Category Archives: Wellington Table – Signature Dish

New Premier Café Wants To Change The Way You Think About Coffee

New Premier Café Wants To Change The Way You Think About Coffee

Dr. Mariaclara Bago and Dr. Vincent Apicella have added another extension to their Premier Family Health facility in the Wellington Reserve complex on State Road 7. The married doctors want community members to slow down their daily routines for enough time to sit inside the new Premier Café to experience a cup of its specialty coffee.

The doctors believe the new venture neatly pairs with all the health services that Premier Family Health has provided for more than a decade.

“I don’t want to understate our coffee, because it’s important to know that we have the finest coffee bean around. We’re partnered with Panther Coffee. They’re one of the highest-ranked roasters in the entire country,” Apicella said. “They’re down in Miami, and they’re the best at what they do, and we like to partner with the best.”

Apicella said the most important aspect of the café isn’t so much regarding what he and Bago are introducing, but their reason why.

“It’s about your experience in this place,” he said. “You have to drive outside the boundaries of Wellington to find a specialty coffee house with this type of an experience. We built this for the community. We built this for everyone to enjoy.”

Bago said that Premier Café is focused on what goes into every mug and on every plate.

“Everybody loves a good cup of coffee. In today’s day and age, the vision of having coffee while reading a newspaper and spending time with loved ones has long been replaced with the ‘world runs on coffee’ adage,” Bago said. “Easily enough, we find it very difficult to find a good cup of coffee that is outside of the massively overproduced, processed version of [major chains and franchises]. They are great business models, but it’s not the coffee that comes first.”

The shop is offering classic coffee drinks using the Panther Coffee bean to provide the experience. There is a nitro cold brew that is featured at the shop providing a fresh take on a coffee beverage that has become popular. From croissants to paninis and salads, the café aesthetic is all there, but special care has been taken in the ingredients used in these products.

“We built it for the experience of what healthy coffee and what healthy eating is about,” Bago explained.

The café itself was inspired by the doctors’ personal experiences in Europe, particularly Spain.

“On any given day during our stay, we would meet up with friends and family over coffee, reminisce over good times and the beautiful mountain views,” Bago said. “It is this feeling of peace and relaxation that Dr. Apicella and I brought into our relationship six years ago, when we made it a point to enjoy at least 16 minutes of peace and quiet, coffee time, amidst our daily schedule of kids, patients and business.”

The café is also something that will serve as an educational tool at Premier Family Health.

“Some of the roles that I’m going to be playing are with regard to being able to provide educational forums, from which we can provide cooking classes and a lecture series on what it is to select healthy food options,” Bago said, explaining some of the differences between over-processed coffee and organic fair trade coffee.

The newly added staff who will provide service at the café will offer the same quality service that can be found at other areas of the business.

“We built a very experienced team, and to us, it’s no different than all the team members at Premier,” Apicella said. “They understand that their role is to not just serve someone coffee. No one here just has a defined role and job task. Their role is to make sure that you have a better sense of well-being from the time that you walked in, to the time that you leave.”

Apicella and Bago entered the coffee business viewing it as a community project to offer something different. “It’s really in alignment with every other project I’ve done,” Apicella said. “It’s there to serve the community. It’s there to provide an extraordinary sense of well-being, and it’s there to create jobs and support small business.”

The café is a tool that the doctors want to use to support the local community, local businesses and to offer something that you will not find at another café. “That’s why this place is here. It’s a little bit of a refuge for people to get away from stress,” Apicella said. “We have to-go cups, but we don’t want people to use them. I want people to come here and take 10 minutes out of your day. Let the rest of the world stop, enjoy the best cup of specialty coffee around and just relax.”

Premier Café is located at 1037 State Road 7, Suite 118, in Wellington. For more information, call (561) 657-8019 or visit www.cafeatpremier.com.

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Johnson’s Custom Cakes Works With Couples To Create Amazing Wedding Cakes

Johnson’s Custom Cakes Works With Couples To Create Amazing Wedding Cakes

The culinary finale of a great wedding is an amazing wedding cake, and Johnson’s Custom Cakes in Wellington has been creating delectable masterpieces for the past nine years.

Owner Jennifer Johnson has spent most of the last decade making a name for herself not only in South Florida, but nationwide through appearances on the Food Network and at cake competition events. She might have flair as a competitive cake artist, but her business is her livelihood, and that is focused on building relationships with her clients.

Johnson calls soon-to-be-married couples her “cake babies,” because that’s usually where her business begins when serving a new client.

“The brides and grooms, they come to me for their wedding cake, and we call them Johnson’s cake babies,” she explained. “Often, the bride and groom come back for their bridal shower, and then we get to do their baby showers and their christenings and their baby’s first birthdays.”

When a couple visits Johnson for her cake artistry, she stresses the need to book her services with ample time before the wedding date.

“It’s really beneficial to book your wedding cake at least three to six months in advance,” Johnson said. “Some of the brides are coming in two weeks or one week before their wedding, and unfortunately, sometimes we cannot do it because we are a custom shop, so quality comes before quantity.”

An important part of the process is identifying the spirit of the wedding for each client.

“We draw the sketch in front of them, and then they make the changes,” Johnson said. “Their input on their wedding cake is really, really important. We want to make sure that it’s all about them. When it comes to design, taste, everything, we really listen to them. It comes from our soul, but it also comes from their minds.”

