Tucci's Fire N Coal Pizza

Naming a best pizza place is like kicking the hornet's nest. There's no faster way to stir shit up between two otherwise reasonable adults than by asking them to agree on the style, region, or topping selections that make for the perfect pie. It's a divisive issue, to say the least (particularly if one of the people involved hails from NYC). That said, there's little to argue about with Tucci's, unless it's whether to choose one of its signature coal-oven pies (we suggest the savory eggplant pizza or the simple Margherita) or to go rogue and build your own using piles of arugula, Kalamata olives, broccoli rabe, or prosciutto. Patience is required, as these puppies are made-to-order and won't be served until the crust has achieved just the right amount of char, the cheese has browned on the edges, and the sauce is blistering to the touch. Let others argue about the merits of thick versus thin; there are better ways to make use of your mouth in the presence of such flavor.

PL8

When pork belly and tasting menus have pummeled your diet, stop in at PL8 for a break in more ways than one. PL8 offers lovely salads with delicious accompaniments, such as this arugula favorite, lightly dressed in mustard vinaigrette, complemented with a cascade of wood-roasted corn. Toasted almond slivers add crunch, while strawberries punctuate with sweetness. The salad is the work of chef Joel Christy, who took the helm at PL8 in early January. The restaurant transformed from a neighborhood restaurant like Himmarshee Bar & Grille to a small-plates menu in September, to much fanfare, and this is another indication that it was a fine change indeed.

Sweeter Days Bake Shop
Tabatha Mudra

"We're all about flavors here," says proprietor Will Rubino. They're also about the cake décor. A tower of frosting and intricate toppings add extra flourish to cake that's spongy, moist, and fresh. Stop in the shop for a latte and watch bakers at work behind the glass divide. If you're lucky, you'll see them piping buttercream and adding the finishing touches to make these sweet treats even sweeter. Cupcake flavors include salty caramel, red velvet, Boston cream, lemon dream, Key lime, carrot cake, and a specialty creation called Seventh Heaven — a mix of dark-chocolate fudgy cake with chocolate chunks.

Saquella Cafe

Nine times out of ten, the breadbasket is junk property that does nothing but take up valuable stomach real estate. It's a restaurant throwaway — something to mindlessly gnaw on while awaiting an item of actual interest to appear at the table. But at Saquella, it's actually better to take it easy on the main course in order to reserve more space for the café's bread and croissant basket ($4.95). The basket comes with Dutch butter, but the melt-in-your-mouth croissant has no need for such assistance, nor do the various breads — cranberry, cheese, etc. — require the benefit of the homemade jams. This isn't a complimentary offering, but it certainly is a gift.

Way Beyond Bagels

This market, featuring all manner of Jewish delicacies, truly lives up to its name. In one deli case, a baker sets out rainbow marzipan bars and rugelach in apricot, berry, and chocolate. Nearby, an employee doles out servings of smoked fish. Bagels are still the hallmark, though — they're baked here hourly, so the smell of the vaguely sweet, aromatic rounds fills the space. Kettle-boiled, then baked, each bagel offers a crispy crust and a chewy interior: These are the New York-style bagels of legend. Nonstandard flavors include veggie, cinnamon crunch, sourdough pecan, and seven grain. Pick up a selection of cream cheeses to go with.

G&B Oyster Bar
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With whitewashed wood, metal chairs, and concrete floors, G&B is a stylish, open-air restaurant — a sibling to Coconuts, the dockside restaurant next door. No matter where you sit, you'll have a front-row seat to the shucking station, thanks to the giant mirror overhead. Upon round metal trays filled with shaved ice sit wheels of raw shellfish that smell clean and fresh. Lemons serve as garnish. Red-wine vinegars serve as dipping sauces. A shucker slides the knife into the hinge, angled down toward the oyster's cup. A flick of the wrist, a twist of the knife, and the oyster yields. To an oyster lover, this meat is more prized than a pearl. And the menu is a dining adventure: How many other local restaurants have sardines paired with citrus, boquerones, and Hawaiian poke? Conservative eaters may prefer a juicy burger or a fish fillet, but try to steer them at least toward the terrific muffuletta, served with an array of meats dolloped with olive relish on a crusty roll, just like in New Orleans.

Cafe Martorano
Cafe Martorano

Inside the hollowed-out crusty Italian roll are finely chopped rib-eye, gooey American cheese, a hint of garlic, sautéed peppers, and onions. This is no withering sandwich; it's a monster, football-sized and more expensive than the average Philly cheese steak: $18. But elevated ingredients ensure that this is likely the best rendition you've ever had, and the pricey Italian joint, run by Philadelphia native Steve Martorano, is worth the trip, regardless of the staff's bravado and Martorano's signature "Yo Cuz!" meathead routine. In addition to decadent plates, the place offers some of the most attentive service in town.

Hot Dog Heaven
Courtesy of Hot Dog Heaven

Say it with me now: Vienna beef hot dog on a bun, yellow mustard, onions, tomatoes, bright-green relish, pickle spear, sport peppers, and a dusting of celery salt. And absolutely no friggin' ketchup. This is a mantra known dearly to every Chicagoan, and it should be yours too: There's no better way to eat your tube meat than with this eclectic garden of condiments. Of course, if you're feeling heretical, get the truly fine folks in Heaven to slather your dog with chili and cheese or even cook up a hamburger patty. But you'll soon find that the real magic here is the French fries: There's almost always a small batch cooking up fresh in the deep fryer. Every fry is the simple epitome of what a fry should be: light and golden, just crispy and greasy enough, holding its shape, well-salted. Get the combo of a large dog, fries, and a Pepsi and appreciate the simple pleasures of American melting-pot innovation as you munch and stare across the street at a Honda dealership. The hot dog is a commodity food, and it's often overrated or eaten simply as a matter of convenience. But ritual and tradition — and, for Chicagoans, a little taste of home — really can make all the difference.

Georgia Pig
C. Stiles

This dingy but lovable hole in the wall is known for thick-cut bacon and mouthwatering barbecue. But once a week, around 11 a.m., construction workers, cops, students, and retirees line up outside the doors. Why? Fried chicken Fridays. Crisp, double-fried skin sheaths juicy chicken inside. Ask for a side of white vinegar to douse on the chicken and make a delicious bite transcendent. Eight bucks buys light and dark meat, rice, gravy, and black-eyed peas, which can be swapped for potato salad or slaw.

Old Fort Lauderdale Breakfast House

Let's get one thing straight: This isn't diner food. At this nook in the Himmarshee district, crisp home fries nestle beside deep-green, sautéed spinach, creating a bed for eggs so fresh that their yolks are orange. This Technicolor breakfast is made decadent by an oversized slice of bread from Gran Forno bakery, lovingly slathered with plenty of butter. OB-House offers exceptional ingredients, creative dishes, and a skillet pancake that will satiate even the biggest carb lover. The tone is set by clean and bright décor, fresh flowers on each table, and a soundtrack of Johnny Cash and Simon and Garfunkel. Attentive service is a bonus. What an indulgent way to start the day.

Best Of Broward-Palm Beach®

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