Category Archives: Wellington Table – Signature Dish

Enjoy A Traditional Argentinian Experience At Asador Patagonia

Enjoy A Traditional Argentinian Experience At Asador Patagonia

By Meredith Burow

Argentinian steakhouse Asador Patagonia brings an authentic taste of South America to the western communities.

“We wanted to try something different,” said owner Natalia Ayala, explaining why she and her husband, Juan, left Argentina and moved to the United States nearly two decades ago.

Eighteen years, two children, a restaurant and tiki bar later, and “different” is still the family’s mantra.

Bringing a taste of their home country to central Palm Beach County, the couple opened Asador Patagonia, a restaurant nestled quietly in the Royal Inn Hotel plaza at the northwest corner of Royal Palm Beach and Southern boulevards, about 10 years ago. The establishment includes a large dining area, a private events space, an indoor bar, an outdoor tiki hut and a patio overlooking the lake.

The Ayalas wear many hats at the restaurant, cooking, cleaning, managing and serving. It’s a big job, but it is a dream that became a reality.

“You think of something, and God gives you the resources,” Ayala said. “We don’t know exactly why, but it happened.”

But what makes it so different? Unlike other restaurants, Asador Patagonia implements a traditional, Argentinian grilling method: charcoal.

While a typical cooking technique in the food service industry elicits a gas grill, the Ayalas wanted the community to enjoy the rich, unique flavor brought out when grilling with charcoal. Prior to being seared on the grill, the meat is flavored with salt alone, and according to customer reviews, it does not disappoint.

“Nobody knows about Argentinian food, and it’s a different kind of food. At a lot of restaurants, it’s all the same,” Ayala said. “Argentinian food is so different — it’s a lot of meat, but we cook the meat on the charcoal. That’s the difference. It’s a different steak house.”

Hailed by some as “the best Argentinian steakhouse in Florida,” Asador Patagonia is known for both its great food and excellent customer service. Its menu is a collection of meat choices for the asado, the term used for a traditional Argentinian barbecue.

Guests can choose from a traditional Argentinian Grill, including flank steak, skirt steak, short ribs, chicken, sausage and more, or choose their own meat selection from a variety of steaks, as well as filet mignon, chicken and shrimp skewers. There’s also an array of appetizers and side dishes.

Aside from the grilled meats, there’s also a wide array of traditional Argentinian appetizers and side dishes. Argentinian cuisine is uniquely South American, but also has strong influences of European cuisine, especially Spanish and Italian. This creates unique flavors with an emphasis on meat dishes.

If the food alone wasn’t enough to attract patrons, the weekend live music, lakeside view and laidback atmosphere helps to keep the customers coming back.

“It’s always a really nice spot just to hang out,” said Nicole Elizabeth as she sat under the shady tiki bar on the back patio. “Everyone’s always very nice and welcoming.”

First-time guests Syd and Arlene Zudekoff enjoyed their experience eating out on the patio. The couple had been to the location about 15 years ago, before the space became Asador Patagonia. “We knew that the view was nice, and we knew this area was nice, and we’re looking for different places to go,” Syd explained.

They enjoyed the experience and plan to return with others. “It’s a lovely local restaurant,” Arlene said.

The Ayalas have worked hard to cultivate the relaxing environment. Ayala even recalled with amusement a time when they first opened the restaurant, and their two boys, Matias and Lorenzo, were still very young.

“Lorenzo grew up in the restaurant, and sometimes they’d go to the table and take bread, and take the food for the customers, also,” she said. “They’d run through all the restaurant.”

Fortunately, the customers were amused, too.

Like the children, Asador Patagonia knows how to have fun. With a capacity for 250 people, guests can reserve the space for weddings, birthday parties and more. That being said, patrons wishing to use the space cannot bring in outside catering and must use the restaurant’s food and drinks only.

Karaoke lovers can also show up and show off on weekend nights. Customers are encouraged to reserve seats beforehand, however, as these tend to be the busiest times at Asador Patagonia.

Asador Patagonia is located at 675 Royal Palm Beach Blvd. It is open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, noon to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 9 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, visit www.asadorpatagoniawpb.com or call (561) 651-9477.

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Authentic Flavors Make Tender Rack Of Lamb Stand Out At Raja Indian Cuisine & Bar

Authentic Flavors Make Tender Rack Of Lamb Stand Out At Raja Indian Cuisine & Bar

Raja Indian Cuisine & Bar, located in the original Wellington Mall, brings a slice of India to central Palm Beach County. The ambiance is as authentic as the food, and it captures the culture in every way — from the music and décor to the fragrances and smiles that cheerfully greet patrons.

Raja offers many traditional dishes, but a standout signature dish is the tender and flavorful rack of lamb.

“It is a fusion between Indian, French and American cuisine,” Executive Chef Vijeesh Parayil said. “Rack of lamb is really a standard for any great restaurant. Ours is made with sour cream, cream cheese, mace, nutmeg, green cardamom, fennel powder and Indian garam masala.”

While rack of lamb may sound familiar, the flavors, plating and sides are truly unique. The colorful plate arrives with sauteed vegetables, like carrots and broccoli, flavor-filled rice and kitchen made naan bread. It is truly a complete, upscale dish for only $26.

“The lamb chops are a team effort. We have a couple of chefs working together on it — one cooks it in the clay oven, another chef pre-plates, and I do the spices. Once we cook it up, I slice the rack and finish the presentation,” Parayil said. “It’s all such a good flavor once you put in all the spice.”

One reason why the food is layered in beautiful flavors is because the team at Raja take authenticity very seriously, down to the smallest details.

