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5.12

THE FOOD ISSUE CULTURE

DINING ENTERTAINMENT

FASHION

FITNESS

LIFESTYLE

NIGHTLIFE


, IT S ALL

ABOUT

the

FOOD.

Drew’s Devilishly Delicious Fried Chicken Sandwich YOU CAN THANK US LATER.

Charlotte EpiCentre • 704-716-WING • w w w. w i l d w i n g c a f e. c o m


Life’s NewesT Bar Too shorT To eaT oPeNiNG Bad Pizza souTheNd’s

iN MaY

serViNG LaTe NiGhT TiLL 2aM eVerY NiGhT

Staten Island Pizza Comes To Charlotte Appetizers - Salads Pasta - Entries

18 Beers On Tap 30+ Bottle Beers 13 TV’S | Bar Menu Outdoor Dining Easy Light Rail Access Plenty Of Parking Sunday - Saturday 11AM - 2AM 2000 South Blvd. Charlotte, NC 28203 704.332.6076


:) CLT SmileCharlotte.com

scan code for a smile


Join Table 274 for Mother’s Day Brunch beginning at 10am. Serving our full Brunch Menu with Brunch Specials and live jazz from Nita B and Bill Buck Jazz Duo. $4.00 Bellini and Bloody Mary’s. Serving America Cuisine with a Carolina influence.

VOTED BEST NEW RESTAURANT 2011 – Elevate Lifestyle Awards OpenTable.com Diners’ Choice Winner 2012 Voted Best Burger by Creative Loafing - Editors Pick

Mon 11am - 9pm | Tues - Thurs 11am - 10pm | Fri - Sat 11am - 11pm Brunch on Sundays 10am - 9pm Cotswold Shopping Center - Located behind Toys and Company 274 South Sharon Amity Road, Charlotte, NC 28211 704.817.9721 | Table274.com


Hey Charlotte, Wanna Smile?

$95

Dental Cleaning, Full Mouth X-Rays, and Comprehensive Exam (Value up to $313) ar *New patients only. Extended by popul demand! Purchase by June 1, 2012. scan code for a smile

facebook.com/smilecharlotte.dentistry

:) CLT


A new bar, a new look, and a new menu to make your experience with us even more enjoyable. Tuscan Fare, Local Flair...Enjoy! Monday: $5 Well Drinks Tuesday: $2 All Drafts Wednesday: $2 Domestics, $3 Premiums and Imports Thursday: 1/2 Priced Bottles of Wine and $5 Select Cocktails Friday: 1/2 Priced Appetizers Saturday: Sangria Saturdays With $5 Sangria (Red and White) Sunday: $5 Bloody Mary’s, Mimosas and Bellinis

306 S. Sharon Amity Road, Charlotte NC 28211 704.362.3731 BluBasil.com


CHARLOTTE’S BEST CLUBS

AT THE BEST PRICE!

14

$

.99

mOnTH

nO COnTRACT get a free 3-day guest pass on our website

jOIn OnLInE sportsandfitnessclubs.com

704.332.4500

7 LOCATIOnS

rethink fitness.


Grilled, shredded, ground...bring your appetite. Salsarita’s offers your Fresh-Mexican favorites, made the way you want, right in front of your eyes. NEED TO FEED A CROWD? Try our convenient catering service - It’s freshness on wheels!

Introducing Our New casaRito “The Saucy Burrito” Your favorite burrito covered in warm, spicy tomatillo salsa, creamy queso or robust ranchero sauce.

COTSWOLD VILLAGE SHOPS 304 S. Sharon Amity Rd. Charlotte, NC 28211 Ph. 704-442-0655 Open M-SAT 11-9PM SUN 11-8PM CALL 704-622-2167 FOR CATERING!

