Category Archives: Wellington Table – Signature Dish

A Unique Take On Indian Street Food

A Unique Take On Indian Street Food

Masala Mantra Indian Cuisine, which opened recently in Royal Palm Beach, is the latest venture by the owners of the popular Aroma Indian Cuisine in West Palm Beach. Masala Mantra brings a modern twist to the street foods of India.

Expanding the local culinary scene, a unique take on Indian street food has arrived in the western communities with the recent opening of Masala Mantra Indian Cuisine, a family-owned restaurant located in the Southern Palm Crossing shopping plaza.

The menu showcases the essence of Indian culinary artistry, fusing traditional flavors with innovative twists that redefine the street foods of India, creating a modern and dynamic dining experience.

Masala Mantra distinguishes itself through contemporary twists on traditional Indian flavors and dishes, and the creative story behind its design is conceptualized by Hridaan Patel, the young son of owners Purnima and Krunalbhai Patel.

Using the video game Minecraft, Hridaan helped create the restaurant’s unique ambiance, capturing the vibrancy of India’s streets with a playful, modern twist, and offering a dining experience that is as visually engaging as it is delicious.

Krunalbhai describes Masala Mantra as more than a restaurant.

“This is an immersive journey into the essence of Indian street food, re-envisioned through a contemporary lens,” he explained. “Each dish is crafted to narrate a story, blending tradition with innovation in a manner designed to surprise and delight our patrons and their palates.”

Masala Mantra’s unique ambiance sets the stage for a one-of-a-kind gastronomic adventure. Hridaan’s vision demonstrates how traditional elements can be creatively reinterpreted to blend with Krunalbhai and Purnima’s fresh and innovative perspective on Indian cuisine.

Dishes include entrée favorites such as jini dosa, biryani, chicken lollipops and stuffed mushrooms, and desserts like chocolate samosa.

“Every dish is rich in tradition yet infused with a contemporary twist that I believe will delight and surprise our guests,” Krunalbhai said. “It’s not just about dining; it’s about embarking on a flavorful journey that pays homage to India’s diverse and rich culinary heritage.”

Masala Mantra is the latest venture by the owners of Aroma Indian Cuisine in West Palm Beach. While Aroma focuses on traditional Indian dishes, Masala Mantra brings a modern twist to the street foods of India.

“We grew up savoring these delightful dishes in India, and we’re delighted to share our favorite timeless classics with everyone,” Krunalbhai said. “From popular Indian street food snacks like Basket Chaat and Lamb Khaldale, to the beloved classic dish Butter Chicken, our menu offers a variety of flavors to enjoy. To complete your dining experience, indulge in desserts like Walnut Halwa, and my personal favorite, Sizzling Brownie.”

The Patel family is excited to be bringing their vision of Indian cuisine to the diverse and growing western communities.

“My wife, Purnima, and I chose to open an Indian restaurant in the Royal Palm Beach area due to its pleasant neighborhood and strategic location, embodying the community atmosphere we wished to highlight,” Krunalbhai said.

A well-attending grand opening event was held in January, he added.

“We have been overwhelmed by the warm reception and enthusiasm from the community,” Krunalbhai said. “It has been a joy to see so many faces, new and familiar, embarking on this gastronomic journey with us. Our goal has always been to celebrate the spirit of Indian street food through a modern lens.”

A great time to explore this new dining option is on Mother’s Day, when Masala Mantra will be offering an exploration of Indian-inspired libations and culinary creations. Throughout the special day, all mothers can enjoy a complimentary cocktail with the purchase of any menu item to complement their experience.

From 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., guests can enjoy a Mother’s Day brunch including bottomless cocktails (complimentary for mothers) from brunch or lunch offerings, such as Egg Burji, Grilled Paneer Sandwich and Chocolate Dosa with Banana. You can also visit from 5 to 10 p.m. to indulge in timeliness Indian classics like Butter Chicken, Tikka Masala, a variety of naan flavors and more.

When visiting Masala Mantra, you will be able to immerse yourself in the rich flavors of the cuisine while savoring expertly crafted cocktails. Discover the perfect pairing of food and drink from a variety of signature cocktails ($13) including: Masala Guava, a chili-infused Tito’s vodka with triple sec, guava and lime; Mango Margarita, a chili-influenced tequila with mango puree and lime; and Kalakhatta Mojito, an Indian version of a classic cocktail with gin, blackberry, black salt and mint.

Restaurant hours are Sunday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 5 to 10 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 5 to 10:30 p.m. Masala Mantra is also available for private events.

Masala Mantra Indian Cuisine is located at 11051 Southern Blvd., Unit 210, in the Southern Palm Crossing shopping plaza. For more information, call (561) 328-7497 or visit


Perfect Pastries Paired With Fresh-Roasted Coffee

Perfect Pastries Paired With Fresh-Roasted Coffee

It’s two great tastes coming together at Candid Coffee Co. and Anna Bakes, which opened in Wellington last year featuring coffee roasted on-site and made-from-scratch baked goods.

It’s a recipe for success with Candid Coffee Co. and Anna Bakes, which pairs a perfect blend of coffee with a pastry chef who specializes in elevated desserts. The two companies have joined forces in one location, bringing a new energy and sweetness to the Pointe at Wellington Green.

“Both our brands are so bright and colorful. It was all so very symbiotic immediately,” said Anna Ross, proprietor of Anna Bakes.

This must-try coffee shop and bakery specializes in on-site roasted coffee along with sweet and savory made-from-scratch baked goods and pastries — from the sweet and textured Birthday Batter Cupcakes oozing with filling, frosting and crunchy birthday crumb, to the savory Feta Pesto Danish, made with croissant dough, whipped feta cheese, pesto and grape tomatoes drizzled with a balsamic glaze.