“We make all the spices here. We get the whole ingredients, and we grind the spices here in the kitchen. Spices lose their flavor over time, especially after being ground. By keeping everything fresh, we get more flavor,” Parayil said.

There are a number of popular curry dishes on the menu, along with several vegan options. Tandoor options include tandoori chicken, jumbo shrimp and more. A variety of Naan breads are available to complement your meal.

Parayil has been the head chef at Raja since the restaurant opened two years ago. Originally from the southern Indian state of Kerala, he finds particular joy in developing seafood dishes inspired by his roots while utilizing local ingredients.

“We have a lot of seafood [in Kerala]. In-house, we serve a chef’s special, which is a yellowtail snapper. Its flavors are from where I am from,” Parayil explained. “We cook it in the clay oven, and we add some shrimp curry on top of the fish.”

The yellowtail snapper is also well priced at $25 a plate. Keeping prices reasonable while finding ways to offer a unique variety has always been important at Raja. Combine this with putting customers as a priority, and it explains how the restaurant has managed to thrive despite difficult circumstances.

“We didn’t close when the pandemic hit. We just kept open for to-go orders,” Parayil said. “Now, we are open for in-person dining, but some people want to come in and some people don’t. Many call, and they want to pick up their order — or they go through another service like Uber Eats or Delivery Dudes.”

Parayil said that Raja works with all food delivery options — anything to keep their customers comfortable and content.

“We used to be very busy on Saturdays and Sundays, because of our buffet, so we are happy to finally be able to bring it back,” he said.

On April 10, the lunch buffet returned to the weekends from noon to 3 p.m. for $16 per person. The buffet includes two different salads, an appetizer, rice, three different vegetable options, two proteins and two desserts, plus fountain drinks and bread already included, to make for a serious meal.

Look to Raja to find even a signature dessert you won’t find anywhere else.

“My signature dessert is called gulab jamun pie, and no one ever made it here in America until I did. It’s a fusion, and my personal innovation,” Parayil said. “There is a mango-caramel sauce and jackfruit ice cream on top.”

Gulab jamun are small, round, milk-based donuts that have been soaked in a sweet syrup.

To find Raja, look for the sign with the Golden “R.” Once inside, you’ll find an array of authentic treasures — dishes spanning many regions, draped in layers of bold flavors, and a dining atmosphere that’s warm and welcoming. Raja’s owners — the husband-and-wife team of Sunil Kayalchirayil and Sheeba Krishnankutty — call it “modern Indian.”

Raja Indian Cuisine is open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. The restaurant is closed on Mondays. The buffet is now available on Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 3 p.m. Visit Raja Indian Cuisine & Bar on Facebook to see current specials.

Raja Indian Cuisine & Bar is located in the original Wellington Mall at 12794 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Suite 20. The restaurant has direct access through both the mall interior and from the back parking lot. For more information, or to see the menu, visit www.rajawellington.com or call (561) 318-5383.

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Looking For The Perfect Cheeseburger? Try The Ford’s Garage Signature Burger

Looking For The Perfect Cheeseburger? Try The Ford’s Garage Signature Burger

What do you get if you pair an upscale burger joint with nostalgic Americana? Ford’s Garage, of course. The Wellington location of this unique Florida chain has been making burger fans happy since opening in 2019 at the Mall at Wellington Green.

Ford’s Garage prides itself on cultivating a classic American atmosphere through Ford memorabilia and savory comfort foods. All burgers at Ford’s Garage are fresh-pattied and built with gourmet toppings, creating what the chain calls “Ultimate Burger Experience,” or “UBE” for short.

Nothing says “classic” quite like a juicy bacon cheeseburger. The Ford’s Signature Burger is a half-pound grilled Black Angus patty, topped with aged sharp cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon, a bourbon barbecue sauce, lettuce, tomato and red onion on a toasted brioche bun — a simple, yet perfectly crafted “UBE.”

“What separates us from all the other burger companies out there are our half-pound Black Angus burgers, made fresh, never frozen,” co-owner Keith Ledsome said. “With our aged sharp cheddar cheese and applewood smoked bacon, along with the bourbon barbecue sauce, we are able to incorporate all of these different flavors. This really accommodates the palate and makes our Ford’s Signature Burger our best-selling burger.”

If that does not sound like the perfect burger experience to you, not to worry. The menu features more than a dozen other burger creations made from half-pound grilled Black Angus patties, from the Mushroom Swiss to the Black-N-Bleu, as well as some smaller burger creations as well.

The well-rounded menu also features salads, such as the Ford’s Chop Shop and the Grilled Chicken Cobb, and an array of comfort foods, like Beer Battered Fish N’ Chips and Hand Battered Chicken Tenders.

“It’s not just the craft beer and burgers,” Ledsome said. “We have something for everyone’s palate, including gluten-free options and our phenomenal salads. Our gluten-free Chicken Henry is another one of most popular items, and we also have our meatloaf. It’s called Mama Ford’s Homemade Meatloaf.”

Co-owner Kathleen Gannon-Ledsome, Keith’s wife, also has her favorite.

“My favorite thing on the menu is the Chili Garlic Salmon,” Gannon-Ledsome said. “The flavoring of it is amazing, and the salmon quality we get is unprecedented when compared with any other restaurant in Wellington.”

That popular dish features eight ounces of Norwegian Atlantic grilled salmon with a sweet chili garlic sauce and your choice of sides.

“Most people assume we are only a burger place, but we have a wide range on the menu, with great salads, perhaps the best in Wellington, and amazing other dishes,” Gannon-Ledsome added.