Johnson credits her staff for being equally as important to the process of giving a client their special dessert, for weddings and all other events.

“They’re all artists,” Johnson said of her staff. “We’re able to feel the bride out on the colors. All the other aspects of the wedding are important for the cake as well, like the floral, the color palette, the décor, what the bride is wearing, her dress pattern, if her dress is ivory or white. All those things affect the cake in some way, because we want to make sure the cake matches the décor.”

After Johnson and her team have seen all the wedding colors, they will often ask to see samples of the décor items. Then Johnson and her team show the client their own ideas, and it all comes together for a personal, custom cake.

“It’s teamwork with that aspect of it, because we want to create what the vision is,” Johnson said. “If they don’t have a vision, we try to give them some pointers or try to create it with them.”

Some of the most creative cake ideas may come from competition shows on television, but Johnson also gets interesting requests for personal wedding cakes.

“We’ve done crazy things,” Johnson said. “One bride and groom, they wanted what they eat for breakfast on their wedding cake, which was like a spiced cake with peanut butter and pecans and fresh fruit. They wanted something that is memorable to them.”

At Johnson’s Custom Cakes, Johnson and her staff have the skill to add many different features to a cake that you may not see every day.

“We’re artists, so we actually do a lot of modeling and super sculpting, so we can actually form the bride and groom on top of the cake,” she said. “If they’re a firefighter or a nurse or a doctor, we can customize their cake to what they do. We’ve put their pets on the cake.”

Johnson cherishes the long-term relationships she maintains with her clients once the first cake has been served.

“The most important thing is I get to watch their families grow, and that’s humbling to me how their babies are six, seven, eight years old, and they come in and they sketch their own birthday cakes,” Johnson said. “The children come in, and they look forward to seeing me every year.”

Johnson’s passion for her work is as strong as her passion as a cake artist, and she welcomes the challenges that she faces as a business owner.

“I’ve learned that business is about growth, and you learn from your mistakes,” Johnson said. “You always try to do something different. We are not just a bakery that does one thing. We push ourselves to try to explore all different mediums. We want to give you what you want. So, if it takes us until 5 o’clock in the morning to get something right, we’re going to make sure we do it.”

Johnson’s Custom Cakes is located in the Kobosko’s Crossing shopping plaza at 9148 Forest Hill Blvd. in Wellington. For more information, call (561) 422-0303 or visit www.johnsonscustomcakes.com.

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Unique Home-Style Dishes And More At Aroma Indian Cuisine

Unique Home-Style Dishes And More At Aroma Indian Cuisine

Aroma Indian Cuisine opened in February of this year on Village Blvd. in West Palm Beach. Executive Chef Clarence “Rence” Xavier is the creative mind and part owner of the new restaurant. His goal is to serve Indian cuisine that is also influenced by his culinary experience throughout his career as a professional chef.

Managing the new restaurant is a chance for Xavier to introduce something original to every plate that graces the tables at Aroma, and it is a chance for him to learn the flavors that people in the area enjoy.

“If you look at my menu, you’ll see many home-style dishes, and a lot of things that we are offering you may not see in any other restaurants here,” Xavier said. “Most of these things, which I introduced, normally we cook only at home. That is the difference between us and other places around the area.”

Xavier grinds and roasts all the spices that are used in the dishes on the Aroma menu. “I personally don’t like to use any of the powdered spices,” he said. “So, that makes a lot of difference. When you eat the food, then you understand that.”

This doesn’t mean that classic Indian dishes won’t show up on the Aroma menu.

“We do offer the popular dishes,” Xavier said. “At the same time, we have our specialty. That is the home style. That is what I believe will allow our business to stand out.”

A signature treat that Xavier offers under appetizers on the menu is a popular dish found in homes of people from Gujarat, a state in western India. It is called Farali Pattice — made of an outer layer of coconut, and mashed potatoes seasoned with fresh coriander, roasted cashew, cumin and black salt, with a dash of lime juice.

“This particular appetizer, it is made in people’s homes,” he said. “It has a bit of a spice and aroma. It has a very nutty flavor [from] the fresh coriander and the coconut. It has a light sweetness with a sour and tangy finish.”

The finished product comes out light and crispy because of the flash-fry technique Xavier uses with an Indian wok called a karahi.

“With a very high temperature oil, you just put it in and take it out,” Xavier said. “It won’t stay in the oil for too much time. It’s a matter of seconds.”

Unique items such as Farali Pattice are the center of the home-style dishes that Xavier likes to make for his customers. He is conscious of the ingredients and the cooking processes he uses to make the food at Aroma.

“Personally, I don’t like to use the deep-fryer,” Xavier said. “The first thing is that it is unhealthy, and normally the people don’t want it in the oil.”

The black salt that helps season the Farali Pattice is important to the flavor of the dish. “It is a rock salt, which gives it the pungent taste,” Xavier said.

Each fritter is accompanied with a fresh-made garlic chutney, which is seasoned with roasted cumin and coriander. “I borrowed the recipe from a customer who came here the second week when we opened this place,” Xavier said.

Xavier had been using his own kind of chutney, but this customer was from Gujarat and offered a recipe that is commonly paired with Farali Pattice.