These treats pair with an array of expertly crafted brews from Candid Coffee that include blends from Guatemala with notes of chocolate, almond and sugar cane, as well as one from Ethiopia with hints of milk chocolate, strawberry and merlot.

Coffee and bakery flavors rotate, while also keeping staples on the everyday menu, including traditional coffees.

Beans are roasted to perfection on-site, with the state-of-the-art Bellwether Coffee roasting system, which allows for customized, unique flavors by roasting beans to taste.

“We have an all-electric roaster for utmost quality and consistency,” said Candid Coffee co-owner Bryan Jenkins, who received his roasting certification in Seattle. “The whole goal is to roast on a small scale, so you can do a lot of fresh stuff quickly. It’s always fresh.”

“It’s a science and an art,” added co-owner Megan Jenkins.

A trendsetter herself, Megan began creating cold foam varieties four years ago, which have grown into 50 flavors that rotate, from funfetti to cookies-n-cream, hazy honey and malted vanilla.

“We switch them every month, and you can try a flight that includes all three of the featured drinks, as well as one of our staples,” Megan said. “I love experimenting with flavors.”

She began experimenting with ingredients, first creating a cocoa cinnamon variety. “If something’s good on a pastry, it’s probably good with coffee,” Megan said.

“Once roasted, you want to let it sit. It tastes the best between a week and two weeks after it was roasted,” Bryan explained. “My favorite coffee flavor is fruity and surprising. I like to drink them black because you get all the nuances.”

Ross said she has known since she was 15 that she would open a bakery. She was inspired by her mother. The family baked together every night, experimenting.

“I’ve always been Anna Bakes. My friends called me that in high school and college. My slogan is ‘Anna Bakes to make you happy,’ and I really feel like baked goods do that,” she said.

The Candid Coffee husband-and-wife team, Bryan and Megan Jenkins, started in Palm Beach County’s warehouse district. The Palm Beach Central High School sweethearts fell in love with the art of coffee during their travels after graduating from college. They began by roasting at their site, then remotely selling at green markets.

Meanwhile, Ross was baking from her parents’ kitchen in Lake Worth, but when they decided to sell their home, she had to find a new location. As fate had it, they found each other.

“We realized we were missing a huge ingredient, which was Anna,” Bryan explained. “We had coffee, but we needed a partner who would give us that other side. We wanted to feel like the love that went into the coffee would also go into the pastries.”

Ross, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, crafted her love of baking at the prestigious culinary university, and then took her studies abroad to France.

The fresh and welcoming coffee house-bakery is bright and open with hues of blue and muted pink, created by muralist Devin Noel. It’s also perfect for a coffee date for parents and little ones, who get their own child-sized lounge space.

“We have a kids’ latte. We foam the milk, put a little cinnamon on it, and serve it in a coffee cup, and they love that they can have a coffee date with their parents,” said Megan, adding that it is an ode to their three-year-old daughter, Riley.

Other fan favorites are the rich quiches by the slice, with scratch-made crust. Flavors include sweet potato and spinach, as well as the traditional Quiche Lorraine with ham, bacon, onion and Swiss cheese.

Scones are a savory staple, including the Everything Scone, stuffed with chunks of cream cheese and topped with “everything” seasoning. The Mama Ross Breakfast Burrito with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and tater tots, served with a side of homemade salsa, is a huge daily hit.

Special pastry rotations include the Baklava Twice Bake, drenched in honey orange syrup, pistachio and walnut phyllo crumble. The Lemon Raspberry Loaf is also popular with raspberry jam swirl and topped with lemon streusel.

There are always gluten-free and vegan options, as well as homemade granola.

The pastry and coffee creations are endless, made with a palpable passion, summed up by a bright yellow neon sign: “We go together like cake & coffee.”

Candid Coffee Co. and Anna Bakes is in the Pointe at Wellington Green at 10120 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Suite 160. For more info., visit or call (561) 766-1742.


An Elevated Italian Dining Experience

An Elevated Italian Dining Experience

Story and Photos by Melanie Kopacz

Bella Cucina restaurant exudes an essence all its own with a dining experience that will serenade your senses with impeccable Italian dishes, rich in flavor and artistry.

The new Italian restaurant Bella Cucina is an elevated experience that brings an exciting new dining addition to the western communities.

The reimagined space opened in October in the Village Royale plaza at the northwest corner of Royal Palm Beach and Okeechobee boulevards. Facing Royal Palm Beach Blvd., the space was formerly home to Mario Bros. Italian Restaurant.

Bella Cucina lives up to its name, meaning “beautiful kitchen,” as each plate of northern-style Italian cuisine is exquisitely crafted and prepared to delight.

“If you see something with your eyes, you’re going to like it. Everything comes from the eyes. Sometimes not by how much — it’s all about the quality,” chef and owner Edgar Perez said.

Quality, like the Linguine Frutti di Mare, a dish filled with favorites from the sea. Succulent shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops and calamari are served with linguine in a white wine sauce.

Another delicacy is the Vitello alla Milanese, thinly breaded veal topped with arugula, tomato, shaved parmigiano and roasted potatoes.

“I always wanted to open a restaurant with Italian cuisine, because we love that food,” Perez said. “A restaurant with a nice menu, good quality food and service.”

His career has taken him on a 25-year culinary journey starting at age 14 when he arrived in the United States from Guatemala. He has since entrenched himself in every aspect of the business at several large restaurant franchises, to eventually opening up three of his own Sabor Latino restaurants throughout Palm Beach County.

In 2016, he met his wife, Gladys Suarez, shortly after she arrived from Venezuela. While working together, they realized they had much in common.

“We have almost the same taste in food, and we created many of the dishes together,” he said.

The two are now embarking on this newest culinary collaboration together, and each dish and guest is given special attention.

