340 Clematis St., West Palm Beach, 561-820-9206, PalmSugarWpb.com
This 2-year-old eatery is fine-tuning its fit on downtown's good-time street by responding to the demand for sushi on its pan-Asian menu.
"We're packed at lunch, but at dinner, people want to sit back and relax a little more, so that's why we're adding sushi that takes a little longer," says co-owner and general manager Sang Chirdchid, a Thai native. "So now we have everything, and word of mouth is increasing."
Popular rolls have been the spicy tuna-and-shrimp tempura Rain Drop ($15) and spicy tuna Ai Maguro ($16) — both in soy paper with kimchi and spicy mayo. The Rain Drop's tear drop-shaped pieces arranged in an exquisite flower pattern tastes as good as they look. Appetizer highlights are the spicy tuna tower with nori chips ($12) and salmon rolled in enoki mushrooms ($8). Select sushi is half off during happy hour 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday.
Chirdchid plans to revamp the cocktail list in the fall to pair with the sushi, which also will be tweaked based on this summer's feedback. Request the Jersey Shore with citrus vodka, raspberries and passion-fruit juice ($10) as a sneak peek.
A party in November will promote these changes, as well as new desserts with Asian flavors, building from their latest indulgence, Thai tea cheesecake with chocolate crust accompanied by hot tea ($7).
After 9 p.m., Chirdchid has started dimming the lights in industrial-style restaurant and ramping up the music to draw in the younger set.
This 5-year-old gastropub with red cowhide chairs and lively indoor/outdoor bar is running seasonal specialties and promotions through October with new executive chef Kelley Randall at the helm,.
"This place has been straying from its roots, so I'm working with the owner to bring back some original items and create some new things to bring it back into the realm of an American gastropub," Randall says.
Sunday brunch, which launched in the spring from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., has been expanded from only a couple items to about 10 rotating dishes, such as cinnamon Belgian waffle ($13) and pork belly Benedict ($17).
Summer cocktails ($10) include red or white sangria and Watermelon Gin Fizz.
The is the first summer of the following theme nights, which also feature different items each week paired with drink specials.
BBQ Mondays features such items as Korean short rib sliders and short rib flatbread, along with half-off house drinks and craft beers. Paella ($26) and atypical fish such as cobia, wahoo and kingfish are on the menu on Seafood Fiesta Tuesdays. An entrée purchase knocks half off wine bottles higher than $48. On Burger Wednesdays, draft beer is half prices and burger choices include crab ($22) and Carolina pork belly ($19). Surf 'n Turf Thursdays features shrimp-and-pork po'boy ($26) and crab-stuffed rib eye ($39), along with a $5 dessert and half off wine bottles less than $50.
John The Baker
2116 N. Flamingo Road, Pembroke Pines, 954-252-0091, JohnTheBaker.net
John Scincariello and his wife, Patty Scincariello, have returned to Pembroke Pines in a bigger space in the former American Pie Pizzeria in the Flamingo Falls plaza after an eight-year stint in Cooper City.
"We have moved to a very popular shopping center that is conveniently located with plenty of free parking," says John Scincariello, who works alongside his 20-year-old son, Johnny, and has been crafting pizza since 1960. "The location is a dream come true, and I know my customers and staff are going to love it here."
Highlights of the traditional Italian fare are pizza ($6.95-$19.50), garlic rolls ($2.50 for half dozen), chicken parmigiana sub ($8.50), chicken parmigiana dinner ($13.50), veal cacciatore ($14.50) and salads ($2.95-$9.50) — all complemented by Italian wines. House-made sausage enhances several dishes.
Lunch and dinner are served daily along with free WiFi amid a homey, modern ambiance with light walls and dark-wood floors. Orange, yellow and red Italian glass tiles with stainless-steel accents cover the back wall.
Vignetos Italian Grill
1511 S. University Drive, Plantation, 954-915-0806, VignetosPlantation.com
After 12 years, this family-run southern Italian eatery is boasting spiffy new quarters in the Shops at One Plantation, as well as a new menu.
"Stiles, our landlord, purchased the shopping center back in 2005 and just remodeled the entire shopping center and also added two high-rise apartment buildings," says co-owner Angelo Di Piazza, who was born in Sicily. "In that process, our building was demolished, and they built us a new restaurant. We started from the ground floor this time and built it how we wanted it."
Lunch and dinner are served daily amid a larger dining room with a modern ambiance, large bar, wine display wall, a mix of stone and red walls, black porcelain floors, pendant lighting and black-and-white photographs of Italy framed in striking fashion.
A bigger kitchen has allowed for 10 new dishes, such as eggplant caponata flat bread ($8), shrimp and calamari vesuvio ($10, $14), eggplant stack with house-made fresh mozzarella ($8) and risotto with lobster and shrimp (market price). Select items are now available in half portions.
Up next: Di Piazza expects to close their 14-year-old Sunrise location at 1342 SW 160th Ave. in about a month for remodeling to mirror the design of this one.