforced 7 Days!"). But once you've got your sandals and T-shirt on, this high hog is serious about late-night hunger management. Blue Boar purveys homemade chicken noodle soup, beef quesadillas, char-grilled cheeseburgers, garbage fries, and a full lineup of classic greasy bar bites until 4:30 every morning. From all over the county, waitresses and line cooks point their sore feet and foul moods straight for the Boar; they keep showing up in shifts — midnight, 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m. — to shoot pool and throw darts or fuss over the pinball machines, to slump at the bar and watch ancient Mike Tyson fights on the dozen TV screens — until brain, belly, and aching hooves have at last fully recovered. Even the bleariest dishwasher wouldn't call these onion rings or hot roast beef sandwiches gourmet fare, but in the deepest hours before dawn, there's a whole lot of comfort to be had from a gooey grilled cheese and a shot of Jack.

Morton's, the Steakhouse

Five dollars. When was the last time you saw that price on a menu for anything other than a Happy Meal? Just please, wash your face and put on a clean pair of trousers before you head over to Morton's bar for their "power hour" — we don't want them catching on that the hoi polloi is actually showing up to eat. Every plate on the bar menu is five bucks from 4:30 or 5 (depending on the location) to 6:30 p.m. and then again from 9 p.m. until Morton's locks up its gleaming mahogany doors for the night. The bargains are doozies: saucers piled with beef sliders glistening with juice, mini-steak sandwiches to dunk in pots of horseradish cream, warm crab dip with buttered rounds of toast, pan-fried crab cakes. They'll give you oysters for a buck each or giant prawns for $2.50. Drinks to wash down this movable feast are half price. And the weird thing is, the servers treat you like you're, you know, a real Morton's customer, with all the deference due to the fat cats who are paying six times as much to sit in the restaurant 20 feet away. Nothing warms the heart of a cheapskate like the idea that he may be getting away with something. You are.

Zona Fresca

Over the years, Zona Fresca has won a plethora of New Times Best Of awards, from Best Fish Sandwich (in that case, a fish taco) to Best Place to Eat Everyday. Yet, we've not once given it the Best Mexican Restaurant accolades it deserves. Seriously... for a quick-service joint where you eat off styrofoam plates with plastic utensils, Zona literally owns any local sitdown, goopy-bean-and-cheese-style Mex joint. Everything served is imminently fresh — including daily-made salsas, grilled chicken and steaks, and made-to-order humongous salads. The ingredients are all top-notch. The prices are ridiculously low as well, especially considering that the portions are big enough to make two meals out of almost any item, be it the infant-sized burritos or the sizable taco platters. And since Zona's second location in Plantation opened last year, your Baja-style Mex fix is never far away.

Tryst

Ben Franklin said: "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." If so, God's love foams eternal from the brimming imaginations of longtime South Florida restaurateurs Rodney Mayo and Scott Frielich. At their new Tryst, they've teamed up with next-door neighbors from 32 East and Delux to debut a beer-centric bistro, adding hops to their trademark hip. Brick walls, wide-plank wood floors, and a patio built around an ancient tree make a cozy backdrop for a gargantuan list of drafts and crafts from little American entrepreneurs and European breweries. Chef Butch Johnson posts chalkboard specials perfect for pairing with strange brews like Delirium Tremens or Hobgoblin: simple fresh fish dishes beautifully cooked, salt- and fat-laden morsels of deep-fried rock shrimp, refreshing fruit and vegetable slaws made of Asian pear or daikon radish and flecked with fresh cilantro, boards of cheese and charcuterie, and super-moist pork tenderloin. And you can put away your beer goggles: The notion of an upscale kegger has made a big splash with the college crowd. A convocation of cuties spills out the door on weekends.

Best Of Broward-Palm Beach®

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