“We’re happy. She loves what she’s doing. She loves customer service. We strive to make guests happy with excellence in service,” Perez said.

From the thoughtful preparation to the moment the meal is plated, vibrant accents accompany the dish with flowers and fruit.

One of those masterpieces is Costata di Manzo, a grilled prime rib sizzling in flavor over a bed of lobster mashed potatoes. Alongside is an artistic take on a salad, with a stuffed tomato that has been boiled, peeled and filled with arugula, onions and dressing, like an edible treasure chest. Branzino alla Griglia also is popular. The grilled Mediterranean striped bass is topped with a lemon butter sauce and sautéed vegetables over mashed potatoes.

Smaller plates include grilled octopus with sautéed arugula, cherry tomatoes and onions, topped with chimichurri. This crispy calamari is served with both marinara and a spicy sauce. Other traditional favorites include savory lasagna, lobster ravioli, and chicken prepared several ways, such as Francese, Parmigiana and Marsala. A special menu for children offers Spaghetti Bolognese, Fettuccine Alfredo and more.

Lunchtime is a great way to try the soups, sandwiches and pizza, Monday through Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pizzas can also be created to taste, with many toppings to choose from.

“Our house pizza has fresh mozzarella with arugula, tomatoes, prosciutto and shaved parmesan,” Perez said. “We can add grilled chicken on top, too.”

The bright and cozy dining room seats 50 with a quaint elegance as jazz plays in the background. White quartz tabletops, contrasting black chairs and lounge-style couches are topped with gold accent pillows.

Cocktails are specially crafted with bright colors and elegant dried fruit. Tinto de Verano is a popular red wine with lime juice, Sprite and dried lemon to garnish. The Bella Pineapple Cocktail is a hit, made with coconut wine, sweet and dark wine, along with pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine, served in an ice-cold brass pineapple cocktail mug.

Limoncello liqueur is a great way to finish dinner. It also comes in a flight.

“The limoncello flight is my favorite,” Suarez said. “It’s a combination of two limoncello with two cream limoncello. A sampler, so if you don’t want to drink too much.”

For dessert, try the Limoncello Mascarpone Cake, a sponge cake dipped in lemon liqueur and layered with imported mascarpone. The Tiramisu also is layered with mascarpone after the sponge cake is soaked in espresso then sprinkled with cocoa.

Traditional coffees complete the experience, from a tasty espresso to a frothy cappuccino or latte, complete with biscotti.

“We welcome all for a great, delicious meal in a comfortable setting, and surprise you with nice food,” Perez explained.

The restaurant is open Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Bella Cucina is located at 1193 Royal Palm Beach Blvd. in the Village Royale plaza. For more information, call (561) 656-1990 or visit


Meat N’ Bone: A Butcher Shop, And So Much More

Meat N’ Bone: A Butcher Shop, And So Much More

By Julie Khanna/Khanna Connections

Enjoy curated gastronomy in the heart of Wellington. Meat N’ Bone delivers high-quality meat products throughout South Florida and beyond, and its new boutique in Wellington is a haven for meat lovers.

Chef, traveler and raconteur Anthony Bourdain once claimed that without unique fine foods to enjoy, life is simply not worth living. This is a philosophy that co-founder Gabriel Llauradó has taken to heart with Meat N’ Bone, a discerning purveyor of high-quality meats, poultry and caviar based in South Florida that recently opened a boutique store in the Wellington Marketplace.

Llauradó is passionate about steak and sees himself as a docent of sorts, working with customers to create not just a memorable meal, but an unforgettable dining event.

“Back when we were kids, my mom would take me to the butcher,” Llauradó recalled. “She knew what she wanted, and she asked questions.”

He is looking to replicate that experience with Meat N’ Bone, and encourages customers to come in, spend some time and learn about the vast array of fine meats that the store carries.

“We want to show you our offerings and talk about it. You start asking questions, and we put the beef on the table,” Llauradó said. “We want you to touch the steaks, it’s fresh meat. Anything with a bone has a different shelf life, so some of the cuts are frozen, but we strive for freshness.”

With four boutique locations in Miami, Parkland, Pinecrest and Wellington, with a fifth opening in Hallandale Beach later this year, Meat N’ Bone delivers to all of Miami-Dade, Broward and most of Palm Beach County, and can deliver for free if customers schedule deliveries ahead of time. Meat N’ Bone also offers a Grill Master service for private events.

“Let’s say you want to host an event at your house, but you don’t feel like standing at the grill all night. For $200 plus the cost of the meat, we can bring a guy who cooks to order,” Llauradó explained. “Each one of our guys has hundreds of hours of grill experience and knows our products, so it’s much more unique than going out to a steakhouse.”

Llauradó created Meat N’ Bone with co-founder Luis Mata after being frustrated by the mediocre meat offerings found in Miami. Since then, it has grown exponentially. While the majority of sales are through their web site, the boutique stores allow customers a different way of buying meat.

Creating exclusive gastronomic affairs is at the heart of Meat N’ Bone’s culture, and one of the ways they cultivate this is through their dry aging and alcohol-infusion process.

Dry aging is the difference between the steak you grill in the backyard and the steaks you get when eating out. A process which both helps tenderness and intensifies flavor, large cuts of beef are aged between one month to several months before being cut into steaks.

“We have one of the best dry-age programs in the nation; we dry age in Chicago,” Llauradó said. “The thing about dry aged is it’s not for everybody. When you cook it, it has a little bit of a nutty flavor. It’s not that commonly found, and it’s not that simple to source. Our 45-day dry-aged tomahawk is incredibly flavorful.”

The concept of alcohol-infused steak came about during the pandemic. While the rest of the country was in lockdown making sourdough bread, Llauradó was conceptualizing how to combine the classic combination of steaks and spirits.

