Puccini's Pizzeria – Yamato & 441

We had dinner last night at Puccini’s Pizza, in the HSBC Plaza on the southeast corner of Yamato and 441.
We did not have pizza on this visit. They have great pizza! We’ve seen plenty of strong reviews of it (see Google for example) and wanted to try some other dishes.
We had three dishes:
Tortellini Alfredo – This was pretty good. The pasta was very good but we’ve had better alfredo sauces.
Side of meatballs – Also pretty good. We’ve had better, but still okay. The meatballs had some flavor and the sauce was a little thin.
Broccoli rabe with sausage – Not bad. The plate was heavy on the sausage and a little light on the broccoli rabe. More important – the flavor was excellent. But it’s pricey – $12 for this item.
The service was excellent. There was an annoying table with screaming kids, but it’s hard to blame the restaurant for that.
Overall I’d say this is a great place for pizza, and okay for other dishes.
A couple of notes:
Smokehouse Grill and Wingery next door has apparently closed; and
The Puccini’s website may be having problems. When we searched for it on Google, clicking the link led us to some spammy websites. However, we still were able to get to the actual site sometimes. This is the link for the chain, but we can’t promise it’ll get you to the right place: Puccini’s Pizza.

Padrino's in Mission Bay

Padrino’s Cuban restaurant in Mission Bay Plaza has a lunch buffet for $9.99 on weekdays. The price does not include drinks.
Today the buffet included picadillo (a ground beef dish), fried chicken, another beef dish (more like a stew with nice soft chunks of meat) and a roast pork item.
There are three choices of rice, two soups (the black bean was good), salad, fried plantains and fresh fruit. Also there is a potato stuffed with picadillo.
The customers all seemed to be speaking Spanish, which we consider a good sign. We really enjoyed our meal.

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Tijuana Flats in Coconut Creek

We’ve had lunch a few times at Tijuana Flats. It’s in a plaza on the south side of Hillsboro at 441, across from the Walmart.

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The menu is somewhat typical for fast casual Mexican. There are tacos, burritos and so on. For most items there’s a choice of beef, chicken, steak or carnitas.
I’ve become a fan of the “No-rrito” which is pitched as a burrito without the tortilla. The steak Norrito is about $7.50 and comes with beans and rice, along with various fixings like guacamole.
We had a beef taco plate today that was also very good.
Tijuana Flats has a “sauce bar” where you can fill very small cups with a wide variety of sauces, labeled with smiley or frowny faces depending on how spicy they are.
Comparable places might include Moe’s Southwest Grill and Chipotle Mexican Grill. Tijuana Flats is a little better than both in food quality, variety and service. the interior design is also a little more interesting.
For the chain’s website: Tijuana Flats

Steve's Wood Fired Pizza

We had a pizza tonight at Steve’s Wood Fired Pizza. It’s a small place in Boca Lyons Plaza on the southwest corner of Glades and Lyons.
The pizza was very good, with a thin but well textured crust, great sauce and cheese. Two kids who don’t always eat much ate their fill. We got half pepperoni for the old folks and the meat was just right.
We also had a sausage and peppers appetizer. The sausage was sweet as advertised and the blend was delicious.
We closed with zeppole, an Italian fried dough. They were fantastic, and particularly popular with the children.
One minor negative – the kitchen was slow but that was apparently due to a new employee learning the ropes.

Red Lantern in Piccadilly Square

Update: Red Lantern closed in 2014. It is being replaced by Armadillo Cafe.
We had a quick lunch today at Red Lantern, in Piccadilly Square on the north side of Glades just west of 81st Avenue and the Turnpike.
The lunch specials were very inexpensive, roughly $6 including soup, rice, and an egg roll or spring roll. Brown rice is an option at no extra charge.
The Wonton soup was just right. Hot and Sour soup was mediocre but not terrible. The Szechuan shrimp was good but less spicy than expected. Chicken with mixed vegetables had a subtle flavor, though some might find it bland.
Portion sizes were not overwhelming but that may explain the low prices.
On the whole Red Lantern was good enough that we will be back. But it wasn’t great either.

