Category Archives: Wellington Table – Signature Dish

From Oprah To ‘Shark Tank,’ Cheese And Charcuterie Board Company Boarderie Is On A Roll

From Oprah To ‘Shark Tank,’ Cheese And Charcuterie Board Company Boarderie Is On A Roll

It has been an outstanding end to a successful year for the locally owned cheese and charcuterie board company Boarderie, which offers beautiful and taste-tempting products for the holiday season and all year round.

Boarderie has truly been a group effort on the part of four partners — Aaron Menitoff (co-CEO and managing partner), Rachel Solomon (co-CEO and partner), Julie Larson Menitoff (co-COO and partner) and Angel Jerez (co-COO, partner, sommelier and cheesemonger).

The team operates very much like siblings who have strong opinions and rely heavily on each other for guidance and assistance to make it through the long days and stressful decisions. They laugh, agree, disagree, support each other, and at the end of the day, they love each other as siblings do.

Boarderie was honored by Oprah Winfrey in November on her exclusive “Favorite Things” list and featured on ABC’s “Shark Tank” TV show on Friday, Nov. 18, where they sealed a deal with Shark Lori Greiner. Boarderie is the first and only company shipping completely pre-assembled, catering-quality cheese and charcuterie boards overnight, nationwide.

Aaron Menitoff and his wife Julie Larson operated a gourmet catering company in the Palm Beach area for 20 years. With deep roots in Wellington’s equestrian community, and working with clients like Prince Harry, Ferrari International and StubHub at the Super Bowl, they were at the peak of their career.

However, when the pandemic hit, all events were canceled overnight, and they needed to pivot to keep their staff employed and business afloat. They knew cheese and charcuterie was one of the fastest-growing culinary trends, and that e-commerce was the only way to adapt to the new COVID-19 world, so they set out to create the first-ever completely pre-arranged cheese and charcuterie boards that could be shipped overnight from coast to coast.

Aaron and Julie literally bet the farm on Boarderie. They used all of their savings, took a home equity line against the farm, a Small Business Association loan and a line of credit against the catering business.

They used the money to retrofit their catering facility to accommodate board production, keep the staff paid and buy inventory. The company launched its first online sales channel with Goldbelly in October 2020, and by December of that year, they were one of the top-selling products out of 1,000 competitors!

The focus has been providing hassle-free, catering-quality displays that could be shipped overnight directly to customer’s doors… taking catering into the e-commerce space, where it has thrived.

But even after a storied life and career to date — including having built and operated a surf and yoga hotel in Nicaragua; living on a farm with chickens, goats, bunnies and horses; and having served thousands of meals doing disaster relief food service post hurricanes in Florida for the past six storms — they did not know or really anticipate that Boarderie would fill a major gap in the edible gifting market.

Traditional food gifts have fallen behind, Aaron Menitoff explained. They underserve their customers with inefficient, outdated and impersonal products. Boarderie, he said, serves customers whether they are hosting at home, sending a spectacular gourmet gift or simply want to indulge on their own. The company even does custom logo engraving on the keepsake wood boards for corporate gifting, which has been a big hit for companies looking to send a unique experience.

“One board has dozens of flavor combinations, so mixing and matching various ingredients in different assortments gives endless pairings for guests to experience,” Menitoff said. “We like to call it ‘Eventertainment,’ which we think is an experiential activity based around the sharing of food and friends, which are our two biggest passions in life.”

He is particularly proud of the wonderful boards available for this holiday season.

“This holiday season, we have our best boards yet and are shipping overnight nationwide all season long,” Menitoff said. “Don’t forget to schedule your holiday orders as soon as possible. At, you can select delivery dates up to 365 days in advance and ship all of your holiday orders to multiple addresses in one simple order by selecting ‘ship to multiple addresses at checkout.’”

Visit to see the full range of boards available from Boarderie.


Enjoy A Fusion Of Delicious Flavors Mediterranean Plate In The Mall At Wellington Green Brings Together The Cuisine Of Three Distinct Cultures

Enjoy A Fusion Of Delicious Flavors
Mediterranean Plate In The Mall At Wellington Green Brings Together The Cuisine Of Three Distinct Cultures

Story and Photos by Melanie Kopacz

Fill your plate with fresh and delicious Mediterranean cuisine reflecting a blend of three cultures — Greek, Egyptian and Lebanese — at Mediterranean Plate, also known as Med Plate. A gem that has been serving high-quality food at the Mall at Wellington Green for several years, Med Plate has now moved to a new location inside the mall’s food court area.

This casual eatery features delights from specially grilled lamb gyros to tabbouleh salad, homemade hummus, lentil soup and much more. All are the creations of the husband-and-wife duo Raymonde Ibrahim and Joseph Esnasuos. The couple pride themselves on bringing a mix of their eastern Mediterranean backgrounds to others through the love of food, which is all made from scratch each day, finessing each recipe to the liking of their customers.

“We try many times to make it better and add our own thoughts to the food,” Ibrahim explained. “All our recipes come from our experience.”

They also put a unique spin on their two main sauces. “Tzatziki sauce is Greek, but we make it Lebanese style. The Greek people make tzatziki with dill. We don’t make it with dill, we make it with fresh peppermint,” she said.

Their top sauce — the Mediterranean garlic with dill — is so beloved, it’s often suggested by customers that it be bottled. It’s always in high demand, with diners liking it on virtually everything.

The food variety at Med Plate is wide with portions just as big. Including many specials, like the Churrasco Platter.

“It’s a Spanish item. We grill it with our Mediterranean seasoning. We have a combination of our own seasonings. We use on the meat, beef, chicken and shrimp,” Ibrahim said. “My husband makes the combination of seasoning himself to marinate the meat. We make it fresh every day.”

A combination of seven seasonings, with a twist, gives the food a flavor all its own.

“We use nutmeg, a little cinnamon and ground clove,” she said. “The cinnamon has a very light taste, along with some paprika, garlic powder, dill and onion.”

All the meat is grilled, including the lamb. “People like the lamb,” Ibrahim said. “Most places put out the spinning machine. We don’t. We shave it while it’s still raw and grill it on both sides. It’s thick. We grill both sides to give it a better taste.”