“I’m an avid drinker,” Llauradó said with a warm chuckle. “When dry aging, we infused the muscles with liquor. We did single malt whiskey, and it was delicious, but my favorite is the rum. We partnered up with Diplomático, a Venezuelan rum brand, and it was amazing. The sugar from the rum stays there, and when you cook it, you get an incredible crust.”

In addition to dry-aged steak, Meat N’ Bone prides itself on sourcing rare cuts of meat only found in the most exclusive of retailers. Picanha Steak Wagyu is highly sought-after, much beloved in Brazil, and almost impossible to find in the United States — unless you’re Gabriel Llauradó.

“It has a fat cap that crisps up beautifully when cooked, and a delicious buttery flavor that’s almost addictive,” he said. “Our Picanhas come from a family-owned company, and we have compared this program to others from major chains, finding that it consistently tastes better.”

Meat N’ Bone also carries the rarest steak in the world, the heralded New York Olive Sanuki Wagyu, a Japanese A5 Wagyu from Shodoshima Island, where cattle breeding goes back over a millennium.

“Olive-fed Wagyu comes from steers raised on a special feed of olive mulch and has become famous for its higher levels of oleic acid and nutty taste,” Llauradó said. “The texture is soft and buttery; the fat is sweet and very digestible.”

For those with a discerning palate who prefer seafood or pork to beef, Meat N’ Bone offers wild-caught African tiger prawns and Jamon Iberico from Spain.

“Our pork chops come from Farm Vera Vieja in Badajoz, Spain, from black Iberian pigs who roam freely and are fed a diet of grass and grain,” Llauradó said. “We call it the Wagyu of pork.”

A trip to Meat N’ Bone is less a trip to the butcher and more the start of a culinary journey. Llauradó is passionate about great food and bringing people together.

“Most people will learn more about beef in one visit to Meat N’ Bone than in a lifetime of buying from the supermarket,” he said.

Meat N’ Bone’s Wellington boutique is located at 13837 Wellington Trace, Suite B7, in the Wellington Marketplace. For more information, call (877) 448-6328 or visit


Pura Vida: Healthy Eating, South Florida Style

Pura Vida: Healthy Eating, South Florida Style
The growing all-day wellness café and lifestyle brand Pura Vida Miami recently opened a new location serving the Wellington area.

The growing all-day wellness café and lifestyle brand Pura Vida Miami recently opened a new location serving the Wellington area.

A vibrant new destination for health enthusiasts has arrived in the Wellington area. Pura Vida Miami, South Florida’s leading wellness and lifestyle brand, recently opened its 17th location on State Road 7. Closely following the recent opening of Pura Vida’s West Boca location, Pura Vida’s outpost in this area fills a void for delectable and equally nourishing foods in the western communities and promises to become a neighborhood hub where friends and family are eager to return time and again.

“We’re really looking forward to tapping into this new market and having the opportunity to create something unique. I lived in Wellington for a brief period, so this opening holds special meaning to me and feels like a homecoming,” said Jennifer Horev, chief brand officer at Pura Vida, who operates the chain with her husband Omer Horev, CEO and founder of Pura Vida. “Wellington is an exceptional place with people from all over the world, and the equestrian season attracts some of the most vibrant people. I’m really excited to share our brand with both visitors and residents, and bring a touch of Miami’s tropical vibe to the area.”

Pura Vida’s local outpost offers a captivating blend of all-day cuisine and picturesque charm in 3,100 square feet of indoor and outdoor seating.

Pura Vida’s commitment to sourcing local and organic ingredients, along with high-quality proteins, ensures a diverse menu catering to various dietary preferences. Drawing inspiration from family recipes and the Horevs’ extensive travels, every item on the menu is carefully crafted for individuals who value health, along with exceptional food that can be enjoyed at any time of day.

The chain’s renowned all-day breakfast selection features an array of offerings, including avocado toast, pasture-raised egg sandwiches, fresh bagels, raw organic açaí bowls, and an assortment of freshly baked gluten-free and vegan sweet treats.

Beyond breakfast, the expansive menu showcases a wellness-driven assortment of salads, wraps, sandwiches and bowls. Complementing the menu are cold-pressed juices, invigorating shots, kombucha, and artisanal coffees and teas.

Families are also in for a treat, as Pura Vida offers a kids’ menu with delightful and gluten-free options like Tiny Toasted Chicken, Cheesy Grilled Cheese and Kid’s Acai, ensuring a delightful dining experience for all ages.

“We are thrilled to be bringing our slice of tropical paradise to the Wellington area,” Omer Horev said. “It’s the perfect place to continue expanding our footprint in Palm Beach County and also gives us the opportunity to serve and connect with its neighboring communities of Royal Palm Beach, Greenacres and Loxahatchee Groves, among others. Wellington and its surrounding neighborhoods are the ideal family-friendly communities we wish to immerse ourselves into.”

Since 2012, this family-owned and operated lifestyle brand has been dedicated to making a positive impact in the community. With more than 550 careers created across the region and active sustainability initiatives, including beach cleanups and food waste composting, Pura Vida continues to enrich South Florida’s cultural and environmental landscape.

In addition to the new restaurant on State Road 7, Pura Vida operates 17 other locations, including South Beach, West Ave., Edgewater, Miami Design District, West Palm Beach, Aventura, Bay Harbor, Las Olas, Brickell, Sunset Harbour, Miracle Mile, South Miami, Doha, Qatar, Doral, Miami Shores and West Boca.

