8188 W. Commercial Blvd., Lauderhill, 954-900-3271, SonicBeach.com
This South Florida spin-off of the national chain Sonic, American's Drive-In has opened its fourth old-fashioned, yet newfangled location.
The nostalgia of a drive-in with carhop service is accompanied by a sand beach with umbrellas, a patio and 10 TVs inside.
"Situated on West Commercial Boulevard, our new location is a perfect spot for daily commuters and families to take a break from their busy schedules to eat at our drive-in or in our dining room, which features a full-service wine and beer bar," says Eli Levy, partner of QueensFort Capital, which owns the franchisee rights in South Florida.
Highlights are cheeseburgers ($3.79-$5.49), foot-long quarter-pound Coney dog ($3.99), popcorn chicken ($4.99), Carolina pulled pork sandwiches ($4.79) and Frito chili cheese pie ($2.99).
This 2-year-old classy Euro-fusion gem has launched 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday brunch, supplemented by $10 lunch favorites, such as the new vegan Bolognese crafted from squash to resemble noodles.
"We tried to go straightforward and not too crazy, give people something they know," says chef de cuisine Anthony Rodriquez.
Best-sellers, complemented by a myriad of brunch cocktails ($8-$11), are berry-and-mascarpone stuffed French toast made from crème brulee batter ($14), Monte Cristo with house-made fig jam ($13), smoked salmon omelet ($14) and eggs Benedict ($12) with an option to add salmon ($17) or Wagyu steak ($19).
Wagyu steaks ($50 rib eye or New York strip, or $80 for three courses per couple) are also one of Rodriquez's dozen new dinner specialties as part of his first overhaul since Austrian chef Josef Schibanetz exited a year ago.
"I try to honor a lot of what Josef taught me," Rodriquez says, adding that the trademark wiener schnitzel ($28), roasted maple leaf duck ($28) and apfel strudel ($8) are here to stay.
Popular departures are butternut squash ravioli ($12), wild boar osso buco from Texas ($29) and sugar-free key lime tart ($8).
New York restaurateurs have brought a New England flair to the former Rotelli on this bustling street.
"Mussels are a great source of protein and low in calories," says Patricia Mezzancello, owner along with husband, Mark Mezzancello, and Joseph Bilotti, who was a partner in Rotelli. "We wanted our customers to have the options to choose healthier options in such a fast-paced town where people hardly slow down to think about what they are eating."
Signature mussel pots are offered in 14 styles, such as fra diavolo, south of the border or Thai ($18- $20), and shrimp, lobster, calamari or linguine can be added ($4.50-$6). Other hits are deconstructed tuna tacos ($14), Angry Lobster with spicy garlic linguine (market price), Hawaiian rib eye ($29.50) and oatmeal Crack Pie ($7).
"I recognize that in urban areas that there is an over influx of Italian and Chinese restaurants. I wanted to create something that was not saturated," Bilotti says.