Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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EatBeat: Comings, Goings — Thai Jo, Joseph’s Classic Bistro, Village Tavern, Ouzo Blue, Legal Seafoods

March 8th, 2009 · No Comments

The partners who brought you several Sushi Jo restaurants are coming to CityPlace with their newest concept – Thai Jo.

Scott Guerrieri and Joe Clark are hoping to open it soon on the second level of CityPlace next to Taverna Opa.

“It’s a little different (than the PGA outlet), but we still will have sushi and sashimi on the menu along with Thai foods like pad Thai, curry, steamed whole yellow-eye snapper,” Guerrieri said.

The focus will be on the prepared foods as opposed to sushi, he said, “to offer a wider range of foods for diners who come in and may not want sushi.”

Kobe beef, crispy duck and several curry dishes will be featured. “A lot of our workers are from Thailand so it makes sense,” he said.

They’ll also offer their signature high-end sake and beers here, as well.

Are they afraid of opening in these economic times? “If you do any kind of business in these times, there’s a measure of anxiety. But we’re surviving on PGA — and that’s a very tough place to run a restaurant. That’s our high-water mark — if you can make it there you’ll survive just about anywhere.”

But, he said, people are still eating out. “They’re looking for good restaurants with good values. Sushi costs money — so by offering the Thai menu, we’re giving them an option pricewise as well as with cuisines.”

Other locations for Thai Jo are being considered, in Wellington and Boca, he said, and other concepts may be in the works as well as well. “We started a sushi restaurant with no experience in it, and it is very successful, so now we’re evolving, and looking for long-term ideas.”

They may not have had sushi experience, but the parnters both come from heavy food backgrounds. Guerrieri’s family owned the Cookin’ Good poultry brand – and selling in Asia got him interested in sushi. Clark was a noted chef and was able to bring the culinary side to the business.

But the reason for their success is simple, Guerrieri said. “We work really hard adn we’re passionate about what we do. Plus we’re in here 24/7 most of the time.”

Check back and we’ll announce their opening.

Joseph’s Market Adding Bistro

Hot, prepared foods sold by the pound is the plan at Joseph’s Classic Bistro. It will be a few doors away from the popular Joseph’s Classic Market on PGA Boulevard — both the creation of joseph Acierno.

“We’re looking to do a cafeteria-style casual place where you can choose what you want by the pound — maybe somebody in the family is a light eater and the other isn’t,” said Jerry Bivona, a manager at Joseph’s. “There will be tables — you can sit down and eat it here, or take it out. Either way — you have a fresh dinner to order.”

The cafeteria style is a nod to the ever-tightening economy, Bivona said. “People want to go out to eat but after the tip on a big meal, you could buy another dinner. So this way, it’s a fast self-serve, no tip, and you still get a restaurant quality meal.”

Think of it like an upscale Sbarro’s, he said. “We’ll have a whole line of prepared foods — and specialty items like an Italian steak sandwich with provolone and garlic butter, spumoni from Brooklyn, Junior’s cheesecake and Italian bread from a New York bakery.

“It will be a fast way to grab lunch reasonably or a way for the soccer mom to pick up a whole dinner to take home, ready to go.”

If it goes well, the bistro concept will be added to the Joseph’s Market in Wellington, and to the one in Boca Town Center scheduled for an April opening.

Joseph’s Classic Market

  • 4595 Northlake Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens
  • Phone: 561-799-0322; www.josephsclassicmarket.com
  • Open Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.

Village Tavern Open in Boynton

The Village Tavern, a chain based in North Carolina, opened recently in the Renaissance Commons plaza on Gateway Boulevard in Boynton Beach.

Steaks (aged 28 days), meatloaf, burgers and wood-oven flatbreads are among the items on the American menu. It’s split into two rooms — the tavern/bar area on the left, centered on a bar with TVs overhead, and a dining room with dark woods and a theater kitchen in the back.

A Sunday brunch menu features Benedicts, omelets, frittatas, and shrimp and grits along with other Tavern specialty sandwiches, soups and salads.

There are 130 wines on their list with nearly half of them offered by the glass.  

For dessert look for the “world’s smallest sundae.”

This is their third restaurant in Florida — there’s one in Orlando,, and another has just opened in Pembroke Pines.

Village Tavern

  • 1880 N. Congress Ave., (Renaissance Commons), Boynton Beach
  • Phone: 561-853-0280; www.villagetavern.com
  • Open daily at 11 a.m.; open till 11 p.m. weekdays; midnight or later in the bar and dining room weekends. Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday dinner and bar, till 10 p.m.

Ouzo Blue Now in the Gardens

The Greek taverna and ouzo bar (think bellydancing and lots of “Opa!” going down), Ouzo Blue opened recently in Palm Beach Gardens in the former Metronome location.

It’s set up for a tapas munching session — with 15 mezze plates listed. Traditionals are the taramosalata or dolmades; newcomers are baby back ribs ala Greco with lemon, oregano and olive oil and chicken wings done the same way. Entrees include kebabs, lamb dishes, chicken and gyros; whole char-broiled fish is another specialty. From the dining room, you can see the chefs prepare the foods. More than just ouzo appears at the bar; look for Greek wines and specialty drinks.

It’s open for lunch and dinner and offers a VIP area for big parties. Outdoor seating is available.

Ouzo Blue

  • 5090 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens (in PGA Commons)
  • Phone: 561-776-3188; www.ouzoblue.com
  • Open 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Sunday-Thursday; till 3 a.m. Friday-Saturday.

Sorry to lose Legal Sea Foods

One of the first restaurants to open in CityPlace in downtown West Palm Beach was Legal Sea Foods – the Boston import. Its current CEO, Roger Berkowitz, and I became friends over several meals, discussing the state of food, fish and the city.

Berkowitz announced to its staff this week that it will shut down at the end of April. The disagreements between Berkowitz and CityPlace’s management are legendary; with Berkowitz stating the obvious — the tone of the outdoor mall has changed a good deal from its original plans.

I’m sorry to see it go. The clam chowder alone was worth a visit, but a knowledgeable staff, good fish and a solid wine list created by in-house wine expert Sandy Block made for a nice meal anytime.

There’s a Legal still in Boca’s Town Center Mall, and I hope Berkowitz finds a good spot to relocate the one in West Palm Beach.

Also closed…

Garden of Eden, the gourmet market, in Jupiter…Amazonia, the Brazilian rodizio steakhouse, in Legacy Place, Palm Beach Gardens (sign says it’s moving to Broward County)…Sakura Steakhouse, a Japanese steakhouse, in Wellington…and Black Canyon Grill, a locally owned restaurant we hate to see go, in Royal Palm Beach.

Tags: The Eat Beat: Restaurant News

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