Xavier began a catering business in 2008, implementing a fusion of different cultural cuisines in his food, adding Thai, Italian, Greek and Mexican elements to Indian cuisine.

Xavier was greatly influenced by his grandmother, who seemed to know that he would find a way in this world as a professional chef.

“She can make anything,” Xavier said. “She used to tell my mother, ‘You know what? You don’t need to worry about him. He’s going to become a cook. Don’t worry.’ She said that when I was young.”

Xavier became a professional chef at the age of 24. He went to school in India and earned a degree in food and hotel management. He worked in the kitchen for a large hotel chain in Southeast Asia. Then, he took his skills to Royal Caribbean, the Miami-based cruise line. From there he moved to Fairfield, Conn., where he managed several restaurants that were either Indian or Thai cuisine.

He embarked on his current endeavor to lead the kitchen at Aroma last year when his friends and co-owners of the restaurant presented him with the idea and the opportunity.

Xavier believes in combining the passion he feels for food into the food he serves every day.

“I love what I do, and I enjoy every moment, even when I cook,” Xavier said. “It is very important to have a happy heart, especially when you are cooking for somebody else. Whatever you do, there is an energy. If you have a happy heart, then that energy is going to the food as well.”

Aroma Indian Cuisine is located at 771 Village Blvd., Suite 110-111, in West Palm Beach. For more info., call (561) 619-6437 or visit www.aromawestpalmbeach.com.

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Wellington Trace Tavern Features A Unique, Fusion-Style Menu

Wellington Trace Tavern Features  A Unique, Fusion-Style Menu

The new Wellington Trace Tavern is now open in the original Wellington Mall. In the kitchen is Executive Chef Jeff Cantor, who brings with him a wealth of culinary experience gathered from every region of the United States. His well-rounded career has cemented a signature, fusion style of cuisine.

–“One of the things that is very important to me is to be original. I don’t want to do what others are doing,” Cantor said. “When you walk into Wellington Trace Tavern, I want you to feel as though, before you even sit down at the table, you’re already going to know that it’s going to be a great meal.”

Wellington Trace Tavern is co-owned by Alex Gerasimov and Tetyana Kuzmina. Cantor was searching for a position that would allow him to continue making his food creations, and after his first meeting with the owners, he knew almost immediately that he would have creative control over the new tavern’s menu items.

“What I plan on bringing to Wellington Trace Tavern, first of all, is food with integrity,” Cantor said. “I don’t do boxed, ready-to-go, canned, whatever-it-might-be type of things. I try to do as much as I can from a fresh state. I try to use local ingredients when we can. We get some of our produce right here from a local farmer, and we always try to use fresh, not frozen, seafood whenever possible. The same thing goes for our other ingredients on the menu.”

Cantor said there will be many signature dishes to be enjoyed on the menu, but he presented one that he believes will certainly cement itself as a must-have item, the Admiral Surf and Turf.

The dish will feature four jumbo shrimp, paired with a daily vegetable. “It will have your choice of potato. However, I recommend one of my signature items, which is called a sweet potato soufflé,” Cantor said. “A lot of people say, ‘Oh, I don’t like sweet potatoes.’ I bring them out a little taste of it, and that’s what they order. It doesn’t taste like a sweet potato out of the skin. This tastes like a true soufflé-style, a little sweeter, entrée side accompaniment than you would typically see somewhere else.”

Don’t forget the turf.

“It’s paired with another one of my signature items, which is a Dr. Pepper, ketchup marinated filet mignon,” Cantor explained. “It’s something that I’ve been serving for years. I picked it up from a chef in South Carolina.”

Keeping true to his originality, Cantor continues to tweak the recipe, but he has a balance for it that can’t be described any better than by the head chef himself.

“I’ve described that dish as yin and yang, and the reason I say [that] is quite simple: it’s complementary opposites with a little bit of each still there,” Cantor said. “You’re going to have that sweet savoriness of the marinated filet mignon, and then you’re going to have the grilled jumbo shrimp, which is something that goes together very well. It’s different than you would find elsewhere.”

Cantor moved to Wellington at the beginning of this year with his wife and daughter, Kathy and Annika. Kathy had a job opportunity in Palm Beach County, while his daughter is a chef in her own right. “It’s kind of a family thing right now,” he said.

Cantor grew up in New Hampshire. Being New England raised, seafood is a must eat. When he is back home, he can’t leave without having a classic feast.

“Being not too far from the coast, fresh seafood was always available, and I’ve come up with a great passion and love for seafood,” Cantor said. “I’m getting clam chowder, and I’m getting right out of the sea, probably two hours ago, lobster that was caught on the boat and parked out back.”

Cantor is happy with the quality of food that has begun to appear and then disappear on patron’s plates at Wellington Trace Tavern.

“We’re consistently putting good food on the tables, and, most importantly, we are doing it in a way that others in the area are not,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll find 15 of the items on our menu any place else.”

While they are there, Cantor visits his guests to make sure they are having the dining experience he envisions for the tavern.

“My motto for the food is ‘great food, great wine, great friends, best of times,’” Cantor said. “I like that to be what people think of after they’ve had a meal here.”

Wellington Trace Tavern is located in the original Wellington Mall at 12794 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Suite 20. The restaurant is open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. most nights. For more information, call (561) 469-1109 or visit www.wttavern.com.