The appetizers also turn heads with their presentation. For example, the signature appetizer is the Giant Funnel Tower of Jumbo Piston Onion Rings, which is served on a real piston, tying into the 1920s service station vibe. Edsel’s Hot Pretzels and the Famous Firestone Shrimp are also popular on the appetizer menu.

Don’t forget to save some room! Desserts include throw-back style milkshakes, funnel cake fries, a brownie sundae and key lime pie.

The Ford’s Garage concept began in 2012 in Fort Myers, an area known as the vacation destination for Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone. The flagship restaurant opened just down the street from Henry Ford’s famous winter residence.

The restaurant’s décor is a step back in time to the dawn of the automobile age, feeding Wellington restaurant goers’ appetites by way of a Prohibition-era filling station. The scene is set from the moment you open the door at the entrance with its gas pump handles, flanked by two retro gas pumps.

Ford’s Garage continues this nostalgic feel with its throwback pieces of Americana. Several restored Ford Model Ts fill the 6,000-square-foot space for guests to admire as they enjoy a meal.

The main bar has a Model T hanging as a centerpiece, complete with a working horn and “smoke” that spews from the back. There’s plenty to enjoy at the bar, particularly if you are a beer lover. Craft beer is part of the restaurant’s flair. There’s a selection of 150 beers in all, in homage to the Ford F-150.

“We also have a variety of specialty drinks, such as the Lincoln Punch, which features Mount Gay Rum, as well as the Model Tea and the Ford’s Old Fashioned,” Ledsome said.

Happy hour is between 2 and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, with $3 premium well drinks and $2 off drinks and drafts. Also featured on the drink menu are several frozen drinks, such as spiked lemonades and margaritas.

The Wellington restaurant, which opened in June 2019, was the chain’s first southeast Florida location. There are 13 other Florida locations, with two outside Florida in Michigan and Indiana.

Ford’s Garage offers both indoor and outdoor dining, along with online ordering and curbside pickup. Home delivery can be arranged through Delivery Dudes.

“We also do catering,” Gannon-Ledsome said. “For example, we just did the catering for the World Championship Equestrian Triathlon, a benefit for the Boys & Girls Club.”

Ford’s Garage is located inside the Mall at Wellington Green at 10300 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Suite 122, near the Patio Verde entrance. Hours are Sundays, noon to 7 p.m.; Monday through Thursday, noon to 9 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday, noon to 9:30 p.m. For more information, call (561) 805-3673 or visit www.fordsgarageusa.com.

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Southern-Style Shrimp And Grits A Must-Try New Dish At DeVine Bistro

Southern-Style Shrimp And Grits A Must-Try New Dish At DeVine Bistro

Over the past 12 years, DeVine Bistro has become a popular Wellington dining spot for taste-tempting food served with style in a comfortable atmosphere.

Evenings at DeVine Bistro begin at 5 p.m. with drink specials, and the nightly menu features a homemade soup of the day, delectable appetizers to choose from, a wide selection of salads and sandwiches, a bevy of favorite entrées, and some surprising daily specials — all served with a varied array of distinctive side dishes.

New to chef and restaurateur David Palmateer’s menu is a delicious southern specialty, Shrimp and Grits. It is his very own DeVine Bistro twist on the traditional, down-home dish.

The new entrée first debuted on the specialty board, but soon after was moved to the regular menu due to its growing popularity.

“I ‘discovered’ a Georgia take on the dish during a family trip to Savannah,” Palmateer explained. “My son said, ‘Dad you’ve got to make this.’ So, I made it at home for the family with my own special twists, and the family decision was that it had to become a special [at the bistro].”

For the dish, Palmateer selects from the best of the freshest Florida Gulf Coast shrimp. He seasons the shrimp in his own unique way, and then he expertly sears them to perfection.

The dish also uses applewood bacon and Palmateer’s uniquely developed take on grits. Instead of the typical creamy potage-type of grit presentation, he makes crispy grits. “They are creamy on the inside, with cheddar cheese chunks, and like a crusty cake on the outside,” he explained.

Somewhat resembling the look of a crab cake, these delights are served amid the shrimp, lovingly touched with a cream-based mornay sauce seasoned with New Orleans-styled spices, including jalapeño and scallions, for just the right level of delicious comfort.

Comments from diners have been very positive, Palmateer said, and his wife Sara Palmateer added that the dish proved to be a huge success.

“It became immediately popular,” she said. “So much so, that customers were disappointed when they came in and it wasn’t on the specials board that night. We just redid the menu and put it on there, so now it is available every night.”

The Palmateers opened DeVine Bistro 12 years ago after David found success as a chef with two other notable and well-received restaurants, Café Chardonnay in Palm Beach Gardens and Off the Vine Bistro near PGA Blvd. While he is always on duty running the kitchen, Sara can be found handling everything else, from administration to dessert, at this classic American bistro located in front of the Mall at Wellington Green.

Wellington residents since 2006, the couple made the village their home after they got to know and love the community when their young daughter, Ashley, came to frequent autism therapy sessions in Wellington. They moved here to be closer to the sessions and to raise the family in the community.

Over the past decade, the bistro has grown more and more famous among residents, local celebrities and equestrians, in and out of season, for specializing in what the Palmateers like to call “comfort food.” With a menu that features delicious takes on shrimp, fish, chicken, pork and beef, everything is prepared from scratch, using the freshest ingredients they can find. Diners can taste the difference in their ingredients, the Palmateers stressed.

Impacted by the COVID-19 shutdowns, the Palmateers took the opportunity to undergo extensive remodeling. “Today, the restaurant has high-back booths, so people sit in a more private and friendly space,” Sara said. “It has a more elegant treatment with tablecloths, but it is still our famous comfort food.”

Those popular pastries and desserts Sara makes are all prepared in-house as well.