COTSWOLD VILLAGE

Visit www.salsaritas.com for one of our other 16 Charlotte-Area locations


RESERVE NOW FOR MOTHER’S DAY

AREAS OF SERVICE Half-hour and hourly city tours - call for rates center city, southend, Nc Music factory, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Wards. RATES VARY UPON DISTANCE all major credit cards accepted on marked cabs; american express, Discover, Mastercard and VIsa. Minimum charges may apply. SPECIAL SERVICES AVAILABLE Birthday Parties | engagements | Weddings Bachelor & Bachelorette Parties | Holidays events all time Warner arena events HOURS OF OPERATION thursday 7pm - Midnight friday & saturday 7pm - 2am or By appointment 7 Days a Week To “Go Green” With PEDICAB

call 980.263.7647


publisher’s note I want to thank everyone for coming out to our Fifth Annual Elevate Lifestyle Awards Celebration at Hyatt House Hotel on Wednesday, April 4. A good time was had by all the winners and their guests. I hope all is well with everyone; this month’s issue is our annual “Dining Guide,” so if you’re not hungry now you will be after you read about some of the newest restaurants in Charlotte. But don’t fill up too much on all this great grub because we have the insight on some of the most delicious yogurt and cupcakes in Charlotte. Now with the nice spring weather it’s the perfect time for Alive After 5 at the EpiCentre Pavilion and MET Live at the Metropolitan on Thursdays, and to round your week out on Fridays is Friday LIVE! at the Factory and Concerts In The Round at Piedmont Town Center. There’s more fun to be had as well. On Thursday, May 10 we are heading south to go see the Charlotte Knights play, with a pre-party at Dilworth Neighborhood Grill. Then Wednesday, May 16 is our monthly Bar-B-Q, Bourbon, and Beer event at Queen City Q. The next day on Thursday, May 17 is our Annual Chipping Fore Charity Golf Classic and then on Wednesday, May 23 we are heading out to see the Dave Matthews concert with a pre-party kicking off at Zucca Pizza Tavern. To stay up-to-date on all these events and more, you can always check out our event calendar at ElevateLifestyle.com. Have a great Memorial Weekend! Until next month, Steve Caldwell


Mondays $3 pint night w/ 24 beers on tap Weekend Fresh Local Food Specials Brunch Saturdays & Sundays 10am - 3pm

704.333.7989 | 118 West Fifth St. | Charlotte 28202

DandelionMarketCharlotte.com Dandelion Market


TEAM MEMBERS Publisher Steve Caldwell, Steve@ElevateLifestyle.com Editor: Edy Hinson Creative Director: Greg Smith Design and Production: Greenspon Advertising All About The Shoes Photo Spread and Cover Photography Photography: Jim Merrill, JMT Photography JMTFoto.com Models: Emily Armstrong, Directions USA and Rhema Helms Makeup and Hair: Emily Page and Angela Rabon | Styling: Emily Denby Shoes: Heels.com | Wardrobe: Urban Outfitters, Hollister, Forever 21, and American Eagle Femme Fatale Photo Spread Photography: Ryan Sumner, Fenix Fotography FenixFoto.com Styling and Hair: Jennifer Misenheimer, Escape Salon Location: Tryon House, T R Lawing Models: Ashley, Emily, Jen, Kat, Marcus, Max, Vinnie, and Scott Makeup: Emily Page Wardrobe: Emartini, Frock Shop, Hong Kong, Revolve, and Sloan Advertising, Sponsorship, Website Sales, and General Advertising Sales Information Brad Cheek | John Hamrick | Steve Caldwell Contributing Editors Culture Editor: Louise Albano-Hurley | Dining Editor: Nikki Wilson Entertainment Editor: Denise Gregory | Fashion Editor: Debra Kennedy Fitness Editor: Dr. Ryan Shum | Nightlife Editor: Sean Flynn Contributing Writers Alison Penland | Angela Han | Claire Cilip | Corinna Kahn Laela Karimi | Lisa Lemaster | Sarah Hudson | Stanley Owings | TekaRose Contributing Photographers Eun Park | Jeaumane McIntosh | John Hamrick Lazyday.com | Justin Smith Interns Alex Ramsey | Anna Starnes | Jeaumane McIntosh


Thursday, May 17Th 2012 CharloTTe Golf links shoT Gun sTarT aT 1pM - CapTain’s ChoiCe reGisTraTion fee $400 for a foursoMe: inCludes CarT & Green fees, adulT BeveraGes all day, lunCh on Golf CarT, and 19Th hole awards CeleBraTion wiTh dinner. sponsorships are availaBle sTarTinG aT $200 ConTaCT Bo Maney aT BManey@BTlf.orG ready To play, siGn up now aT elevaTelifesTyle.CoM


Contents May 2012 22 Culture

Charlotte Liberty Walk

22

26 30 34

38

38 44 50

50

Entertainment 5th and York Fashion How To Be A Fashionista Traveler FITNESS Sports & Ftiness Clubs Lifestyle Hottest Travel Destinations Of 2012 Nightlife Bottoms Up! Lifestyle Femme Fatale