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Enjoy Food That Tastes Great And Is Good For You At Giovanni’s Healthy Café

Enjoy Food That Tastes Great And Is Good For You At Giovanni’s Healthy Café

Lori and John Giattino came to South Florida to make their dreams come true, and this summer, they will invite the community to enjoy the food they love when Giovanni’s Healthy Café opens on State Road 7.

Located near the Publix store on the west side of SR 7, just south of Southern Blvd., the Giattinos are completely renovating the space and expect to open this month. Their goal is to have people walk through the door and feel like they have entered the outdoor patio of an Italian café.

“Our food is served healthy, with no extra oils. It’s a healthier cuisine by its nature because everything is fresh,” John said. “Most of our dishes really focus on vegetables and what is good for you.”

The Giattinos will get their produce fresh daily and their meats fresh every other day, kept fresh in the walk-in refrigerator. They have found local vendors to partner with for their daily fresh items and are focusing on alternative ingredients for the foods that they make.

One dish that patrons will have the opportunity to enjoy with a cup of coffee is their signature quiche created by head chef and longtime friend Steve Mlinarz.

The quiche is made with two types of cheese — gruyere and cheddar — and also includes diced ham and asparagus.

“We will be making these fresh,” John said. “This does not have a regular quiche crust; it has an almond flour crust.”

Lori noted that it is “not as high in carbs, as you find in white flour or processed flours.”

In particular, the dish is great for people with diabetes.

“I’m a diabetic, so white flour is not good for me. It spikes my blood sugar,” John explained. “However, the almond flour, coconut flours, they don’t do that to me. So, I lean more toward a low carbohydrate diet.”

The husband-and-wife team are always looking for ways to satisfy palates in a healthier way.

“If you’re going to eat, one, it should taste really good; and two, it should be good for you,” John said. “It shouldn’t add to your weight or your cholesterol. It should just make you feel better.”

Lori has always had a passion to own her own restaurant, and Giovanni’s Healthy Café is a dream come true.

“I absolutely love food. I love to bake. I love to cook, and one of my favorite things at home was the look on my family’s face when I would prepare a meal,” Lori said. “I wanted to bring that here, where our recipes are so delicious. I want people to smile when they look at the plate.”

Along with Mlinarz, Lori is the artisan behind many of the recipes that people will enjoy at Giovanni’s.

“It has taken us about a year and a half to go through so many recipes,” John said. “Everything that we’re going to serve here, we eat at home.”

Another staple that will be found at Giovanni’s are Lori’s crafted smoothies. John’s favorite is her Oreo smoothie, which lets him enjoy the closest thing to an Oreo cookie without compromising his diet.

“I have created many recipes involving a yogurt base, so that is much healthier than adding an ice cream base,” Lori said. “Everything will include fresh fruit. Instead of chocolate chips, it will be carob chips.”

The kitchen will not serve any fried foods. “It’s either baked, broiled or grilled,” John said. “Some of the recipes originate from my grandparents’ recipes.”

With a heritage that is both Irish and Italian, where did Giovanni come from?

“My dad was John, and I’m John, obviously, and I found out after my father passed away, when I found his birth certificate, that he was actually baptized Giovanni Giattino, and I never knew that. He always went by John.”

Giovanni’s Healthy Café honors this piece of family history. Central to the Giattino family is the idea that food brings people together.

Originally from New York, the Giattinos have lived in the western communities since 2014. They both left their day jobs to pursue their dream of sharing Lori’s food creations with a community — and John’s dream to have a place where he could invite the entire community over to sit down, laugh and eat.

“Everyone I’ve met has been very nice. It’s quite a different culture from living in New York City or the surrounding areas,” John said. “The people here are a lot more relaxed. They’ll take the time to talk to you.”

With renovations nearly complete, the Giattinos are putting the final touches on Giovanni’s Healthy Café.

“We’re open 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed on Sunday,” John said. “However, there will be several Sundays during the year that we will open up, such as Father’s Day and Mother’s Day.”

Giovanni’s Healthy Café is located at 125 State Road 7, Suite 107, in Royal Palm Beach. For more information, visit www.giovannishealthycafe.com or search “Giovanni’s Healthy Café” on Facebook.

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Los Agaves Offers Great Food In An Authentic Mexican Atmosphere

Los Agaves Offers Great Food In An Authentic Mexican Atmosphere

Los Agaves Mexican Restaurant is part of a family of three authentic Mexican restaurants in Palm Beach County: Los Agaves in Royal Palm Beach, Casa Tequila Mexican Cuisine in Wellington and Rancho Chico Mexican Restaurant in Jupiter.

Fernando Morales Chapman, the managing partner, said the signature dish at Los Agaves is El Patron. There are three options with El Patron, either New York skirt steak, grilled carne asada or pollo asada, along with rice and beans, and shrimp al mojo de ajo. The most popular version is with the steak.

“It’s our main dish. It’s the favorite one of everyone,” Chapman said. “It’s skirt steak with rice and beans, we get grilled shrimp with garlic, and we put onions and peppers underneath as a bed. People love it because it’s really good.”

The menu features traditional Mexican food. Salvador Gutierrez, the restaurant’s owner, created El Patron, and it has been a favorite ever since, Chapman added.