Pura Vida Miami is located at 440 S. State Road 7, Suite 200, on the west side of State Road 7 at the border of Wellington and Royal Palm Beach. Delivery and pick-up are available through the Pura Vida Miami app. For more info., visit


Enjoy Amazing Pizza And So Much More

Enjoy Amazing Pizza And So Much More Big Rocco’s Pizzeria And Tavern In RPB Is Part Neighborhood Bar and Part Italian Restaurant

Story and Photos by Melanie Kopacz

Big Rocco’s Pizzeria and Tavern is part pizzeria and part neighborhood bar with a weekly lineup of live music to rock anyone’s musical tastes.

The bar concept includes pool leagues, poker, bingo and sporting events meshed with a lively crowd. There’s also amped-up pub food and a bar full of specials. But it’s the traditional New York-style pizza at Big Rocco’s that is the true star with a fan base all its own.

The restaurant has become a destination for its New York-style flavors, opening its doors in 2019 at the Village Shoppes, located at the northwest corner of Southern Blvd. and State Road 7 in Royal Palm Beach.

Big Rocco’s is a loyal go-to for pizza lovers craving the authentic flavor, sauce and crust.

“It’s all made from scratch — the dough and the sauce, using San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes,” said owner Vikas Bansal, who moved from India to New York City, and that’s where he quickly became a fan of East Coast-style pizza. “I lived in New York City for 17 years. I always loved the pizza there.”

It became the inspiration years later when Bansal opened a gas station in Wellington. That is where the concept for Big Rocco’s came to be. Starting as a very busy “Express” pizza to-go business, Bansal decided to expand his popular pizza business into a full restaurant and tavern with live events. It has been attracting both locals and the equestrian crowd during the season, as it’s geared for people of all ages.

“We want people to come in and have a good time,” Bansal said. “Parents and kids.”

The casual atmosphere makes for a laid-back dining experience, with a wide variety of pizza choices, such as the popular BBQ Chicken Pizza, layered with a smoky sauce, generous portions of tender chicken, sprinkled with onions and bacon. It is one of the top choices on the menu.

The New Yorker Pizza is also a big seller, loaded with pepperoni, sausage, onions and mushrooms, along with a mix of fresh red and green peppers. Make it a Big Rocco’s Signature Pizza by taking all those same ingredients, then add ham, tomatoes, black olives and extra cheese.

Other interesting combinations include the Meatball Parm Pizza, topped with ricotta cheese, meatballs and fresh garlic, and the Buffalo Chicken Pizza with grilled chicken and blue cheese crumbles.

For a great deal, check out the large cheese pizza special for $10.99 Mondays and Tuesdays. Add a topping or two for 99 cents each.

Lunch specials from just $7.99 run until 3 p.m. and include a beverage or a draft beer. It includes different combinations, from two slices of pizza, or mix it up with a garden salad. Cheeseburgers or chicken tenders with fries are also available. Drink specials at that time are $3 for draft beers and $5 for house liquor.

The dining room is filled with lots of high-top seating, as well as a few large and cozy corner booths. The bar sits just toward the back with seating all along three sides. There are a number of drink specials and about a dozen beers on tap that rotate. At the bar, the top seller is Fifty States 6x distilled premium vodka.

If you’re looking to snack, the wings are a specialty that come in several flavors, from southern barbecue to honey bourbon, garlic parmesan and more. They’re marinated, baked and flash-fried for a juicy, crispy wing.

The Hangover Burger is a huge hit, oozing with toppings that include cheddar cheese, sliced tomatoes, bacon, a fried egg and mango habanero sauce to round out the flavors. There’s also stromboli and calzone choices, including a veggie option.

Piping hot meatballs made fresh from scratch are simmered in their homemade tomato sauce and sit atop spaghetti. They come with the popular garlic knots, baked and basted with butter and fresh garlic.

The New York Cheesecake is a delicious way to end a meal, topped with a variety of drizzle options, including chocolate, caramel, strawberry or blackberry.

The large pool room sits toward the back of the restaurant. It also doubles as a private party room. It includes darts and other games. A large wine selection fills the nearby wall.

The dining room is lit with warm fixtures creating a relaxed atmosphere, as Louis Prima and Dean Martin songs play on the jukebox, and paintings of Al Pacino and Leonardo DiCaprio hang on the walls.

A variety of genres of live music fill the restaurant every Friday night, spanning from country, to pop, rock and folk. The fun continues throughout the week with poker night on Wednesdays, bingo on Thursdays and karaoke on Saturdays, as well as monthly paint-n-sip parties. Big Rocco’s also hosts a large contingent of Miami Dolphins football fans.

“We also have a charity event once a month with as many as 200 people, along with vendors, a quarter auction and more,” Bansal said. “Our goal is to be a neighborhood bar and a favorite restaurant.”

Current hours are noon to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and noon to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. The restaurant will open daily at 11 a.m. during the winter equestrian season.

Big Rocco’s Pizzeria and Tavern is located at 10479 Southern Blvd. in Royal Palm Beach’s Village Shoppes. For more info., call (561) 318-8927 or visit Find them on Facebook and Instagram for details on upcoming events.


Swank Farm Table Season Preview

Swank Farm Table Season Preview Enjoy A Feast For The Senses At A Wide Array Of Special Culinary Events

As the local growing season comes into full swing, Swank Specialty Produce is once again set to captivate the hearts and palates of area food enthusiasts with its highly anticipated Swank Table series and Farmers Market.

This year promises a lineup of extraordinary chefs and a series of immersive culinary experiences that celebrate the bounty of Florida’s vibrant agricultural scene. It promises to be a season of unforgettable flavors and community camaraderie.

Considered a culinary extravaganza, the Swank Table series, comprising 10 enchanting al fresco dinners set on the farm, kicks off on Sunday, Nov. 12, with a festive Fall Harvest Hoe Down, followed by a Farm Market Asado on Sunday, Dec. 3, with eight more Swank Table events planned for January through April.