“I grew up in the country, in upstate New York, and my mother was a stay-at-home mom who taught me the importance of homemade desserts,” she said.

They are all based on the comfort food theme. Banana cream pie with chocolate graham cracker crust and fresh banana chunks is a favorite. “I also make chocolate cream pies, crumb cakes and things like that — all made right here with all the freshest ingredients,” she said.

David began his craft early, as he grew up in a restaurant family. There he developed his love for good food and his ethic of long hours and hard work. His family had restaurants in upstate New York and eventually in North Palm Beach.

DeVine Bistro is located at 2465 State Road 7, Suite 300, in Wellington. It is open daily, except Monday, for dinner from 5 p.m. to close. For more information, call (561) 204-5432 or visit www.devinebistro.com.

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Herb-Crusted Lamb A Customer Favorite At Kaluz Restaurant

Herb-Crusted Lamb A Customer Favorite At Kaluz Restaurant

Kaluz Restaurant is a dining gem, brimming with upscale modern/new American cuisine with a unique ambiance all its own. Smooth circular lighting and relaxingly lit water fountains in the open concept dining room make for an elegant yet laid back atmosphere. Now in its third year, it’s all about new twists on traditional comfort foods.

“We provide excellently executed staples,” Kaluz Executive Chef Ian Carpenter said. “There’s a lot of places you can get a burger and fries, or a piece of fish, but we like to rise to the occasion and do that a couple steps above.”

“We’re definitely a meat and potatoes kind of crowd,” General Manager Patrick O’Keefe added.

One of those featured meat and potatoes dishes is the incredibly popular herb-crusted lamb rack with parmesan mashed potatoes and roasted heirloom carrots topped with a balsamic port wine reduction.

“It’s a feature, once a week,” Carpenter explained. “It’s a cooler night food, almost a comfort food, but in an elevated way.”

Ingredients include finely chopped herbs, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.

“I encrust the lamb rack, sear it to render outside fat and slow-roast it in the oven. Most people prefer it mid-rare to medium, but whatever you like. If you want it well done or want it rare, we can do that as well,” Carpenter said.

It’s pleasantly plated with creamy parmesan mashed potatoes.

“They’re a little rustic. You get a little bit of chunks in there. We don’t whip them to puree. They’re well-seasoned, so you can get all the flavors of the parmesan,” he said.

The heirloom carrots are slow roasted with garlic, shallots, salt and pepper.

“You can pair it with a cabernet or a nice blend, even a pinot. It’s definitely a nice meal to have when it’s 60 degrees out, along with a nice bottle of wine,” Carpenter said.

The restaurant’s ambiance complements what they call well-crafted food ranging from $16 to $46, and a wide variety of drinks to enhance the dining experience.

“We have 15 hand-crafted cocktails. You pick a spirit and try to do something fun and new with it. A lot of classics revisited,” O’Keefe said. “The mojitos and the mules are quite popular, as is the Kaluz signature martini and anything with vodka. Tito’s is a go to. As is a large wine selection, and a number of beers.”

The neighborhood hotspot is a staple for residents and equestrians during season. Flanked by hotels brings many out-of-town visitors. Happy hour is Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m., offering a wide selection of little bites and flatbreads all under $10. The main menu is equally diverse.

“The diversity of our menu is one of our standouts, being accessible to any pocketbook. If you want to come in and have two iced teas and a couple of burgers, you can get out of here for two people under $50. Or if you want a bottle of wine and two entrées, you can come in and knock yourself out,” O’Keefe said.

The Wellington location opened nearly three years ago, with the original now in its eighth year in Fort Lauderdale with a more seafood-driven menu, being on the Intracoastal Waterway. A third location is in the works to open within a year in Plantation.

Carpenter, who started with the company’s Fort Lauderdale location, calls himself very adaptable, coming from the Chicago restaurant scene and first getting his experience in Wisconsin Dells, where he was born and raised. He began working seasonally in the tourist town when he was 13 years old. Now, 23 years later, and a long résumé of work under many talented people, he said it’s that experience and hard work that drives him to make the Wellington location a happy one.

“I try two to three recipes a week at home and think of how I can develop it into something here. How do I execute this on a large-scale setting? That’s what challenges me. That’s what motivates me,” Carpenter explained. “I like using the best ingredients to create the best food I can that someone’s going to enjoy. That’s what I take joy out of.”

The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Carryout is available, ordering through the Kaluz web site, as is delivery through Delivery Dudes. Indoor and outdoor seating is available following all COVID-19 guidelines.

Kaluz is located in front of the Mall at Wellington Green just off Forest Hill Blvd. at 2025 Wellington Green Drive. Call (561) 784-5500 for reservations or visit www.kaluzrestaurant.com for more information.

 

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Village Music Café Pairs Culture And Entertainment With Great Food And Drink