The dishes are 13 inches at the restaurant, which offers generous portions. Fajitas — there are multiple types: chicken, steak, shrimp, vegetarian and chicken with steak — are also restaurant favorites.

Los Agaves, and its sister restaurants, are all family owned and operated. Gutierrez is Chapman’s brother-in-law. Several cousins work at Los Agaves, and Chapman’s wife is another manager. Overall, there are 10 restaurants in the company chain.

The extensive menu features appetizers such as ceviche de camaron, taquitos, quesadillas, queso dip and more, and those can be followed with warm, hearty soups such as the sopa de mariscos (seafood soup) and tortilla soup.

Salads, with shrimp, chicken, tacos and more, offer a lighter meal. Seafood dishes, such as the seafood chimichanga, camarones con tocino and arroz con camarones, offer a fresh taste of the sea. Fajitas and meals such as the asada y mas, carnitas mixtas, brochetas and pork carnitas, offer hearty meals to satisfy any appetite. Burritos are available with chicken, vegetables, beef, picadillo or pork, as are chicken and meat dishes like the chicken mole, tacos al carbon, chile verde and pollo chipotle.

The menu offers authentic recipes that have been adapted from spicy Mexican flavors to be gentler to the American palate, Chapman said. However, all of the items on the menu can be customized to any level of desired spiciness. The only truly spicy item is the camarones a la diabla, shrimp that is sautéed in butter with mushrooms and garlic in a spicy sauce.

When looking around Los Agaves, the colorful, friendly atmosphere jumps out as unique and interesting. There are colorful, hand-carved and painted wooden chairs made in Mexico in the middle of the restaurant.  “There’s no chair that is alike,” Chapman said. “They’re all different.”

On a trip to Mexico, the owners found a street artist with hand-painted and hand-carved chairs. They placed a large order for the chairs with the Mexican artist to outfit many of the restaurants and brought them to the U.S. to decorate and add a colorful flair. “Most of our decoration is from Mexico,” Chapman said.

The wooden booths, the barstools, the chairs, the chandeliers and other accessories are brought in from Mexico. “We try to incorporate all of the real colors,” he said.

The restaurant is decorated like a traditional indoor/outdoor restaurant, with seating, a cantina and separate areas.

“The idea was to recreate that, with a United States version,” Chapman said. “It has an authentic look. It really makes you feel like you’re in Mexico. If you’ve ever been to Mexico, those little family-owned hometown restaurants, they’ll be something like this.”

The biggest difference, Chapman said, is that everything is under a roof, and, of course, there’s air conditioning.

A full bar, modeled like a Mexican cantina, offers a wide variety of drinks to accompany any of Los Agaves’ meals, or for gatherings of friends. The house margarita and classic margaritas are well-known, Chapman said.

The best way to end a meal at Los Agaves, he added, is with one of the sweet desserts such as fried ice cream, traditional flan, churros, and, Chapman’s favorite, the cheesecake chimichanga — creamy cheesecake put into a special tortilla, rolled and deep fried, then cut in the middle and topped with whipped cream. There are often requests for large flan orders for parties and special events.

Los Agaves also features a children’s menu. The restaurant offers takeout, private parties and reservations for up to 10 people. There’s a happy hour every day from 3 to 7 p.m. Every Thursday night, there’s live music.

Los Agaves Mexican Restaurant is located in the Village Royale shopping plaza at 1179 Royal Palm Beach Blvd. The restaurant is open every day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, call (561) 798-1229 or visit www.losagavesfl.com.

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Gandhi’s Restaurant Lovingly Serves Up Authentic Indian Cuisine

Gandhi’s Restaurant Lovingly  Serves Up Authentic Indian Cuisine

Gandhi’s is a truly authentic Indian dining experience. Guests are initially greeted by a large image of Gandhi in the cozy living room-style waiting area. The area is furnished with items from the owners’ personal collection, chosen and placed so as to encourage conversation and education. All of the items, in addition to being beautiful and intricate, have a story.

Owners Raj and Sherry Vohra, who have been married for 17 years, opened Gandhi’s in January 2016 and have been presenting this unique dining experience ever since.

They’ve lived in Wellington for the last 12 years, Raj said, and wanted to share authentic Indian culture and food with the community. He and his wife were proud to name the restaurant in honor of the Indian independence leader.

“Because Gandhi was the father of the nation, and because the decision to open a restaurant was probably one of the most important decisions we will ever make in our entire life, we wanted something to really represent what we were trying to do here, which was create a sense of community, teach about a culture of love, which is India, and expose people to the amazing qualities of Indian food,” Sherry said, adding that Gandhi’s is a place “where food and people matter.”

The restaurant offers three unique dining experiences: a white glove service dining experience, a sit-down street food experience, and a grab-and-go tea and dessert cafe. During the day, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. traditional Indian street food is available. At night, the casual dining area reverts to fine dining, where bright red turbans are worn, and food is served on traditional Indian ware.

“Nothing comes out of a can, container or jar here,” Sherry said. “We make our own cheese here. We make our own yogurt here, so everything is in its highest probiotic state. Everything here is gluten free, except for our breads. If people call ahead, we can certainly back out ingredients that we need to.”

Sherry sees herself as the host of the experience and often greets guests with homemade Mango Lassi or Sweet Lassi, or a mug of chai tea to warm the soul.