These events are a celebration of the finest ingredients sourced from Florida’s farmers, ranchers, artisanal producers, micro-brewers, distillers and winemakers. The culmination of these elements results in an extravagant multicourse dinner meticulously curated by top-tier chefs. Each Swank Table event also contributes to a local charity, adding a meaningful dimension to the dining experience.

The evening begins with a refreshing welcome cocktail, courtesy of UNA Vodka and Miami Club Rum, followed by an amuse-bouche to tantalize the taste buds. Attendees can then indulge in a selection of canapés featuring four distinct appetizers crafted by the featured chefs, perfectly paired with bubbles.

Guests are invited to explore the hydroponic grow houses, guided personally by co-owner Darrin Swank, or take a leisurely stroll through the fields, gaining insight into the workings of this bustling farm. The pinnacle of the evening arrives with a delectable five-course plated dinner beneath Swank’s rustic pole barn. Sommelier Jon Wine curates a selection of wines to harmonize with the dishes, while local craft brewers present an array of their specialty beers. Live music from South Florida’s favorite musicians sets the tone for a memorable evening, leaving guests feeling like cherished members of the Swank family.

A stellar chef lineup for this season, Swank Specialty Produce is delighted to welcome Jon Sarmiento as the lead chef liaison, bringing a wealth of experience both on and off the farm. His culinary journey includes stints at renowned establishments such as Cholo Soy and Palm Beach Meats. Joining him are an array of exciting new participating chefs, including South Florida’s own Carlos Garcia from Leku, Brian Nasajon of Beaker & Gray, Akino West from Rosie’s, Chef Moon of Sushi by Bou, Johnny Demartini from Ravish, Huy Hoang from Le Colonial, Warren’s Jen Knox and the esteemed Antonio Bachour. Additionally, the farm will play host to visiting culinary talents Fabian Di Paolo from Shearwater Tavern in California, Jonathan Merry from Riverhouse in Maine and the eagerly anticipated return of Buccan’s Clay Conley.

With this exciting lineup of talent, immersive farm experiences and a thriving Farmers Market, Swank Specialty Produce’s season promises a feast for the senses and a celebration of community spirit. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to indulge in the finest flavors of Florida’s bounty. “Tickets for all events are on sale now, so mark your calendars and join us for a season of unforgettable moments on the farm,” co-owner Jodi Swank said.

The season opens with the Fall Harvest Hoe Down on Sunday, Nov. 12 at 4 p.m., benefiting Beachwood Integrative Equine Therapy, and the Farm Market Asado on Sunday, Dec. 3 at 4 p.m., benefiting the Bak Middle School of the Arts Foundation. Events continue in 2024 with: Running with the Bulls: A Night in Spain on Sunday, Jan. 21 at 4 p.m., benefiting the Dr. Gary Paul Swank Memorial Scholarship and the Foundation for Palm Beach State College; Club Carnival Mardi Gras on Sunday, Feb. 4 at 4 p.m., benefiting the Connections Education Center of the Palm Beaches (be sure to wear Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold and bring your favorite mask!); Bourbon, BBQ and Blues on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. benefiting the Loxahatchee Groves Landowners’ Association Scholarship Fund; Throwback to the ’70s on Sunday, Feb. 25 at 4 p.m., benefiting the Cancer Alliance (wear your favorite bell-bottom jeans, hippie dresses, ’70s wigs and dancing shoes); Street Food: Cultures of Asia on Sunday, March 10 at 5 p.m., benefiting the Hanley Foundation; She Feasts: A Swank Table Farm Party Celebrating Women Chefs on Sunday, March 24 at 5 p.m., benefiting Spring of Hope; the 13th Annual Vêtu de Blanc: The White Party on Sunday, April 7 at 5 p.m., benefiting the West Palm Beach Library Foundation (come dressed in white and bring candlesticks, candelabras, votives in glass and/or any other candle holder to make the evening sparkle!); and Cooking with Cannabis on Sunday, April 21 at 5 p.m., benefiting Path to College (Swank Farm is a Florida-licensed hemp grower, and the hemp tea is not to be missed).

Swank Farm is also known for its flourishing Farmer’s Market, a celebration of Florida’s rich agricultural tapestry amidst the picturesque Loxahatchee Groves countryside. Taking place every Saturday through May from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., this complimentary market offers an array of farm-fresh lettuces, vegetables, herbs and wildflower bouquets from Swank Farm. Guests can relish live music and explore a diverse range of exceptional goods from 25 local vendors. Shopping is a joy under Swank Farm’s expansive open-air pole barn, providing a delightful experience regardless of the weather. Ample free parking is readily available, ensuring a hassle-free visit. Whether visitors seek to stock up for the week, savor a breakfast sandwich, or simply enjoy coffee and a pastry, the market offers something for everyone.

Swank Specialty Produce is located at 14311 North Road in Loxahatchee Groves. Find details about all events online at


Wellington Table: The Perfect Cake For Your Wedding

Wellington Table: The Perfect Cake For Your Wedding Johnson’s Custom Cakes Of Wellington Creates Unique Masterpieces That Will Be A Focal Point Of Any Celebration

By Shannon Anastasio

A wedding is a celebration of love, unity and commitment. Every detail is meticulously planned to create a memorable experience. Among the many elements that contribute to the grandeur of a wedding celebration, the wedding cake stands as a sweet centerpiece that captures the essence of the occasion. It is a symbol of the couple’s journey and sets the tone for the festivities.

Johnson’s Custom Cakes, located here in Wellington, has mastered the art of creating these edible masterpieces that stand as the focal point of any wedding reception.

The wedding cake is steeped in tradition and symbolism. Its multi-tiered structure signifies the layers of the couple’s journey, the shared experiences and the promise of a future together. Traditionally, the act of cutting the cake is a poignant moment, symbolizing the bride and groom’s first joint task as a married couple.