When it comes to music and business, timing is everything. For Steve and Donna Willey, owners of Village Music Café, that’s what makes both of them, and their business, tick.
“I just love this spot. It’s the perfect size and right at the entrance to the mall,” Donna Willey said.
This hometown treasure, now located near Barnes & Noble and Walgreens in the Shoppes at Wellington Green, first opened its doors in 2012 near Fresh Market. A few years later, not only did they need more room, but they also wanted to try a new concept, adding a café space to what was previously just a music store.
Located just one shopping plaza over, the new venue has brought a world of change, hitting a high note with both regulars and newcomers each week.
“We really see ourselves as a cultural center that brings the community together,” Donna said.
It’s a cultural center surrounded by the arts. It includes not only music lessons, live music, instrument sales and monthly exhibits by local artists, but it’s also all tied together with artisanal food. That food, along with various craft beers and wine, harmoniously set the stage for all things art.
“The stage is an integral part of what we wanted to do,” Donna explained. “Once we had that, we decided we needed to open this up to the community and bring in local artists. And that has become an extremely popular phenomenon. People love to come here and see local musicians play — and we get great talent here.”
That talent runs the gamut from jazz to rock, comedians to open mic nights, art exhibits to mixers, from the accomplished to those just starting out.
“During the day, it’s a hangout for parents while their kids are taking lessons. They grab a gourmet coffee or a snack while waiting. The kids will have a snack when they come out. In the evening, it turns into a place where the community hangs out,” Donna said.
A hangout filled with dark-toned bistro tables with high-backed seating along the back wall. Each month, paintings by local artists rotate, hanging throughout the space. A dim and relaxed atmosphere with sparkling tea lights dotting the tables create a calm ambiance, all while visitors nosh on some tasty eats.
For starters, there’s the Charcuterie Board for $20. It’s loaded with mixed meats and cheeses, including prosciutto, salami, serrano ham and capicola. Cheeses include white cheddar, port wine and smoked gouda. Marinated mozzarella balls, olives, artichokes, grapes and bread fill it all in. “We had a lot of input from different chefs that we worked with,” Donna said.
Other starters include hummus, ceviche, as well as fresh guacamole paired with homemade spinach tortilla chips for $8.
“Thursday through Saturday, we have a grill outside. On those nights, we have the full menu that includes New York strip steaks, pork chops, tacos and all kinds of fun stuff. The menu is constantly evolving,” Donna added.
From a gourmet cheeseburger, made with eight ounces of sirloin on a brioche bun served with homemade steak fries for $10, to grilled or blackened salmon with broccoli, for $13.
“It’s really having something nice to eat and a glass of wine to enjoy with the food,” Donna explained. “It’s not a place people come to drink, but people come to eat and listen to the music. It’s one of the reasons we get high-level musicians playing here, because they’re not background music. They are the focus.”
A large focus is also put on the selection of available craft beers and wines — from California wines to South American, New Zealand and more. “I had a vision of what I wanted. It came from all my time in Europe,” Donna said.
It’s in Europe that the couple originally met in 1987. Steve, a U.S. Army veteran, was stationed in Germany where Donna was in graduate school. Both had musical backgrounds. A year later, Steve was sent back to Texas, while Donna finished her studies. The two were separated, and they went on to marry others and start families.
But 23 years later, Donna got a message from Steve. At a time, both had been divorced. “He found me on Facebook, and we were reunited,” she recalled.
In that nearly quarter of a century, there was still music involved between the two. A love song that had been lost, still waiting to be heard.
“Steve had written a song called, ‘Donna Sweet Donna.’ An army buddy did a water painting and calligraphy with the lyrics. But I moved after our breakup and never got it. He assumed I just wasn’t interested anymore. He played it over the phone for me. So, that was the beginning,” Donna said.
Steve headed back to Germany to be with her. The two eventually moved to Boston, where they’re both originally from. “Boston is too cold, and Steve’s parents were down in Florida,” Donna explained.
Steve soon sold his music store in the northeast, and the search for a Florida location began, bringing them to Wellington.
It seems to have been written in the stars when they made that decision, as now they and others shine bright on the stage they created for a community of all generations and backgrounds, sharing a love of music accompanied by great food and drink.
Village Music Café is located at 10410 W. Forest Hill Blvd. near Walgreens in the Shoppes at Wellington Green. For additional information, call (561) 798-5334 or visit www.villagemusicwellington.com. Check online for weekly events and menu specials. Table reservations are recommended.

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It’s All About Quality Ingredients And Great Presentation At India Grill & Bar Imported Spices

It’s All About Quality Ingredients And Great Presentation At India Grill & Bar

Imported Spices

For nearly a decade, India Grill & Bar has been serving authentic old and modern Indian cuisine in Royal Palm Beach. The restaurant has developed a loyal following of customers from all over the region, happily welcoming new patrons as well.

The restaurant is designed to look like an Indian palace with hues of gold and a circular 400-gallon saltwater fish aquarium as the centerpiece. That ambiance, mixed with fresh, imported spices, is what restaurant manager and owner Soye Thomas said it’s all about.

“I’m from the land of spices! That’s one primary thing for us. Much of it we import straight from India. We never use powder,” he said. “We get the cardamom and organic cumin. We have dried cumin straight from India. We roast and grind all our spices right here. The flavor and aroma is so fresh and real. It’s amazing. Next, we focus on getting the best produce. Once we have that, the rest is easy.”

One of his favorite spices — cloves. “It has a spark to it,” he said. “A burst of flavor.”

The daily lunch buffet is a great way to get a taste of it all.

For starters, try the Sambar lentil soup, Tandoori chicken and vegetable samosa.

Buffet entrees include chicken tikka masala, lamb roganjosh, chicken biryani on the bone and daal makhni. For sweets, you can enjoy galab jamun and Punjabi phirni. The entire buffet is offered daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., all for $9.95.

A wide selection of light and fluffy naan is extremely popular with guests. Flavors include cheese naan that’s mildly spiced, there’s also garlic with cilantro and Kashmiri naan, which is mildly sweet with cashew and pine nuts, coconut, saffron, honey and raisins.

When it comes to dinner entrees, there are a number of Tandoori specialties to choose from — all made to order. The most popular is the mixed grill platter. It’s a combination of tandoori grilled shrimp, seasoned lamb chops and tandoori grilled chicken tikka. “We use an all-charcoal grill,” Thomas explained. “It sears all the juices inside.”