Shinju Buffet – Sushi and More

We went to the Shinju Buffet restaurant a few days ago, and we’ve been there at least once before. Shinju is located on the north side of Glades Road just east of the Turnpike entrance:

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Most of the buffet area is devoted to sushi and some Asian cooked dishes. There is a large round table in the middle with a wide variety of sushi, sashimi and a few related dishes. While they put out a variety of rolls, nigiri, and sashimi, it is composed of only a few types of fish. Mainly you’ll see maguro (red tuna), salmon, white tuna, and a few others. I did see something labeled “red snapper”, but suspect that it may not really be that – see Daily Finance for a story.
Overall the sushi was good. The fish seemed fresh (you have to try the sashimi to get a better feel for freshness), and there were some good options.
What stood out to me was the quality of the cooked dishes. These items just tasted better than other Asian buffets we’ve experienced. Also, Shinju has a “wok bar” which is somewhat like Mongolian barbecue (except, of course, that it’s cooked in a wok). You put an array of vegetables on a plate, along with some seasonings, put some sauce in a cup, and hand it to the cook and tell him what meat you want (beef, chicken, or shrimp). He puts the vegetables in boiling water and starts cooking the meat, then puts the vegetables in with the meat and then the sauce.

I had shrimp with a lot of garlic and ginger, and Mongolian BBQ sauce plus some spicy sauce. It was really outstanding, probably the best Chinese dish I’ve had in several months.
There is also a dessert table, of course, with good selections including decent ice cream.
Cost was about $18 for an adult, and $10 for kids. Drinks were $2.50 each. Please also note that the website – sushishinju -dot- com appears to be invalid.

Martica Colombian Restaurant

I’ve eaten at Martica, also known as Donde Martica, a couple times now. Today I had breakfast. it was good and the price was reasonable – just over $6 before tip.
Martica is in southwest Boca Raton on the southeast corner of Sandalfoot and 441. It is adjacent to or possibly part of Sandalfoot Plaza. A banner in front indicates that it is under new management.
The menu had several breakfast platter options. I speak and read some Spanish, and the descriptions were in English, but I still had trouble understanding what a few of the items were.
The one I chose came With scrambled eggs with tomato and onion, and a thick corn tortilla (corn cake) covered with cheese, plus hot chocolate or coffee. The hot chocolate was good, and not over-sweetened like you see sometimes.
The eggs and corn cake were also good. Nothing was fantastic but it’s just eggs.

Brooklyn Boys at Shadowood Shopping Center

imageGrab a slice of NY style pizza at Brooklyn Boys. If you just want a quick slice or two, this is the place to go in West Boca. Their pizza is delicious. You can order a pie also. They offer a large variety of toppings at a reasonable price. They deliver as well.
We do not agree with the old criticism of them on the WorstPizza website. Either they’ve improved or the critic was wrong.

Doraku in Miami – Brickell

Eating lunch today at Doraku in Miami in Mary Brickell Village.
I had a couple items off the limited lunch specials – a roll/sashimi combo and the beef tataki. Both were small but good for the price and quality.
The atmosphere is pleasant with both indoor and outdoor seating. Mary Brickell Village is a nice spot with shops and other restaurants.
I also ordered the Doraku Ceviche from the main menu. It’s more expensive than the lunch menu but has more food and is more interesting. It includes a variety of fish and was definitely the best part of a good meal.
Doraku Ceviche
Two other things to mention: the waiter described it as “tapas style” which is accurate. And I was pleased to encounter a staff member who is actually from Japan in a Japanese restaurant. Doraku was started by the son of Rocky Aoki of Benihana fame. The acorn did not fall too far from the tree.
It’s a long drive from West Boca but if you’re going to be in Miami, it’s worth a visit.

Taso's Greek Restaurant in West Boca: New Location

Taso’s Greek Taverna of Delray just opened a brand spanking new location in the Westwinds of Boca plaza on the southeast corner of Glades and 441. This is a welcome addition to the area.
The lunch and dinner menus offer a variety of items including soups, salads, wraps and platters. The dinner menu has a kids section as well.  A sampling of their gyro platter and greek salad was delicious. I also recommend the baklava. The ambiance is very nice and the prices are reasonable. Check it out!
For another good choice of Greek food in Boca Raton (especially West Boca), consider Jimmy the Greek Restaurant on Glades just west of the Turnpike, which is larger but could use a refresh of its interior decor.