The sweet exchange of cake represents their commitment to provide for one another, and the ensuing shared bite is a promise of mutual support. As the centerpiece of the reception, the wedding cake embodies the essence of the celebration and usually reflects the couple’s unique style and personality.

A wedding cake is more than just a dessert; it is a work of art. Owner Yumi de la Rosa and her team at Johnson’s Custom Cakes invest time, creativity and skill to craft visually stunning confections that leave a lasting impression. From intricate floral arrangements to meticulously hand-painted designs, these cakes are a testament to craftsmanship. Every detail is thoughtfully considered, ensuring that the cake complements the overall theme and décor of the wedding. With the right design, a wedding cake can transform an ordinary space into a fairytale setting.

Among the many bakeries that specialize in creating wedding cakes, Johnson’s Custom Cakes stands out as a true gem. With many years of experience and a passionate team of skilled bakers and designers, they have mastered the art of turning flour, sugar and eggs into edible works of art. This commitment to quality is evident in every cake created — each with careful attention to detail.

One of the key strengths of Johnson’s Custom Cakes is the ability to personalize each creation. The team works closely with couples to understand their vision, ensuring that the cake not only tastes divine but also reflects the couple’s unique style and story. Whether it’s a classic, timeless design or a whimsical, modern creation, Johnson’s Custom Cakes brings dreams to life.

The wedding cake is a sweet masterpiece that encapsulates the essence of the occasion. Its symbolic significance and artistic expression make it an integral part of the celebration, leaving an indelible mark on the memories of all who attend. Johnson’s Custom Cakes, brings a commitment to excellence and a personalized approach, standing as a testament to the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into creating these sweet centerpieces that not only satisfy taste buds but also touch hearts, making them an invaluable part of any wedding celebration.

Johnson’s Custom Cakes is located at 9148 Forest Hill Blvd. in the Kobosko’s Crossing shopping plaza. For more information, visit or call (561) 422-0303 to set up a personalized wedding cake consultation.


Enjoy Classic Italian Recipes

Enjoy Classic Italian Recipes Pizza Cucinova Brings Authentic Neapolitan Cuisine To The Mall At Wellington Green

Story and Photos by Melanie Kopacz

Pizza Cucinova has added a taste of Italy to the upper level of the Mall at Wellington Green. The newly opened pizzeria began serving its homemade Neapolitan cuisine in May.

Priscilla Vazquez, Pizza Cucinova’s compliance and brand director, has family from Naples. “I used a lot of family recipes from my grandma and my dad for the pastas,” she explained.

Those generational recipes are what Vazquez learned growing up in the kitchen. “I like being in the kitchen. I like to cook and experiment. I really enjoy it when people tell me it’s great, and then I tell them, ‘It’s my grandma’s recipe!’” she said.

Many of those recipes have been meshed throughout the company’s reimagined menu and concept.

From pepperoni stromboli filled with mozzarella, or a hand-crafted Marguerita pizza to share with friends, to desserts, like cannoli or tiramisu, to go with a barista-made cappuccino, Pizza Cucinova is a great complement to a day of shopping. There’s a lot of appeal to the restaurant, breathing new life into a former pizzeria closed for years.

“We got the opportunity to open here at the mall. We have the Sbarro’s downstairs, and they gave us a location for our Mexican spot, Madre’s, so it’s a good collaboration between us and the mall,” Vazquez said.

The eatery is nestled just a few doors down from Macy’s. You can’t miss the vintage 1940s Italian motorcycle parked at the entrance to welcome guests. Popular scenes from Italy fill the walls. A board boasts the specials, while a window box displays tasty Italian treats as shoppers pass by. The sleek black exterior mixed with brick makes the pizzeria stand out.

“The pizza — it’s an artisan dough, so it’s soft and bready on the inside, but crunchy on the outside,” Vazquez said. “It’s better within the first couple of hours. If you’re taking it home, it’s best to put it in the oven or air fryer, not the microwave, in order to keep the crispness.”

The classic cheese and pepperoni as well as the barbecue pizza are both top sellers. “We have our own pizza sauce — basic tomatoes, salt, sugar and it’s very light. No garlic, but lots of basil,” Vazquez said.

The bruschetta, a vegetarian pizza, is the most popular. “It has pesto sauce, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. We add arugula after it cooks, mix it with a little lemon vinaigrette and then drizzle it with balsamic glaze,” Vazquez said.

When it comes to salads, it’s the Mediterranean that sells the most.

“It’s my favorite. I love the dressing and the pepperoncini on top. It’s very earthy and fresh tasting with multiple flavors,” Vazquez said. “It’s a good blend, a well-balanced salad. You can add salmon or steak.”

The wings are always a favorite starter.

“We have three different sauces that we make here. The Buffalo sauce, which is freshly made; the barbecue sauce that we make sweet and tangy; and then the garlic butter sauce, which we also make in house,” she said.

Calamari is also a popular starter. “It’s very high quality. I add a little seasoning after it’s fried,” Vazquez said. “It’s very lightly breaded, very good.”

For bread lovers, the garlic knots are a must to complement a meal.

“It’s the same artisan dough we use to make the pizza, but we smother it in a butter garlic sauce with herbs and olive oil, before we roll it into a knot. We put it in the oven, and then brush it with a little more when it comes out and add Parmesan on top,” she said. “Crunchy on the outside, but soft on the inside.”

Other signature pizzas included the spicy Hawaiian. It’s topped with ham, pineapple, bacon and mozzarella. The quattro carne meat lovers’ pizza is topped with four meats — sausage, pepperoni, meatballs and ham. Pair it with a glass of wine or beer.