Several vegetarian and vegan-friendly options are available on the menu, as are gluten-free choices.

The restaurant also offers a banquet hall for up to 200 people. It includes a separate entrance, private bar and reception area, suited for private parties or corporate events.

There’s also a tasting room for as many as 20 people, also privately set with its own bar. In addition to the restaurant as home base, Thomas also runs a nationwide catering company known as Madras Catering & Event Production.

“We are very big into catering weddings and large events. We’ve done events at the Breakers, Boca Resort, Fontainebleau and Four Seasons,” Thomas said.

It’s at Four Seasons, JW Marriott and Hyatt where Thomas worked in management after coming to the United States from India in 1997. He used that experience and added his own twist, with now 17 years of catering under his belt. He has catered an average of 40 weddings a year, often with 300 people or more per event.

“For me, it’s very personal,” Thomas said. “The food, presentation, food culture, spices, quality of ingredients. I get to know the clients.”

It’s that same personal touch that makes India Grill & Bar a success. “Guests come here and say, ‘Wow! The food is amazing.’ But they don’t realize the chefs cooking for those weddings are the same ones cooking for them,” he said. “There are no shortcuts, anywhere.”

There are also no shortcuts when it comes to a great Sunday brunch. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., a culinary experience is topped with bottomless mimosas.

“We bring a grill to the table, a live station, dosa of all varieties,” Thomas said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for people to come and taste everything.”

For Sunday brunch, adults are $16.95, while children are $6.95.

The cuisine for both the restaurant and catering covers all areas of India with four chefs, each from a different region. “We have a south Indian chef, a north Indian chef, one from Bombay for the snacks and one from the east side to cover all the seafood,” Thomas explained.

A huge selection fills the bar, including exotic cocktails, a variety of spirits, and a large beer and wine menu.

New plans are also on the horizon for Sunday evenings, which are big in the equestrian community. Coming soon will be dinner specials, a lounge and live DJ until midnight.

Meantime, Thomas and his crew are always looking for new infusions by going on tours to India, checking out new flavors. It’s that deep passion for people and love of food and flavor that keeps them going, to the delight of many happy customers and their taste buds.

The restaurant is open seven days a week with lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 4 to 10 p.m. Delivery is available through DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats and Delivery Dudes.

India Grill & Bar is located in the Royal Plaza at 650 Royal Palm Beach Blvd. at the northeast corner of Southern Blvd. For additional information, visit www.indiagrillandbar.com or call (561) 249-7168. Learn more about the catering end of the business at www.madrascatering.com.

 

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New Piatto Bravo Restaurant Offers A Creative Taste Of Italy Authentic Italian

New Piatto Bravo Restaurant Offers A Creative Taste Of Italy

Authentic Italian

Piatto Bravo is a love story blended with a deep passion for traditional Italian food. Visions of creative and authentic dishes have come to life at the new restaurant, located on State Road 7 in the Village Green Center near Trader Joe’s.

“The food is authentic Italian, so our menu goes all the way from Northern Italy to Southern Italy. We cover the entire Italian concept,” owner Dominic Dipino explained.

Dipino and his wife, Chef Maria Amelia Baez, have a background steeped in Italian cuisine. While they grew up in the Dominican Republic, their grandparents, who hail from Italy, instilled upon them a passion for cooking and baking, with inspiration also coming from their parents. “We share the same passion, and we take it personally,” Dipino said.

Using only the freshest authentic Italian ingredients, Baez said it allows her to make innovative creations with hearty flavors.

“It’s very homey. When I thought of the menu, I thought of comfort food — what I liked having with my family at home. The Bolognese sauce, cheese ravioli. I love using Parmesan,” said Baez, who puts her own spin on the cheeses she uses. “I make my own blend of cheese. We grate different cheeses and make the blend here.”

The state-of-the-art wood-burning oven is the centerpiece of it all. Direct from Modena, Italy, it cooks pizzas evenly on a rotating floor at 600 degrees.

“We only work with wood. The perfect temperature is 600 for pizza. It cooks the pizza one hundred percent,” Dipino said. “We have pizzas with dates, goat cheese, caramelized onions.”

The pizzas come with a wide range of ingredients, from the traditional to the unique, like the Argentina pizza, which is topped with pomodoro, mozzarella, skirt steak and chimichurri aioli. Prices range from $10 to $16.

Guests can also create their own, first choosing pizza or calzone, then adding from an array of toppings that include seven cheeses to five different meats, including imported Italian sausage and pepperoni, topped with a choice of aioli. “We make our dough, our sauces and the aioli that go on top,” Baez explained. “We also have cauliflower pizza. A lot of people order it without cheese, just sauce and vegetables. People think it’s not going to be crispy, but it’s thin and crispy, made like every other pizza.”

Baez chose a number of gluten-free and vegan items for the menu, including zucchini pasta, with four dishes to choose from, like pomodoro zucchini noodles, to pesto, Bolognese and gamberoni.

All pasta is made fresh in batches each day on site. One of the most popular items on the menu is the signature dish Rigatoni di Maria, made with truffled cream, shrimp and goat cheese mousse with mozzarella au gratin. Dishes range from $10 to $18.

“We create at home,” Baez said. “We create new things. We live by it. When we’re not working here, we’re cooking at home with our kids.”

The restaurant space has been completely remodeled with a rustic yet modern flair, nestled with outdoor seating next to a courtyard complete with an oversized chess board and a tranquil waterfall. The trattoria seats 97, while the outdoor patio offers eight additional tables.

The couple, along with their developer partners, opened six restaurants where they grew up in the Dominican Republic. When considering opening in the United States, their partners had ties to Wellington’s equestrian community and suggested they expand here. “It was so warm and homey,” Baez said of the community.