Gyros are always top sellers. The Gyro Plate comes with sliced lamb and beef, Greek salad, rice, a soft pita and tzatziki sauce. The Chicken Kabob Plate is a hearty serving with two skewers of tender and juicy cubes of grilled chicken between red peppers atop two sides.

The tasty sides include Egyptian sauteed eggplant with red peppers and tomatoes. Lemon potatoes, rice pilaf or spicy rice are also options. Tabbouleh salad is a big favorite. It’s made with parsley, tomatoes, bulgur wheat, peppermint, onion, olive oil and lemon juice.

“It’s a Lebanese item, so it’s made with a lot of parsley,” Ibrahim said. “We also have kibbeh. This is a Lebanese and Syrian item. It’s cracked wheat stuffed with ground beef, but it can also be vegan.”

There are a number of vegan choices. From a plate of six grape leaves stuffed with herbs and rice to the popular homemade hummus with pita bread and choice of sauce. All are on a one-price menu. Another vegan entrée option is the Koshary Plate.

“It’s Egyptian. It’s a combination between rice, black lentil, fried crispy onions, marinara sauce and chickpeas all layered like a cake, and then you put the marinara on top and serve it with a choice of sauce,” Ibrahim explained.

To sweeten things up, the baklava is a must try. It’s perfectly flaky phyllo dough layered with walnuts and drenched in honey. Other variations include pistachio with a chocolate drizzle, making an incredibly rich and deliciously indulgent dessert.

The fusion of all these flavors comes largely from the couple’s time living in Port Said, Egypt, along the Mediterranean Sea.

“Ships coming west to east have to go through the Suez Canal and to my city,” Ibrahim said. “So, we have a lot of culture, and it’s what gives us inspiration in sharing the Greek, Egyptian and Lebanese cultures.”

The restaurant is a labor of love. They hope many more will explore their food and love it as much as they do. “Me and my husband are here every day,” Ibrahim said. “This is our life here. We try to satisfy our customers. We value and appreciate them.”

Mediterranean Plate is in the food court at the Mall at Wellington Green at 10300 W. Forest Hill Blvd. For more info., call (561) 762-3132 or visit


Bimini Twist’s 20th Anniversary

Bimini Twist’s 20th Anniversary The Popular Seafood Restaurant On Okeechobee Blvd. Has Been A Fine Dining Favorite For Two Decades

Story and photos by Melanie Kopacz

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this month, Bimini Twist restaurant is a popular destination for fresh seafood, hearty steaks and more. The award-winning eatery — an institution on Okeechobee Blvd. — is a fan favorite for both locals and visitors.

Bimini Twist shines all its own with twinkling lights that beam for all to admire from the road. Illuminated palm trees create an island appeal.

“You can’t help but notice the restaurant from the outside, because it’s so stunning to look at,” General Manager Cheryl Averta said. “And you don’t realize how big it is until you walk through the door.”

When you arrive, you’re certain to be struck by the sound of everyone having a great time at a high-quality restaurant that features a vast menu of offerings from sea or land, as well as several new specials, like escargot. The Blue Point oysters are also widely popular.

“All of our shellfish comes from the cold water of the North Atlantic. Our oysters come from Long Island,” Averta said. “They’re crispy and clean. If you want to eat an oyster to define what it tastes like, this is the first one you’d want to try.”

The Chargrilled Octopus is also a must-try, deliciously meaty, yet light.

“It’s Mediterranean inspired. We marinate, grill and serve it over roasted potatoes with a lemon-inspired dressing and a few red pepper flakes,” Averta said. “I tell people that if they want better octopus, they have to go to Santorini, Greece. While we’re predominantly a seafood restaurant, we have something for everybody.”

That includes fresh delicacies like hog snapper when in season. It’s Bimini Twist’s overall top seller, coming fresh from the Yucatan Peninsula and served with a butter and white wine sauce, or piccata style, with capers over linguini.

“For people who’ve never heard of it, I describe it as God’s perfect fish. It’s the richness of grouper, the sweetness of scallops and the flakiness of mahi,” Averta explained. “It’s caught with a spear. I tell people if they don’t like it, it’s on me. That’s how confident I am that they’re going to like it.”

Their yellowtail snapper is also a fan favorite. White, flakey and mild, it’s sautéed in lemon, white wine and butter. Lobster lovers can get their fill with the Twin Lobster Tails entrée. “Our lobster tails come from Maine,” Averta said. “You get a full pound of lobster on your plate.”

For a hearty taste of both worlds, mix it up with a 7-ounce lobster tail and a 12-ounce prime New York strip steak from the “Land & Sea” selections.

“There’s something for everybody — shrimp scampi, ribs, pork chops, Alaskan king crab, a full pound of it. We serve it open split, so all you need to do is take your cocktail fork and pull the meat right out of the shell,” Averta said.

The Seafood Pescatore is a bright and colorful dish full of flavor. It includes a half a lobster tail, mussels, shrimp, scallops and calamari atop red seafood sauce over imported Italian linguine.

Choose either an appetizer or entrée of the Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna. The beautiful color and texture make for an uplifting presentation.

There are also a few pasta dishes, like the Chicken Florentine served with linguine over an alfredo sauce with spinach. For the steak lovers, there are a number of choices, including a 16-ounce Delmonico ribeye or the 36-ounce Porterhouse served with bacon shallot butter.

The sides are incredibly tasty too, like top-pick Spinach Maria encrusted with breadcrumbs. “If you like creamed spinach, it’s like creamed spinach on steroids. The best you’ll ever have,” Averta said.

For kids, the menu has a variety of offerings, from fried fish to pasta.

When all is done, there’s dessert. Shareables are popular, including the apple crisp, which is served warm with praline pecan sauce and three scoops of vanilla ice cream, or the white chocolate bread pudding, also served with ice cream and a raspberry drizzle.

A delicious culinary experience is what this longtime staff of 60 strives for with traditional and elevated creations from Executive Chef Charles Wright, whether for an event or a weekly dinner.

People line up daily before open to get their favorite table and a taste of their beloved meals. Special events are hosted almost daily with private table service available for parties.

Complimentary valet parking is offered Fridays and Saturdays, and Thursdays in season. Catch the early bird menu Sunday through Thursday. Order before 6 p.m. and get 20 percent off several popular items.

The bar, which is the cornerstone of the restaurant, serves up an extensive drink menu with new twists on old favorites, like the Passion Fruit Martini, or the Bourbon Berry Smash, made with Woodford Reserve Bourbon. Beer on tap is ice cold and poured to perfection.