She also enjoys introducing guests to the intricacies of Indian cooking.

“I make every cup of chai. That’s my way of loving all of our guests when they come in,” Sherry said. “If you went into a home in India, the very first thing we do is offer water and then a beautiful cup of tea with a traditional Indian biscuit.”

That concept carries over to every dish on the menu. “It’s made with love. Every dish, by the time it goes to the place, for each and every guest who eats with us, is perfection,” Sherry said.

When you tell someone that something is spicy, Sherry explained, people often think about heat, rather than flavor. With Indian food, it is full of layers of flavors that infuse the food all the way through. The spices are layered into each component of the cooking process, she said.

“With Indian food, it’s very complicated and complex, because the infusion and the mixology of the sauces is what gives the food that very unique quality and taste,” Sherry said. “Right now, with the reintroduction of Indian food back into society, it’s about teaching people that Indian food doesn’t need a gallon of water to douse the heat, but it is full of beautiful, wonderful, amazing flavors like cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, goda masala, cloves, and it’s infused during the whole process.”

In her restaurant’s food, Sherry sees the colors of India.

“You have all of these colors which are uniquely India,” she said. “When you go there, you’ll see the colors of Diwali and Holi, and like Easter eggs, it’s a beautiful infusion of color. Indian food is a lot like that.”

The recipes at Gandhi’s are authentic North Indian. Whole spices go into each and every dish to bring out the flavors, Raj explained. The process for each dish takes time.

One of the most popular, or signature, dishes is the Chicken Tikka Masala. It comes with homemade naan bread and rice.

“Some people think it is just Chicken Tikka Masala, but it’s actually a mixology for the sauce, just like you would a cocktail,” Sherry said. “You have to have just the right amount to really bring out the tradition and flavor of the dish.”

The Chicken Tikka Masala has a tomato-based sauce that’s homemade, Raj said. Approximately 10 different spices go into the sauce, which takes almost three hours to prepare before it is served over the chicken breast.

All of the spices mix and mingle to create a unique flavor. “There’s the whole flavor of India in one meal,” Raj said.

The rest of the menu features a variety of North Indian traditional meals, as well as curries, lamb chops and shrimp, scallops, goat curry, vegetarian dishes such as Muttar Mushroom, Baingan Bharta, Paneer Tikka Marsala and more. Desserts include homemade ice creams, such as Chef’s Kesar Badam Kulfi, Pistachio Kulfi, Gulab Jamun and more.

And, as you leave the restaurant, Gandhi is leaving with you.

“This is a destination restaurant. It’s the closest you’re going to get to India without going to India,” Sherry said.

Gandhi’s food is available for dine-in, catering, take-out, private VIP dinners, delivery through Delivery Dudes, as well as offering the restaurant for special occasions. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with hours from noon to 9:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Gandhi’s is located at 4075 S. State Road 7, Suite F2B, in the Marketplace at Wycliffe. For more information, call (561) 328-9441 or visit www.mygandhis.com.

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Cask + Shaker Brings A Unique Gastropub Experience To Wellington

Cask + Shaker Brings A Unique Gastropub Experience To Wellington

Cask + Shaker Craft Bar and Kitchen recently opened at the Mall at Wellington Green adjacent to the new Paragon Wellington 10 movie theater.

With a separate exterior mall entrance, and lounge seating in the lobby of Paragon, Cask + Shaker offers classic cocktails, local brews and gastropub entrées.

Executive Chef Chuck Gittleman is particularly proud of the restaurant’s signature dish, Steak Frites.

“It’s my favorite dish. I’m from Miami, so it has a lot of Latin flavors to it,” he explained. “The cut of meat itself is a really tender cut. It’s one of my favorite steaks, the hanger steak. It reminds me of my youth.”

The entrée consists of a marinated mojo hanger steak, sautéed broccolini (a relative of asparagus that looks like a long broccoli spear) and yucca fries.

“The yucca itself is Latin, so it lends itself to the mojo flavoring of the steak, and it’s a little spin on French fries,” Gittleman said.

Historically, the hanger cut wasn’t particularly popular with the public, he said, and was considered the butcher’s cut to take home.

“It’s a really tender piece of meat. It’s pretty popular right now. A lot of places use it. It’s kind of a trend. We mojo marinate it, which is a lime juice, orange juice, chili, garlic, onions, cilantro and cumin. And then just salt and pepper, and it’s grilled,” Gittleman said.

The steak is topped with a chimichurri sauce, which has parsley, cilantro, lime, garlic, oregano, olive oil and hot chili.

Steak Frites is one of the popular dishes at Cask + Shaker, which has a gastropub atmosphere. Because there are farms nearby, Gittleman is focusing on getting more “farm to table” foods.

The menu has comfort food items to share with friends, such as Honey Sriracha Firecracker Shrimp, Fried Manchego Cheese, Angry Fried Calamari, Bacon-Wrapped Brussels and Char-Grilled Chicken Wings, which are baked instead of fried. There are also cheese boards with creamy, flavorful cheeses, and salads, including the Rustic Root + Fruit, which includes artisan lettuces, roasted beets, gorgonzola cheese, spiced cashew, dates and an apple cider vinaigrette.