The couple met early in life, while in middle school. Baez is no stranger to South Florida. She studied culinary arts and food service management at Johnson & Wales University in North Miami.

Baez then headed back to the Dominican Republic, where she worked under renowned Chef Ciro Casola, who guided her to the Culinary Institute Lenotre in Paris, where she received her specialty degrees in pastries and hors d’oeuvres. From there, she became sous chef at the Mandarin Oriental in Miami. During it all, she and Dipino rekindled their relationship and love of all things Italian. “We make magic here,” Dipino said.

The wide-ranging menu also offers risotto and paninis, as well as a number of desserts, including chocolate souffle and Toblerone mousse. A kids’ menu is also offered, as well as a daily lunch menu. It includes a large variety of homemade pasta, pizza and more offered Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. There’s also a full bar — cucumber martinis and espresso martinis are two of the specialties. Daily happy hour is from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. A full coffee bar offers cappuccino, espresso and more to top off your meal.

Hard work has paid off for Dipino and Baez, who are excited about how well the new restaurant has been embraced by the community.

“Sometimes, I can’t believe it. Believe in your dreams, work very hard. Never stop, even when things get tough,” Baez said. “This wasn’t easy. It took a lot of work and sacrifice. I have the best partner and team. We put a lot on hold. We do it out of love.”

The restaurant is open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Delivery is available through Uber Eats, Delivery Dudes and DoorDash.

Piatto Bravo is located at 2803 S. State Road 7 in Wellington. For more information, call (561) 841-6983 or visit www.piattobravo.com.

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Oh La La Catering Creates Taste-Tempting Works Of Art In A Wide Range Of Styles International Cuisine

Oh La La Catering Creates Taste-Tempting Works Of Art In A Wide Range Of Styles International Cuisine

Love Peruvian, Spanish or French cuisine? Chef Ely Walter of Oh La La Catering specializes in it all, creating individual pieces of art with every savory bite.

Her creations come from the heart, poured from her soul — all with impeccable attention to detail.

“For me, cooking is a part of my life. It gives me energy and peace,” said Ely, whose husband Gerard Walter is always by her side with support and admiration.

“She is so humble, but she is a star in the kitchen!” he exclaimed.

Married for 17 years, the couple came to the United States in 2009, first living in Broward County, later settling in Wellington. They were attracted to the quaintness of the community, and also drawn by Ely’s affinity for horses. She grew up with many in her native Peru, alongside her mother, who is also an amazing cook.

Ely studied culinary arts for three years, along with communications and philosophy. She loved to cook for her friends and host dinner parties. At the age of 25, she set off for Madrid, Spain. It’s there she learned the art of making paella, known around the world as the national dish of Spain.

“The mothers and grandmothers of friends showed me how to make paella,” Ely recalled. “I was so lucky.”

Madrid is also where she met Gerard, who originally hails from France. She made quite an impression on him with her culinary skills. “She has a sense, an influence,” he said. “I saw what she did in the kitchen. It was precise and well presented.”

Her unique flair comes from constant experimentation. “It’s a never-ending art form,” Ely explained. “There’s always something to learn.”

In 2008, Ely entered her first cooking contest, taking second place in an international culinary challenge, coming in behind the top chef in England, who also was rated in the top 10 worldwide. This brought a realization of the gift Ely truly had. Gerard encouraged her to expand and spread her gift for infusing flavors for others to enjoy. “This is what encouraged her to move forward with her passion,” he said.

In all, Ely worked for 12 years in Spain and 10 in France before moving to the United States to create a new life. She has a number of regular clients in the French communities in Miami, mostly through word of mouth. She’s working to get that same word out around the Wellington area, where she already has garnered several awards, taking Best Dessert and Best Display at the popular Flavors of Wellington event in 2014.

“It’s traditional, sophisticated. A combination of all types of cuisine, from Nikkei. which is Peruvian food using Japanese techniques, to French, Peruvian and Criolla.” Ely said of her wide-ranging cuisine style.

One of her many specialties is creating banquet-sized paellas. She prepares gourmet meals in your home, or on location, whether it be a party or a private dinner. Need a caterer on a yacht? She has done it. She also pairs wine, as well as formal place settings.

Ely’s artistry is apparent. Each food item is like a sculpture with an immense attention to detail. “I love the traditional plates,” she explained. “Sophisticated presentation is very important.”

Some of her popular presentations are Tortilla de Patatas con Chorizo, a potato omelet with chorizo; Camarones al Ajillo con Mayonesa a la Mostaza de Dijon, which are garlic shrimp with mayonnaise and Dijon mustard; and Ensalada de Papas, a savory potato salad made with red potatoes, red onion, celery, red and green peppers, spicy brown mustard, along with vinaigrette, topped with an array of cherry tomatoes, all presented as a slice.

Ely also prepares a barbecue recipe with spareribs called Costillas de Cerdo en Salsa BBQ. She makes many traditional French items, like various types of quiche, beef Bourguignon, as well as salmon dishes and much more.

Her desserts are just as breathtaking, and the flavors are bold. Her Copas de Tiramisu is made with strong coffee, cognac or brandy.

“It’s the best gift, seeing people enjoying my food,” Ely said. “I want it to be a flavor explosion with each bite.”

Also offered are full buffets, cocktails, amuse-bouche, table-served menus, cooking classes and Spanish tapas, along with her signature paella dish.

Trailing back to her family roots, it was her mother who pushed her to cook, and Ely has kept her catering business in the family. She calls her husband her engine, who keeps her going. While her mother has since passed, her 92-year-old father lives with Ely, Gerard and their 16-year-old son, Yannick, a junior at Wellington High School.