There’s seating near the open kitchen for those who enjoy watching the action. For a quieter area, request a table “under the fish.”

The ambiance is relaxed with low lighting, greenery creating privacy, bamboo-style woodwork throughout, and a playlist of music that took years to curate to the customers’ liking. The fun atmosphere extends out to the patio.

“We have people who want to stay because they want to sit through a song,” Averta said. “That’s when you know you have a good playlist.”

Bimini Twist as a destination is expanding with new experiential businesses that are part of what’s now called “Bimini Boulevard.” All are connected in the same plaza, allowing people to enjoy a broader experience.

“We wanted to make this strip a destination where you can come out for dinner and have other things to do while you’re here,” Averta said.

Enjoy an after-dinner cigar at Stogies Cigar Lounge. Indulge in a macaron and espresso at Merci Bimini French Café. Anchored on the end is a breakfast and lunch place, Portside. Then grab some flowers for your special occasion at Flagler Floral.

They’ll all be celebrating Bimini Twist’s 20th anniversary Saturday, Oct. 22 with a family fun day to include pumpkins, a hay maze and live characters, as well as two car shows. The weekend will be topped off with a formal dinner gala, with two seatings on Sunday, Oct. 23 with a live tenor singing. A portion of all proceeds will benefit the MiniMe Foundation, which helps children battling cancer.

“We’re like a family,” Averta said. “A key ingredient when we hire is kindness. It’s not every day a restaurant gets to be 20 years old.”

Bimini Twist is located at 8480 Okeechobee Blvd. Reservations are highly recommended. For more information, call (561) 784-2660 or visit


A Family Recipe For Success

A Family Recipe For Success Mario The Baker Restaurant In RPB Continues A Generations-Long Legacy In Fresh Italian Cooking

Story and Photos by Melanie Kopacz

What started as a father and son’s special connection through the love of cooking authentic Italian dishes together has turned into a legacy of recipes that have since been shared for generations across southeast Florida.

Mario The Baker has been dishing out its northeastern style pizza and Italian food since the restaurant opened in 2001 on State Road 7 in Royal Palm Beach. It has since become a staple in the community. It all goes back to the late Mario Scinicariello. “My father-in-law’s recipe for success was very easy,” General Manager Kevin Puebla said. “Keep things fresh and serve things you would only serve to your family.”

The motto at Mario The Baker is “Everything’s Fresh” — whether it’s picking up a hot pizza chock full of toppings like homemade Italian sausage, or sitting down to a piece of smooth and creamy lasagna. The longtime staff strives to greet customers with a familial flair, serving up hearty favorites that have made this a spot where many regulars spend time with friends and family.

“Mario started in Miami in 1969. His first restaurant was actually in Connecticut when he was 18 years old,” explained Puebla, who also got his start at the same age while working at the Royal Palm Beach restaurant as a teen.

That is where he met and later married Mario’s daughter, Palmina. The two have been running the family business ever since.

“Most of our recipes, like our tomato sauce and our marinara, are recipes that were his mother’s and father’s,” Puebla said. “They were also restaurateurs in Connecticut. When they first came over from Italy, his father was a baker by trade, hence the name, Mario The Baker.”

Both the baking and the sauce process start early every morning.

“We simmer our tomato sauce for five hours every day,” Puebla said. “It’s still the same old-school recipes that he had when he opened his first restaurant.”

That sauce is key to the recipes. A touch of sweetness comes from Italian tomatoes along with layers of flavor.

“The flavor profile — we use pork bones and sauté those with onions and garlic and add our tomatoes. A little bit of seasoning, and the flavor as it simmers for five hours — you get the flavor of the bones. There’s no meat in the sauce, but we use it as a flavoring, like you’d use a stock. It’s different from basic marinara sauce,” Puebla said.

While the sauce is simmering, the dough is rising. Balls of dough are draped on trays across the counters, ready to be turned into a feast.

“On a Friday night, we can push out between 350 to 400 pizzas,” he said. “Our pizza sauce is really simple. We use fresh, Italian tomatoes. We grind them with a small amount of seasoning.”

Cheese and pepperoni may be the most popular toppings, but the Italian sausage is a specialty. “We make it homemade as well,” Puebla said. “We use freshly ground pork butt with our seasoning. That’s it. No fillers, no nothing.”

Also popular is “Our Favorite Pizza,” made with sliced tomatoes, garlic and basil.

Before any entrée, come the must-have hot garlic rolls. They’re baked to perfection with just enough crisp on the outside and a light, airy inside, with freshly chopped garlic on top.

“On a good weekend day, between our catering and dining business, we go through four or five thousand garlic rolls in a day,” Puebla said.

Along with the rolls, comes a side of spaghetti with dishes like the chicken parmesan — one of the biggest sellers.

“It’s a local favorite. We do a tremendous amount of catering from 40 people to 1,500, and I’d have to say the majority have chicken parmesan in their catering,” Puebla said. “All our chicken is free range. No hormones, no antibiotics. It’s very clean. You can definitely taste the quality.”

Quality is key when it comes to picking tomatoes, too.

“We’re constantly on top of trying to be sure we have the right product and good quality. Throughout the year, we’ll buy tomatoes from different packers and farms in Italy, because different times of the year, different harvests could be riper, or a better product,” Puebla said. “The California tomatoes have a little tang to them, and Italian tomatoes tend to be a little sweeter.”

The sauce is a big factor in the lasagna, too. The ground beef is layered with Sopraffina ricotta.

“In Italian, ‘sopraffina’ means super fine. So, it’s really creamy, not lumpy. And the meat, we mix with some of our sauce. It’s delicious,” Puebla said. “Our veal parmesan is also huge. It’s a top-round butcher cut. Most people wouldn’t think coming into a little place like ours, that you’d get something like that, but we use a really good product.”

There are a number of pasta choices in addition to some newer favorites — including the chicken francese.

“It’s very light, made with a lemon, white wine and butter sauce. We added a few things to the menu, along with a porcini mushroom tortellini with a shiitake parmesan cream sauce,” Puebla said.

From salads to soups and subs, kids’ meals and desserts, there’s something for everyone who loves Italian, along with a selection of beer and wine.