Sides range from Truffle Fries to Old School Mac & Cheese, featuring semolina pasta, gruyere cheese, cheddar cheese and bacon Dijon crumbs. Handheld items, be it the BBQ Brisket Burger, the New School Grilled Cheese or the Crab Cake Sliders, offer delicious and interesting flavor combinations. Meals such as the Steak Frites and Pulled Chipotle Chicken Tacos round out the menu.

Family-friendly, there’s also a children’s menu with mac and cheese, flatbread pizza, grilled cheese and chicken tenders. Along with the food menu, gluten-free options are available, and Cask + Shaker features 32 draught beers, cocktails, bottled beers, hand-crafted specialty cocktails, wine and a full line of non-alcoholic drinks.

General Manager Brooke Camposano explained that most of the beers on-tap are local, South Florida craft beers. “We worked with a mixologist and created 10 of our own hand-crafted cocktail drinks that we serve here,” she added.

The wine menu includes “Interesting Whites” and “Interesting Reds,” Camposano said.

“They’re not your average wines, like your pinot grigios and chardonnays. They’re a little bit different, so that people would actually take a look at them and hopefully try them. They’re a little more popular, but not everybody knows about them,” she said.

Some of the interesting wines include Red Blend, Ferrari Carano “Siena” from Sonoma County, Calif.; Malbec, TerrazasReserva from Argentina; and the Riesling, Chateau Ste. Michelle “Eroica” from Washington.

“We offer tastings for anything that you’d like to sample,” Camposano said.

Inside the theater, there are trays that hold Cask + Shaker’s to-go boxes perfectly, Camposano said, which allows customers to comfortably enjoy their meal, and drinks, while watching the movie of their choice.

Customers have many options for seating, including an indoor lounge, outside seating with heat lamps when it is chilly out, indoor booth seating, indoor table seating, bar seating, and, of course, in-movie seating.

The windows at the bar open, allowing guests to sit on either side of the bar and enjoy the convenience of an indoor-outdoor bar.

Cask + Shaker is currently open from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Food and drinks are available for takeout, eat-in (reservations are suggested), and to be brought into the theater and enjoyed during a movie.

Cask + Shaker is located at 10312 W. Forest Hill Blvd. on the second level of the Mall at Wellington Green. For more information, call (954) 320-7112 or visit www.facebook.com/caskandshaker.

 

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Pasquale’s Pizza Serves Up Authentic New York-Style Italian Cuisine

Pasquale’s Pizza Serves Up Authentic New York-Style Italian Cuisine

Story and Photos by Julie Unger

Pasquale’s Pizza, a family-owned restaurant, recently opened on the west side of State Road 7, between Forest Hill and Southern boulevards.

The local restaurant is part of a family-owned chain that also includes three locations in Broward County, said middle son Mike Marrone, who runs the restaurant with his brothers, Nick and George Jr.

“We started from humble beginnings,” Marrone said, “with my mom making the sandwiches, my dad making the pizzas and my brother and I growing up in a crib literally in the kitchen, which is kind of cool. This is all we know.”

Authentic New York-style pizza and Italian food is their specialty. It all started with Marrone’s father, George, naming the restaurant after his father, Pasquale. The family restaurant tradition is still going strong, with another location opening soon.

“My dad has been doing this since 1974. We use the same ingredients that my dad started with back then. We have had a tradition now of almost 40 years doing things the exact same way,” Marrone said.

Attention to detail and caring about the quality and experience is part of the family’s secret to success. The menu had only four things when they first started out. Now, there are salads, wings and more, including authentic zeppoles.

“At the end of the day, when you do things right, you serve quality, people are going to understand that and they’re going to get that,” Marrone said. “That’s why we’ve been successful for so many years. We haven’t been in business for more than 40 years because we got lucky. We have really good food, we care about our customers and we’re passionate about what we do.”

A visit to Pasquale’s wouldn’t be complete without ordering the Penne Alla Vodka; perfectly cooked penne pasta is mixed with a homemade vodka sauce, garnished and served.

“It’s a simple dish made with high-quality ingredients,” Marrone said. “The beauty of the dish is that there are a multitude of things that go into it, but you don’t taste one thing. It’s like a combination of everything to make a certain flavor that you’re looking for. Everyone loves our Penne Alla Vodka.”

The sauce is made with heavy cream, butter, basil, scallions, parsley and vodka, which gets cooked off during the preparation process. Black pepper and crushed red pepper are added, and then the dish is topped with grated Romano cheese.

Marrone said customers also can’t get enough of the pizza, wings and strombolis. Popular subs include the cold Super Sub with ham, salami, capicolla, pepper ham and provolone cheese, and the hot Leave It To Us Sub with salami, capicolla, pepper ham, grilled sweet peppers and melted provolone cheese.

“Those are two unique sandwiches to our restaurant using quality Boar’s Head cold cuts and the same great attention to detail that we’ve always had,” Marrone said. “That has been made in our family since 1974.”

At Pasquale’s, the meatball parmesan sub is actually made with meat slices, rather than round meatballs, which allows the sandwich to fold.

“It’s something neat and different that we do, and it lets the customer know they’re homemade,” he said. “Everything we make on the menu is from scratch. Everything we make is homemade.”

Other favorites include deep-fried calzones, which are a New York/New Jersey specialty, and the zeppoles, which are a northeast delicacy of fried dough with powdered sugar.