Gluten-free crust and vegan options are also available. The pizzas can be fully customized. “If I have it, I have no problem making it,” Vazquez said.

The spaghetti also has its own twist on flavor. “There’s rosemary in the sauce,” she explained. “It’s a unique family recipe.”

Better be hungry if you’re ordering the carne lasagna, a family classic. The slice is huge and dripping in meat sauce, like her grandma’s. The tender beef is slowly simmered in marinara. Two artisan bread sticks poke from the bowl, making for the perfect combination with each bite.

“The more you eat, the more you’re happy,” Vazquez said. “That’s why our portions are so big.”

Aside from the love of cooking, Vazquez equally loves to interact with the guests.

“I want people to come in and feel like they’re home. Nothing formal, I want them to feel comfortable to come back whenever they want and think the food is great and the service is great,” she said. “If you don’t invest in what you love, it’s not going to be successful, and it will show. That’s what my grandma always taught me.”

Pizza Cucinova is located on the upper level of the Mall at Wellington Green at 10300 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Suite 238. It is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. For more information, call (561) 614-6800.


Locally Brewed Beers On Tap

Locally Brewed Beers On Tap
Royal Palm Brewing Company Serves Up Unique Brews And More At RPB Tasting Room

By Frank Koester

What started as a home brewing hobby 14 years ago has grown into the Royal Palm Brewing Company, a beer-brewing enterprise with a local tasting room featuring more than a dozen unique beers at any given time, as well as a distribution system that supplies the beers to restaurants and retailers across Florida.

Royal Palm Brewing is the brainchild of the husband-and-wife team of George and Pam Shetka, along with George’s brother Geof Shetka.

“People laugh when we tell them, but the first beer we ever brewed was what we call Psycho Sisters today,” George said, referring to the company’s award-winning Russian imperial stout. “It turned out really good, and we still have a bottle of it.”

That very first brew was a life-changing experience for Geof. “The very first day that we brewed that first homebrew, I knew I wanted to do that,” he recalled. “I wasn’t sure if it was going to be working for another brewery or starting our own, but it was just one of those things always in the back of my head.”

After years of home brewing, the Shetkas began putting together their business plan in 2016, but it took two years before the tasting room off State Road 7 opened in 2018. Much of that time was taken up in finding an appropriate site, and then getting the necessary approvals. The Village of Royal Palm Beach had to change its rules to allow microbreweries.

“One of the councilmen, Jeff Hmara, took us under his wing and said, ‘That’s cool. I think that’s something that would be good for the community,’” George said.

Pam noted that their goal was not to create a bar, serving beer and other alcohol into the early morning hours.

“We want it to be a place where people in this community can go,” she said. “They can feel safe, they can bring their children, they can eat, they can have our craft beer and appreciate what we do.”

At any given time, Royal Palm Brewing serves up more than a dozen craft-brewed beers to fit every taste. Aside from the popular Psycho Sisters stout, you’ll find several other award-winning beers, such as the 63 Axe Handles American lager, the Half Moon Island American wheat ale and the Sour Yeti sour ale made with raspberry, hibiscus and Persian lime puree. There’s also a Mexican-style lager (Cerveza de Jorge), an American pale ale (the Mountains Are Calling), an amber ale (SR 7) and much more.

The beers are of their own creation through the years, some based on suggestions from patrons. George compared brewing beer to baking chocolate chip cookies.

“There’s a basic foundation to a chocolate chip cookie. It’s what you do with that cookie that makes it your own,” he said. “A beer is grain, water, hops and yeast. There’s pretty much a standard of what you can do in each category… You have to have that foundation, but you can take that and make it your own. You’re not really reinventing the wheel, you’re just kind of unique at the wheel.”

Right now, Royal Palm Brewing has a maximum capacity of about 1,100 to 1,200 barrels a year, although they are not producing that much. They plan to grow as needed, but they don’t want to over-expand, nor bring in outside investors.

“We brew everything ourselves. We’re also very proud that we own this,” George said. “It is ours, and we want to be able to make that final decision on what we’re going to do.”

Working with partner Progressive Distribution, the company’s beers can now be found in dozens of local restaurants and retail shops across the state. Locally, that includes PapiChulo Tacos, JoJo’s Raw Bar, Tree’s Wings, Bonefish Mac’s, Big Rocco’s Pizza, World of Beer and on the shelves at Total Wine & More.

Royal Palm Brewing is one of the few beer-tasting rooms to offer a full menu of food and appetizers. Popular items include a charcuterie board featuring a taste-tempting selection of sliced meats, cheeses, fruit and nuts; a variety of flatbread pizzas, such as the pepperoni with large-sliced pepperoni, mozzarella and marinara sauce; and a jumbo Bavarian-style pretzel, perfect for sharing.

Other options include a variety of waffle snackers, all-beef hotdogs and Polish sausages, hot sandwiches, grilled wraps and fresh-made salads. Initially, they weren’t going to have an extensive menu, but it grew due to requests from patrons.

“We started these little pita pizzas for the kids, and then we found that adults were eating them. So, now we have our wood-fired flatbreads,” George explained. “We used to do hotdogs and Polish sausages for our October festival. It’s popular, so let’s add that to the menu.”

The tasting room is set to expand over the next year with the planned addition of outdoor seating and more space by taking over a bay next door. The space will be used to increase the capacity of the brewing business. “Now we’ll be able to increase our productivity to distribute more beer,” George said.

The tasting room is open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, with happy hour specials all day Tuesday and from open until 6 p.m. from Wednesday to Sunday. The tasting room is closed on Monday. Check the online calendar for an array of fun weekly and special events.

Royal Palm Brewing Company is located in the Commons at Royal Palm shopping plaza at 543 N. State Road 7, Suite 103, in Royal Palm Beach. For more information, call (561) 792-5822 or visit