Longtime customer, Carolyn Reynolds, dines with friends and family regularly, as if it were her home. “I come here two to three times a week. We’re like family,” Reynolds said.

The large and casual open space can hold 150 people with another 30 in the outdoor dining area. A brown tiled ceiling and vintage stained-glass lighting are reminiscent of a traditional pizzeria. Family keepsakes line the walls.

“I’ve watched a lot of families grow up here, including my own,” Puebla said. “It’s a family environment, and one of us is always here. It’s really important to us that one of us is always here to greet the customers.”

So, while namesake Mario Scinicariello may have passed away in 2016, his love of food, community and gathering lives on.

Mario The Baker is at 1007 State Road 7 in Royal Palm Beach. For more info., call (561) 798-4030 or visit


Hot Chicken Made Fresh To Order

Hot Chicken Made Fresh To Order
Hot Chicks House Of Chicken Brings A Spicy Taste Of Nashville Here To Wellington

Story And Photos By Melanie Kopacz

From the first bite into a “Hot Chick” sandwich, be ready for a complex sensory experience. The layers of tastes and textures combine hot with crispy and sweet within the softness of a lightly toasted brioche bun. The complex flavors make for a perfect mix, like the Music City of Nashville itself — home of hot chicken.

Now, with its own twist on this southern favorite comes Hot Chicks House of Chicken, which is heating things up while bringing a taste of Nashville to the Pointe at Wellington Green.

“All places have their own chicken sandwiches, but their spices are blended within the flour of the chicken. So, when they fry it, that’s how you get it,” co-owner Matt Nguyen explained. “But ours is actually dipped in that. You get more of the flavor of spices than frying it in the oil. It’s dipped into the spices after it’s fried. We basically glaze it.”

It’s that dip into the spices that makes all the difference, creating mouth and eye watering bites.

Hot Chicks is an eatery where birds of a certain spicy feather are flocking to get their heat fix made from a base of paprika, cayenne and habanero peppers, along with pickles to blend in with the heat.

Guests can choose their heat level, however.

“Most common is the medium, because it’s not overbearing, but it’s not underwhelming,” Nguyen said. “But we do get a lot of people who come in and order cluckin’.”

Cluckin’, as in cluckin’ hot — the highest heat level. Their spice ranges from no heat, to mild, medium, hot, to the very hottest for those who dare.

“The cluckin’ is a little on the sweeter side, so it’s sweet and spicy,” Nguyen explained. “We use a Korean chili pepper. It’s coated on top of the chicken as well. We dip the chicken in the hot mixture and cook that on top with the chicken.”

If you want spicy, you can get it at Hot Chicks.

“Many people don’t actually expect it to be as spicy as it is because they go to other chicken places and expect spicy. When they try ours, it’s actually spicy, and they grab a jug of water,” Nguyen said. “They like the flavor of it and appreciate it’s actually a hot, spicy sandwich.”

The Brioche bun is toasted just before the sandwich is put together, so it’s still warm, then topped with “cluck” sauce, a signature, mayo-based sauce with a little bit of honey mustard, garlic powder and Cajun seasoning. Then for some sweet and crunchy atop the chicken is coleslaw made with a touch of honey.

“People like our coleslaw because it’s not vinegar based,” Nguyen said. “It’s mayo based, so it’s not soggy. You still get a crunch with it.”

The next crunch comes from the fried batter into the juicy chicken. All the poultry is free of antibiotics, growth hormones and preservatives. The bottom layer of the sandwich has a piece of mild American cheese and a bed of pickles, making for a satisfying round of flavors and textures.

To offset the heat are the popular crispy fries with just the right amount of crunch.

“We double fry them, so they’re a little more crispy. We usually make fries by order so when they get it, it’s fresh and not soggy,” Nguyen said. “All is as fresh as can be. We are definitely not fast food.”

It’s written in neon lights, above the register, that every sandwich is made to order. Another slogan, as you walk in the door, is, “Nashville hot chicken with a little bit of Seoul.”

That’s where the Korean Chicken Wings come in.

“The Korean style is just another flavor. It’s a more Asian flavor. We want to be a little different with the taste. We like to give people the option with that,” Nguyen said.

Those who don’t want their chicken in a sandwich can order either dark or white quarters, which can also be combined into a family meal.

“Because we fry our quarters, the skin is very crispy along with the seasoning. A lot of people love the skin on the quarters,” Nguyen said.

Another item is the Taco Chick. It features a chicken tender in a taco topped with a cilantro coleslaw, avocado and cheese.

The Slim Chick is a grilled chicken breast version of the sandwich served either Nashville or Korean style, while the Seoul Chick is fried Korean style.

Some tasty sides complement it all, such as creamy mac and cheese, potato salad and southern greens. There’s also dipping sauces, like the honey barbecue.

To blend it all together is Hot Chicks’ own brand of sweet tea, which is house made every morning and bottled.

The space combines funky and colorful artwork representing the diversity of the music that Nashville is known for. That and its hot chicken, for which the original recipe dates back to the 1920s in the kitchen of the legendary Thornton Prince. But it wasn’t until about a decade ago that the craze exploded to reach world-wide notoriety.

Now, those in the Wellington area can get their fix, whether they dine in the large seating area or take their tasty food to the outdoor covered patio with plenty of picnic tables to sit and enjoy.

A black and white mural of the Nashville skyline welcomes diners — a nod to the hometown of one of the co-owners, who brought his own take on the recipe with him to South Florida. This is the second Hot Chicks location opening in just a year and a half, with the first in Pembroke Pines.

The restaurant is open Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. for dine-in, carry out or delivery through Grubhub.

Hot Chicks House of Chicken is located at 10140 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Suite 170, in the Pointe at Wellington Green. For more info., call (561) 508-5502 or visit


Rich Flavors Inside A Blanket Of Deliciousness

Rich Flavors Inside A Blanket Of Deliciousness Enjoy Fresh-Made Crepes, Smoothies And More At Keywa’s In The Mall At Wellington Green

Story And Photos By Melanie Kopacz

Sweeten your life with rich flavors wrapped inside a warm blanket of deliciousness at the newly opened creperie, Keywa’s in the Mall at Wellington Green.

“We specialize in sweet crepes,” owner Julian Sierra said. “We’ve created our own recipes.”