That love among all in this family is apparent in their admiration for each other, as well as the heart and soul that spills into Ely’s inspirations. “I feel so emotional,” she said. “My hope is for people to be happy.”

That is what ignites her passion for all her unique and tantalizing creations, with hopes of an exceptional culinary experience for all who partake.

To contact Oh La La Catering, call (954) 707-2266 or (561) 309-9270, or e-mail ohlalacatering@att.net.

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Raja Indian Cuisine Brings A Flavorful Taste Of The Subcontinent To Wellington Modern Indian

Raja Indian Cuisine Brings A Flavorful Taste Of The Subcontinent To Wellington Modern Indian

A passion for flavor with a modern twist on traditional Indian food is the promise of the newly opened Raja Indian Cuisine & Bar, located inside the original Wellington Mall.

Look for the sign with the Golden “R.” Once inside, you’ll find an array of authentic treasures — dishes spanning many regions, draped in layers of bold flavors, and a dining atmosphere that’s warm and welcoming.

“We want you to have an experience,” General Manager Debarghya Bhattacharjee said.

Raja Indian Cuisine celebrated its grand opening on Oct. 30 with a luncheon buffet that was quite impressive.

“Our food is from all over India. We’re not focusing on any one regional cuisine. We have traditional Indian, such as northern India, as well as Indo-Chinese,” Bhattacharjee explained.

Raja’s owners — the husband-and-wife duo of Sunil Kayalchirayil and Sheeba Krishnankutty —call it “modern Indian.”

“Our dishes are not too common — street food, Indo-Chinese,” said Kayalchirayil, who studied the culinary arts in India.

The food is fresh, flavorful and bright with colors. The lunch buffet is a great way to sample a number of types of hot and cold foods. From appetizers, hot soup and salads, to entrees and desserts. The buffet is offered daily, Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at $12 for adults and $9.99 for children. The buffet stays open until 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and costs $14.99 for adults and $10.99 for children.

Buffet items vary daily, but two vegan and two vegetarian dishes are always options, such as Balti vegetables and mixed vegetable Poriyal, as well as three types of salads.

Flavors are spice-filled, from cumin to coriander, cinnamon, cloves and more. A variety of chutneys line the beginning of the table to suit a wide range of tastes.

“These are the accompaniments,” Bhattacharjee explained. “They go with almost all the foods.”

The accompaniments include mint, onion dip, mango and lemon pickle, which tends to be a guest favorite. “We make it fresh, in-house. It’s a long process,” Bhattacharjee said.

Appetizers include the popular samosas, a stuffed, crispy phyllo dough.

“Special items, like the goat Malabar, is from southern India. We use dry-roasted coconut. The Chicken Tikka Masala always has cream in there,” Bhattacharjee described.

Buffet entrees include items such as Tandoori Chicken and Shrimp Biryani.

Desserts are also offered, one hot and one cold, including the Galub Jamun, which are donuts in a warm sugar syrup.

Diners also have a wide-ranging a la carte menu to choose from as well. All dishes are labeled clearly by spice levels of medium or hot, as well as vegan and gluten free.

For starters, there’s the Saffron Pen Salad with radish, onion, fresh fruit, shaved carrots and cucumbers, and saffron mermaldu dressing for $6. The Lamb Shalgam soup is made with spiced ground lamb, poached egg and vegetable broth for $7. Raja’s Mix Sampler includes chicken wings, chicken kabob, paneer tikka and samosa veg pakora. It goes for $12 to get a taste of all those items.

As for entrees, there are a number of curry dishes to several vegan options, with its own section on the menu. Tandoor options include tandoori chicken, jumbo shrimp and more. A variety of Naan breads are available, from butter to garlic, Rosemary olive oil, to ginger honey — all make a savory addition.

The owners’ favorite is one of the chef specials, the Yellow Snapper. It’s cooked in a tandoor topped with curried coconut shrimp. The specials run between $20 and $25.

For dessert, the fig and honey kulfi is made with fig basil sour coulis and raspberry butter, while the mango cheesecake comes with vanilla bean ice cream and red wine rose syrup reduction.

Hot beverages range from black coffee to masala chai, and more, to top off your meal. The dining room is welcoming with deep brown wood booths and tables with gold accents on the seating.

“When you first walk in, this restaurant had its own history and light fixtures. We tried to keep it that way, but we added blue paint, which gives you an energetic vibe,” Bhattacharjee said. “When you walk in, it’s a feeling of family with a large dining table, that gives a homey feeling. In the corner, there’s a relaxing waiting area with small couches and a tea table. We have some elephant pieces from Rajasthan, also pieces from the Buddhist religion.”

Raja also features private party rooms for up to 50 people and meeting spaces for up to 12. The outdoor patio bar is getting a makeover to provide a whole other atmosphere with lots of seating. Dogs are even invited to join their families, with their own special menu to order from.

Also in the works is live entertainment from cultural dancers to sitar music. The owners plan to soon work with the Winter Equestrian Festival and expand the flavors available there.

Meanwhile, guests from Wellington and the surrounding communities are invited to visit the new restaurant for a celebration of Indian food, music and culture.

Look for the golden “R” inside the circle at the far back parking lot. It will greet you for an authentic experience with many happy and tasty returns.

Raja takes reservations, offers carryout and is working with Delivery Dudes and Grub Hub. See their Facebook page for daily specials and upcoming entertainment.

Raja Indian Cuisine & Bar is located in the original Wellington Mall at 12794 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Suite 20, with direct access through the back parking lot. For more information, call (561) 318-5383 or visit www.rajawellington.com.

 

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