“They’re almost like funnel cake at a fair — light, soft, airy and with powdered sugar,” he said.

The Marrone brothers are working to bring the restaurant’s community-friendly atmosphere to the new Wellington/Royal Palm Beach location. They like to be active in the community, sponsoring local sports teams and participating in special events.

Last year, Pasquale’s was at the Wellington Chamber of Commerce’s Flavors of Wellington, where they won runner-up with the Penne Alla Vodka. “We served meatballs and Penne Alla Vodka. It was awesome,” Marrone said.

“Wellington reminds me a lot of Coral Springs,” he added. “A lot of young families, sports… it’s a growing area.”

They’ve already sponsored local sports teams and hosted  school fundraisers and other special events.

There’s a bar with outlets in case someone wants to enjoy a craft beer or a glass of wine, plenty of seating, freestyle soda machines and a community table for teams to come and hang out.

“All of these things are geared toward the trend of how fast, casual dining is going,” Marrone said, noting that Pasquale’s is family-friendly and not the traditional dark, quiet Italian restaurant. “All we want to do is make people happy. We want you to smile.”

Pasquale’s also offers takeout and delivery, and is open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Pasquale’s Pizza is located at 171 S. State Road 7 in Royal Palm Beach. For more information, call (561) 904-0707 or visit www.pasqualeandsons.com.

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Try The Spinach Eggs Benedict At Oak Bistro & Wine Bar Story and Photos by Julie Unger

Try The Spinach Eggs Benedict At Oak Bistro & Wine Bar Story and Photos by Julie Unger

Oak Bistro & Wine Bar has become known throughout the western communities for its weekend brunch specials, and if you stop by, be sure to order the Spinach Eggs Benedict.

Oak’s Spinach Eggs Benedict is special. The fresh brioche bun is the perfect bed, warm and cozy, for fresh-cooked spinach and expertly prepared poached eggs. Over the eggs is a generous serving of homemade hollandaise sauce.

The meal is a favorite for owners Lisa and Brian Jacobsen.

“It’s special because we only do it Saturday and Sunday, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., as part of our brunch. During season, from Jan. 9 through May 1, we are doing Monday Funday, so that will be brunch on Mondays as well,” Lisa said. “We make everything from scratch.”

Homemade, gluten-free home fries, tossed in rosemary, are added to the plate.

“That’s what makes them the best,” she said, noting that the entire dish can be prepared gluten-free as well.

Every few months, Oak Bistro changes its menu, Brian noted. The new menu for 2017 features several unique dishes and will be in effect until spring.

“And then we’ll change it again, when it will be geared toward lighter flavors. During the wintertime, it’s more hearty,” he said.

With each season’s menu change, the artwork on the walls, supplied by the Wellington Art Society, changes as well.

One of Brian’s favorite dishes is Oak’s Bacon Burger.

“The bacon burger is a creation I came up with,” he said. “The bacon is actually in the burger. We take a mix of ground beef and ground bacon and make that into patties. The bacon permeates throughout the whole burger. If you’re a true bacon lover, you can always add bacon on the top, you can add cheese, you can add a fried egg. You can really kick the burger up a notch or two. To have the bacon actually cooked in the burger is something that is very unique. Each bite that you’re getting is going to give you a nice bacon flavor.”

Another big draw would be the Bacon Wrapped Dates, which debuted on the menu shortly after Oak Bistro opened just over two years ago. They take dates, stuff them with goat cheese and wrap them in bacon, serving them with a balsamic glaze on the bottom.

“Once you take the sweetness of the date, the creaminess of the goat cheese and the smokiness of the bacon, it all combines so well together that it’s absolutely delicious,” Brian said.

Few places offer bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys during brunch like Oak Bistro does, even letting diners switch between the two. Brunch is a relaxed atmosphere where diners aren’t rushed. Reservations, however, are suggested.

Everything is made fresh to order. The menu features breakfast tacos, a build-your-own omelet, eggs Benedict, cinnamon French toast, and an egg, meat and cheese sandwich. Cappuccino, espresso, hot tea and coffee, as well as cold brewed coffee from Hollywood Brewing Co., is also offered. “It’s just a good time,” Brian said.

Regular menu items are also available during brunch, Lisa added, such as the popular Charcuterie & Cheese Board, the Puff Pastry Tart, Croque Monsieur and Soupe Du Jour.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming back our snowbirds and equestrian people,” Brian said. “Many small businesses close on Monday, or have very limited menus on Monday, so we wanted to create something that was fun and give people a place to go.”

During the off-season, Oak Bistro doesn’t serve brunch on Monday, but during equestrian season, it is a special treat, especially when many equestrians are off on Monday.

Happy hour is daily from 4 to 7 p.m., and every Thursday evening, there are wine bottle promotions. Limited quantities are available of a reserve wine list that is not listed on the menu. Oak Bistro has more than 25 craft beers by the bottle and four on draft. Draft samples are available. There are nightly entree specials, as well as American-style tapas; sharing is suggested and encouraged.

Oak Bistro & Wine Bar is located at 11051 Southern Blvd., Suite 210, in Royal Palm Beach. It is in the Southern Palm Crossing shopping plaza in between Stein Mart and Rack Room Shoes. For more information, call (561) 753-6217 or visit www.oakrpb.com.

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