An array of colorful pictures are displayed along the menu wall, featuring mouth-watering creations that are sure to satisfy anyone’s taste buds. The menu ranges from a number of sweet and savory crepes to a tasty variety of boba teas, smoothies, thick milkshakes and an assortment of frozen drinks.

“We try to give customers something they can’t forget.” Sierra said. “If they always remember, then they always want to come back for it.”

Sierra knows what customers love to come back for, as his recipes have turned into cravings for many who frequent the original Keywa’s location in the Boynton Beach Mall, which opened last fall. Less than one year later, co-owner Tania Eifert, Sierra’s wife, feels blessed to have this opportunity to be a part of the Wellington community.

“We appreciate the friendships we make with our customers. It’s not like you pick up your food and leave,” she said. “We really like to have a relationship with the clients.”

Situated near the mall’s food court entrance, the freestanding location sits alongside the sunroom of the main dining area. A portrait of their beloved border collie Keywa, the eatery’s namesake, greets customers at the register. The mascot’s name means “one of good spirit,” and it’s that spirit Sierra wants the creperie to exude onto others, with its friendly staff and delicious, comforting flavors made with fresh ingredients.

“The general idea is crepes. Not many places have them,” Eifert said. “Little by little, we’ll keep adding more when we see what our customers like. We’ll listen to their ideas and grow with them.”

Customers can grab a beeper for when their food is ready, but many prefer to watch the mesmerizing crepe-making process, as the batter is quickly spread and spun as it cooks. Then the layering of the fillings begins.

To start your crepe journey, you will choose one of three bases: Nutella, Arequipe (a caramel/dulce de leche spread) or cream cheese. An assortment of fresh-cut fruit comes next with a choice of chocolate or caramel syrup, then topped with vanilla, chocolate or strawberry ice cream and a dollop of whipped cream.

The Vienne crepe is a popular choice, filled with Arequipe, brownie, sliced strawberries and vanilla ice cream with caramel syrup drizzled on the folds topped by whipped cream.

The Alaska crepe uses cream cheese for its base, filled with peach chunks and graham crackers, and topped with vanilla ice cream melting into the warm crepe.

For a richer-tasting dessert, try the Chocó crepe. It’s made with M&Ms inside and out, along with some brownie, then drizzled with both chocolate and caramel syrup, topped with both vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.

For a nutty flavor, there’s the Rome crepe. It’s made with walnuts and chocolate ice cream, drizzled with caramel and chocolate syrup. The London crepe is layered with Nutella, banana slices, vanilla and chocolate ice cream with whipped cream, while the Paris crepe also uses Nutella and banana, but mixes it up with graham crackers and vanilla ice cream.

For a chocolatey fruit combo, check out the Monaco crepe, made with Nutella, strawberries and blueberries. Not looking for dessert? A savory option is the America crepe. It’s made with ham and cheese, either Swiss or cheddar, and butter.

Complement your crepe with one of several smoothie options.

The Dubai is a rich and filling choice made with sweet peach slices, passion fruit and pineapple. The Sidney has blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, making it nutrient-rich on top of really tasty.

The Colombia — where Sierra hails from — features a mix of blueberries, strawberries and a twist of pineapple, while the Peru — which is Eifert’s heritage — has fresh-cut chunks of watermelon, passion fruit and banana.

If crepes and smoothies aren’t enough choices, there’s even more.

Rich, thick, handmade milkshakes feature flavors from strawberry and cookies and cream, to chocolate with drizzled syrup or classic vanilla.

Boba tea is also on the menu. Create your own delicious mix with either bursting balls or tapioca balls. Frozen drinks round it all out with some spectacular flavors. Pineapple, passion fruit and mint make for a flavorful mix in the Hawaii drink. A different twist on a classic is the Coconut Lemonade with lemon, coconut cream, condensed milk and coconut milk. For that coffee craving, try the Frappé made with coffee, chocolate syrup and whipped cream.

Still looking for more choices? There are tasty waffles on the menu, too! The signature Banana Split waffle is made with Nutella, banana slices and strawberries, while the Tartufo features Arequipe and strawberries. Both come with vanilla ice cream.

It’s a personal indulgence of sorts for Sierra to turn his passion into a profession after leaving an accounting job and side work to help his parents who became ill. After only six years in the United States, he has learned English, got married and just welcomed a new baby boy. He’s living the American dream, working hard alongside his wife, while making his creations that represent a melting pot of flavors from around the world. Flavors they hope will sweeten your life.

Keywa’s is inside the food court at the Mall at Wellington Green, located at 10300 W. Forest Hill Blvd. Check out the menu at If you’re not ready to eat immediately, you can order carry out, as well as delivery through Uber Eats and Grubhub.


Take A Journey To Sardinia

Take A Journey To Sardinia
Zona Blu Brings The Unique Cuisine Of This Mediterranean Island To Life

Story and photos by Melanie Kopacz

Dare to be enlightened through an exploration of flavors from the Italian island of Sardinia in a culinary journey at the new local restaurant Zona Blu. The Sardinian style cuisine features an eclectic magic that makes for delectable culinary art with Mediterranean seafood, fresh-baked breads, unique cheeses and imported ingredients.

“We love our island,” co-owner Debbie Marras Bautista said. “We wanted to do something that reflected our cuisine in Sardinia, our culture.”

The restaurant is celebrating that uniqueness with the grand opening at its new location on Okeechobee Blvd., following a thriving first location in Broward’s Weston community. Sisters Debbie Marras Bautista and Sheila Marras David partnered with the menu’s creator, co-owner and Corporate Chef Andrea Fadda.

“The common thread for all of us is that we’re from the island of Sardinia, and that was Andrea’s vision. After traveling the world as a chef, to have these dishes unique to the island on our menu, and that’s what sets us apart,” Bautista said. “We seem to have tapped into a niche. We’re not your typical Italian.”

This is a cuisine that originated from a place in the world that’s so unique, it’s considered a “Blue Zone.” Sardinia is one of only five designated places in the world deemed by researchers as an area where people are known for their longevity, living 100 years and older.

“The food that they eat and the wine that’s made from grapes that are grown in Sardinia that have antioxidants,” Bautista explained. “They have benefits attributed to the longevity of the people who live there, so we wanted to incorporate that into the concept, and that’s why we named it Zona Blu.”

The illuminating and tranquil blue hues throughout the dining room set the tone, reflective of the Mediterranean Sea where Sardinia is situated above Sicily, making for a serene dining experience. An extensive outdoor patio is complete with blue shade awnings. Sardinian wines and varieties from around the world fill racks around the restaurant.

“Our maître d’ is from Sardinia and is basically our sommelier,” Bautista said. “He selects all of our wine, so we have an extensive wine selection from Sardinia, but also all over Italy, France, California, Washington. On Wednesdays, we have 50 percent off our wines that are up to $100.”

Paintings by a Sardinian artist are spaced around the restaurant portraying the people of the region, giving a feeling of who these recipes represent and the fishermen who reel in the fresh catch.

Like Octopus alla Griglia, for starters. The crispy grilled Mediterranean octopus is presented atop arugula salad and aromatic roasted potatoes.

A must-try is the Soufflé al Pecorino. It’s the signature appetizer — a creamy delight made with pecorino cheese from Sardinia with truffle sauce and mushrooms topped with a crispy traditional flat bread.

To help navigate the menu is a knowledgeable staff that helps make the culinary experience one to savor. Also on board is Executive Chef Nico Zallu, who not only loves being in the kitchen, but he also loves singing to the customers.

A huge tableside flaming cheese wheel is also an interactive favorite and a tasty experience.

“They prepare the pasta in the cheese wheel and scrape the cheese from the aged big wheel onto the plates. People love the show, and it’s delicious,” Bautista said. “They have all this fresh cheese. It’s something that’s not on our menu, but we have it, and it’s very popular.”

Another experience for the senses is the Spaghetti al Cartoccio with mixed seafood, fresh tomato sauce and pasta covered in a pastry dough baked in a wood-burning oven.

“It comes out as a big puff of pastry, and then they open it in front of the guest, and all they have is the aroma of the fresh seafood,” Bautista explained.

Freshly served Salumeria comes displayed on authentic Sardinian cork serving trays. “One of the main resources is cork, so when you drive around the island, you see all these trees, where the bottom of them is bare because people shaved the cork, and it grows back, and artisans use the cork to make shoes and purses. We wanted to bring that to our restaurant,” Bautista said.

The Salumeria platters come with a choice of meats, including Prosciutto Crudo and Salame Felino, and cheeses like Pecorino Semi Stagionato, with sprinklings of fresh olives served with a side of jam and giardiniera. “It’s a beautiful presentation and very unique,” she said. “People always ask us if they can buy the tray.”

Another plate with a beautiful presentation and full of flavor is the Fregola Sarda ai Frutti di Mare — a Sardinian couscous-style pasta with mixed fresh seafood.

You can pair any dish with a drink from the stocked bar, and happy hour is daily from 4 to 7 p.m. Zona Blu even has signature drinks specially created for them by a mixologist from Bacardi with a Sardinian twist. “We use a liqueur called mirto, and it’s grown only on the island, kind of like a licorice,” Bautista said of the spirit that comes from myrtle bushes growing wild all over the island.

One of those is the bestselling Wild Sardinia Martini, made with Wild Sardinia gin and mirto. Another favorite is the Cora Sardu, which means “Sardinian Heart.”

An array of desserts makes it hard to choose, including pistachio sorbet coated with pistachio crumbles and a tiramisu layered dessert dusted with cocoa powder. The most popular is a family secret recipe.

“Our parents are from Sardinia, and they’re the ones who make the traditional Sardinian dessert Seadas con Miele Sardo, a homemade puff pastry filled with sweet cheese, lightly fried and drizzled with Sardinian honey. I don’t think my mom will ever give up that recipe,” Bautista laughed.

It truly is a family affair, right from the beginning when their uncle, a restaurateur from Michigan, suggested the sisters help Chef Andrea Fadda find a location for his talents in Weston. The sisters used their expertise in marketing and advertising to create a concept that has since exploded with community support. “It’s not only that we work well together, but we’re also having fun,” Bautista said. “Andrea is like a brother, and we’re so excited about this second location.”

In true Sardinian style, Zona Blu does stand out like an island of its own.

Zona Blu is located at 8170 Okeechobee Blvd., Suite 1, just west of Benoist Farms Road. For more information, call (561) 323-4799 or visit


Tasty Delights From Colombia

Tasty Delights From Colombia
El Rinconcito Colombiano #2 Offers Patrons Flavorful Latin Food In A Casual Atmosphere

Story and Photos by Melanie Kopacz

It’s Colombian food as authentic as being in the coffee-growing capital of Pereira itself. The mountainous coffee-growing region of western Colombia is known for mild Arabica beans and a number of traditional flavorful foods. It’s those delectable recipes and other regional Latin dishes that can be found at El Rinconcito Colombiano #2 here in the western communities.

Rinconcito Colombiano is nestled at the southeast corner of Southern Blvd. and State Road 7 in the Western Plaza shopping center with Home Depot. The tricolors of Colombia’s national flag with yellow, blue and red painted outside the restaurant proudly welcome customers as they walk in.

The doors at this location opened four years ago to complement its original West Palm Beach restaurant. For many longtime customers, like Patricia Recalt and her son Giovanni, the food here feeds their soul.

“We’ve shared a lot of special meals over the years. My husband, Arnaldo, who was from Cuba, passed away two years ago. We would come here for the traditional soups,” Patricia Recalt said.

She and her friend, Marielena Hotusing, agreed it’s that soup and the many other Colombian dishes that they find both so comforting and appetizing.

“If we can’t make it, we will come and get it here, because it’s the same thing as making it,” Recalt said. “It’s home-cooked food, and it’s delicious.”

It’s delicious — and also as fresh as you can get.

“Everything is freshly made daily. We even have our own private butcher,” Rinconcito Colombiano’s General Manager Gladys Restrepo said. “We’re always busy because of the natural food and fresh ingredients.”

Fresh ingredients, like in Colombia’s national dish, Bandeja Paisa, from the Antioquia region.

The hearty meal includes grilled steak, fried egg, pork belly, sausage, sweet plantains, beans and rice, as well as a half an avocado. It and other platters range around $13.

The menu also includes flavorful seafood dishes and several chicken options, like Pechuga De Pollo Asada. The marinated and tenderly grilled chicken breast comes with rice and salad.

Tasty and very filling empanadas are enough for a meal in itself. While other areas of South America make the pockets with dough, Colombian empanadas are made from corn meal and deep fried, making for a soft-yet-crunchy bite into the full chunks of lean beef and potato mixture steaming hot inside. Aside from beef filling, you can get them with either chicken or cheese, and they are $1.59 each.

Sandwiches include the Colombian Burger topped with bacon, pineapple, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and oozing with ketchup, mustard and mayo, with a topping of potato chips and served with a side of fries.

The restaurant’s walls feature the typical street art in the city of Pereira, where Restrepo hails from, with a brightly painted mural of the mountainous landscape as a traditional bus travels along the Andes mountainside. A trellis hangs above with greenery. TVs fill the corners set to stations from the home country.

The restaurant is often filled with people from all ethnicities and ages enjoying the food and conversation. The cozy dining room features a mixture of tables of four to some booths and high tops. There’s seating for 55, as well as an outdoor patio. Or sit up at the bar and grab one of the traditional coffees, like cafe con leche, or a frothy cappuccino. There are also a number of fresh juices, like passion fruit with milk. Several imported libations are also available with a running special of a bucket of beer or Cubetazo at $19 for five.

A number of bakery items will tease your tastebuds, including cheese-filled breads like Pandebono. About a dozen delectable pastries are on display for the choosing. There are also gourmet desserts, like creamy rice pudding and more.

If it’s a meal to start out the day, breakfast is served every day until noon with a number of popular dishes. The Tamal Paisa, a breakfast tamale, is a favorite for many. A corn cake stuffed with chicken, pork, potatoes, peas and carrots, it is then wrapped in banana leaves with a side of rice or corn cake.

Latin music fills the background as people enjoy the cultural culinary delights. For many, it truly is a taste of home.

“Our staff is like family,” Restrepo said, adding that the nationally recognized Colombian food at Rinconcito Colombiano comes from many family recipes.

She wants all who eat there to feel the same love in those recipes, too.

El Rinconcito Colombiano #2 is located at 9900 Southern Blvd. in the shopping plaza at the southeast corner of State Road 7 and Southern Blvd. near Home Depot. The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. with breakfast served from 7 a.m. to noon. For more information or takeout, call (561) 304-8650 or (561) 469-1689.


Great Food With Amazing Entertainment

Great Food With Amazing Entertainment Newly Renovated Boonies Wild West Saloon Serves Up Great Food With A Country Flair

Story and Photos by Melanie Kopacz

Boonies Wild West Saloon is like an old friend waving to drivers along a road, not so less traveled anymore. But the longtime hangout along busy Southern Blvd. in Loxahatchee Groves is seeing a vibrant rebirth. It’s bringing in a multi-generational crowd that can enjoy a variety of live music, mouthwatering American cuisine with a southern twist and an all-around down-home vibe.

“Our staff is the heart and soul of this place and takes care of everyone who walks through that door,” General Manager Jim Wallace said. “We try to focus on treating everyone like they’re family from the minute they walk in.”

Since its re-opening under new ownership in September 2021, a new vision has come to life for Boonies.

“It’s a vision of having a western live venue. The area needed it. A local place they can go to dance, listen to live music and enjoy a great family friendly experience,” Wallace said.

Larger-than-life prints of country icons like Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash welcome you in, while an array of flickering hues ranging from electric blue to green and pink along a stage backed by an American flag plays host to out-of-town bands as well as local acts.

“It’s almost electric when you walk in on a Friday or Saturday night, and you have the live bands playing, and you see people up and dancing and just having a great time,” Wallace said. “We recently had a Toby Keith Tribute band. That was really exciting.”

Just as exciting as the live entertainment is the wide-ranging menu. Part steakhouse, part southern pub, Boonies is a blend that has an array of options for anyone’s taste.

For meat lovers, there’s a number of options. From hand-cut filet mignon to Delmonico hand-cut boneless ribeye, or the Chairman’s Reserve New York Strip, which happens to be the chef’s favorite. “I cut all the steaks by hand, and we grill to order. People love them. My favorite is the New York strip, but this crowd loves the ribeye,” explained Arturo Lorenzo, the chef at Boonies Wild West Saloon.

The crowd also loves the Lollipop Lamb Chops. This delicacy is a huge seller. “They’re French style,” Lorenzo said. “We marinate them overnight with garlic, rosemary and mint, and grill them to the customer’s taste, then add a balsamic glaze.”

The redskin whipped potatoes with gravy along with steamed asparagus are two of the most popular pairings. Two sides come with each entrée, with a number of choices.

The Wild West Burger comes made to order topped with barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese, sizzling applewood bacon and a trio of beer-battered onion rings on a brioche bun accompanied by light, crispy French fries.

Boonies’ Gator Bites are also a top favorite. Deep fried, locally sourced gator is made to order and served with the house special sauce. The Stacked Nachos are also a crowd-pleasing appetizer piled with homemade chili, queso, pico de gallo, jalapeños and cilantro crema.

For greens, salad options include Boonies’ House with mixed lettuce, cucumbers, cheddar jack cheese, tomatoes, red onions, croutons and a choice of dressing. Options of lightly blackened shrimp, salmon, mahi-mahi or chicken can be added.

“Our chef is phenomenal,” Wallace said. “He’s gifted and cares about every ingredient in everything that’s made. We have an incredible team in the kitchen. They have a dedication to putting out great food.”

A fully stocked bar and friendly bartending staff is ready to serve from open to close. Order your favorite or choose from signature cocktails, which can be served in a Boonies’ 20-ounce souvenir LED cowboy boot mug with colors beaming through drinks like in the Boot Scootin’, which is made with Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Malibu Rum, Creme De Banana, pineapple and orange juice, with a touch of grenadine. The Southern Mule has its own spin made with Jameson Orange Whiskey, Fever Tree Ginger Beer and lime juice.

The weekly event schedule is packed. Each day and night of the week there is action. Mondays are open for various community events with a big focus on charity.

“We’re very big into giving back. We try to sponsor as much as we can,” Wallace said. “Every month, we do a different charity event where we do a quarter auction option in addition to a portion of proceeds from sales.”

Tuesdays are always for karaoke, so warm up those vocals and grab the mic. Wednesdays are Bingo Night, popular and friendly for all ages with payouts. Thursday night is Ladies Night with line dancing lessons, an in-house DJ until midnight and discounted drinks.

Fridays and Saturdays are all about live entertainment with bands from near and far taking center stage. Finally, on Sundays, it’s poker at 1, 3 and 5 p.m.

There are a number of specials each week. Monday through Friday, happy hour runs from open until 6 p.m. with two-for-one well drinks, domestic drafts and house wine, as well as 25 percent off appetizers. Early bird specials run from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., when entrées are the same portion size at a discounted price.

“We didn’t want to change the portion, but allow for those who don’t want to be out late to still get to try our most popular items, without sacrificing size,” Wallace explained.

For the really early birds, breakfast is also now being served both Saturday and Sunday mornings from 7 to 11 a.m.

A kids menu ranging from burger bites to meatball marinara with several sides make for a well-rounded selection.

For sweet treats, desserts include Killer Key Lime Pie, as well as a Turtle Cheesecake topped with chocolate ganache, creamy caramel and pecans.

Aside from the food and drinks, it’s game time with a billiards area to the left of the bar, which offers additional seating, relaxed lighting and bar games. The pool tables extend outside under the large patio area, which will include an outdoor bar come late spring. Both smoking and non-smoking outdoor areas are available. Corn hole is also on hand to play.

With so many options, Boonies strives to be an all-in-one, early morning and late-night place for everyone.

“We’re really all about the community, not just giving back, but trying to make them feel this is a place they can call their own,” Wallace said. “From regulars to those trying for the first time, we want to exceed their expectations.”

Find Boonies on Facebook and Instagram for the daily schedule and specials. Take out is available, as is delivery from DoorDash. The restaurant opens at 11:30 a.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. on weekends, and closes at 1 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday, 2 a.m. Thursday, and 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Boonies Wild West Saloon is located in the Palms West Plaza at 14555 Southern Blvd. in Loxahatchee Groves. For more information, call (561) 855-7405 or visit


Palm Beach Meets New York City

Palm Beach Meets New York City
Maxwell’s Plum Restaurant Brings A Piece Of History To Life In Wellington

Story by Jennifer Martinez  |  Photos by Libby Volgyes

Wellington just got a little sexier with the opening of Maxwell’s Plum, a new restaurant on South Shore Blvd. The vibe: think Palm Beach meets New York City. The food: tantalizing tapas, a delectable raw bar and entrée options for every taste. The cocktails: handcrafted, thoughtful and always craveable. And, of course, an entertainment lineup that has already solidified its place on the social scene.

“We are excited to have opened with season here in Wellington,” owner Jenny Oz LeRoy said. “I grew up in the original Maxwell’s Plum and loved what the restaurant meant to so many. In day-to-day travels, we always hear the most incredible stories from those who visited. It became a dream of mine to open a new Maxwell’s Plum, and what better place than Wellington?”

LeRoy, the great-granddaughter of Jack Warner, a legendary Hollywood director, producer and one of the founders of the film studio Warner Brothers, spent her youth in New York City’s iconic Tavern on the Green, the Russian Tea Room and the original Maxwell’s Plum, all of which her parents Kay and Warner LeRoy owned and operated. And, her middle name, that is no accident. With a life of adventure and excitement, it was only fitting to incorporate a little of her grandfather’s heroine, Dorothy, from The Wizard of Oz.

In this new venture, LeRoy, an avid equestrian who has been visiting and competing in Wellington since 2001, and her team have captured the original New York City restaurant vibe while crafting a new dining experience. The focus was a marriage of creating a destination for locals and knowing the importance of events that complement Wellington’s equestrian season.

The restaurant has quickly become a must-visit for world travelers and, year-round, South Florida residents. Aside from the weekly drag nights and polo after parties, the culinary team has designed a menu of locally sourced ingredients presented among impeccable tablescapes.

The menu already has standout favorites, including the house-made chips and Truffled French Onion Dip; Steak Tartare with wagyu terres major, smoked egg yolk, traditional garnish and crostini; and Whole Roasted Yellowtail Snapper with olives, capers and lemon confit. Pizzas, steaks, chops and a full raw bar round out the menu.

Leading the beverage program is Christian Hartmann, who hand selects each and every ingredient being served in the cocktails. While his talents speak for themselves, it is his warm and energetic personality that puts guests at ease while encouraging them to step out of their comfort zones to try new cocktails. His hand-curated wine list is not to be missed, nor is the Rosé Café, which will soon feature a drive-through option.

Just as important as what is being served, is the setting. As the original Maxwell’s Plum was known for being a showcase filled with Art Nouveau decor, kaleidoscopic stained-glass ceilings and walls, Tiffany lamps, ceramic animals, etched glass and crystal, LeRoy knew that opening a new location without several pieces of art from the original location would be a miss. Using her stylistic eye, she was able to incorporate pieces into the new look, while keeping that fresh, South Florida feel.

“My dad was very theatrical and larger than life in his trademark paisley suits. Maxwell’s Plum is where he met my mom and basically where I grew up,” said LeRoy, who noted that the family’s popular restaurant was once serving an average 1,200 customers a day. “He hand-selected so many of the décor pieces, and I wanted to honor him by bringing them here.”

Following her father’s passing in 2001, LeRoy successfully managed Tavern on the Green until 2009 when she married two of her biggest passions — horses and events. She founded Shale Hill Hospitality and turned her 82-acre Hudson Valley working horse farm into a magical wedding and unique event venue specializing in outdoor dining.

That experience is the perfect addition to the offerings of Maxwell’s Plum’s off-site catering and experiences, which can be brought to life from Wellington to Palm Beach and everywhere in between and beyond.

“My father often quoted director Elia Kazan, who told him, ‘You’ve got to go out on a limb, and if you don’t fall off the limb, you haven’t gone out far enough.’ I’ve remembered this at the start of every new challenge,” said LeRoy, whose love of horses also led her to Wellington, where she continues to offer private events to clients both on and off-site.

Maxwell’s Plum is currently serving dinner Wednesday through Sunday, beginning at 5 p.m. Happy hour/social hour is 5 to 7 p.m. daily, and special nightly events happen weekly. Stay tuned for lunch and brunch service coming soon.

Maxwell’s Plum is located at 12300 South Shore Blvd. in Wellington’s Mizner Place plaza. To learn more, call (561) 793-2110. For up-to-date information, visit and follow @maxwellsplum for updates.