102 Fashion

All About The Shoes


The fee is $20 per person and Includes: Ride to and concert, specials at the pre party and free beer and liquor on the bus on the way up. Less than the cost of gas and parking. *doesn’T IncLude conceRT TIckeT

Limited space Available This event sales out every Year early! To Reserve Your seat now Go To Ticketssoeasy.com/dM


THE FOOD ISSUE

60

60 Neighborhood Favorite 64 Pisces Sushi Bar & Lounge 68 Queen City Q

68

72 Modern, Comfortable, and Addictive?

78 Zucca Pizza Tavern 86 Unique and

Uncommonly Tasty

92

92 All Hail FroYo!


“The Winners Are Revealed” Friday, June 15th 8pm - 11pm ElevateLifestyle.com


Charlotte Knights vs. Buffalo Bisons thursday, May 10th Pre-Party from 5pm-6:30pm

$20 Per Person Includes: TRANSPORTATION, BURGER OR BRAT AT DIlwORTh NEIGhBORhOOD GRIllE BEERS AND DRINKS ON BUS, FIElD BOX TICKET Buy your ticket NOw and reserve your spot on the bus!! limited Seats Are Available | TicketsSoEasy.com/CltKnights

elevatelifestyle.com


culture

Charlotte Liberty Walk Patterned after Boston’s Historic Freedom Trail, Charlotte’s Liberty Walk takes visitors to 15 Revolutionary War sites in uptown Charlotte and the nearby areas. Slated for a May 20th opening—the 237th anniversary of the day the leaders of Mecklenburg County adopted the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. The walk promises history, technology and art to those that call Charlotte home.


The stops on the tour include sites that spurred British General Cornwallis to refer to the city as the “hornets’ nest” of rebellion toward the end of the eighteenth century. These include the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, Cook’s Inn and the British Encampment of 1780. During the time of the revolution in the fall of 1780, 4,000 officers, soldiers, loyalists and laborers of the British army found themselves encamped at what was then the courthouse and what is now the center of our city, the intersection of Trade and Tryon Streets. Four cannons were set up at these crossroads, but the Liberty walk’s marker for the British Encampment will be found at its southern part, where the cavalry and Loyalists militia were located. Following this site and the next for the Battle of Charlotte, visitors will come to the marker denoting the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. On May 20, 1775 Mecklenburg county and its citizens became the first political entity in the American colonies to declare themselves independent of British Parliamentary rule. The treaty was signed by elected representatives at the county courthouse, which was again at the intersection of today’s Trade and Tryon Streets. Visitors will find the complete text of the declaration on a plaque at this site. It’s interesting to note that our own declaration of independence preceded the U.S. Declaration of Independence by more than a year. Cook’s Inn provides an historical, yet humorous stop on the walk. In 1791, on a tour of the southern states, President George Washington spent the night in Charlotte, entertained by Colonel Thomas Polk and lodged at Cook’s Inn, the location of which we can find on West Trade Street today. As the story goes, when the President departed in the morning, he left behind a box of white wig powder, a common item at that time, and for years after, Mrs. Cook would put some of the powder on her children’s hair, telling them to always remember they had President Washington’s powder on their hair. What separates this historic tour from the myriad out there is its use of technology and art to enliven history and make it highly accessible in the modern age. Local artist Dan Nance has coupled with HandHeldHistory to create interactive video footage for each site. HHH has created an application using GPS tracking technology that will track

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Settler’s Cemetery

Hearst Tower

11

12

Time Warner Cable Arena

Blumenthal Performing Arts Center

First Presbyterian Church

9

Marriott Independence City Center Center

8 Carillon

(1775 – 1780)

Capital Grille

10

LY

Historic Sites

Discovery Place

Carillon Park

Bank of America Corporate Center

15

6 129 W. Trade

13

Founders Hall

14

Omni Hotel

5

112 S. Tryon

Ritz-Carlton Hotel

Epicenter

4

200 S. Tryon

3 Marriott Courtyard

2 1

Wells Fargo Plaza

Charlotte Chamber

1.

Liberty Hall DAR Marker

2.

Queen’s College

3. 4. 5.

6.

Thomas Polk Park

11. Line of Patriot’s Retreat - Graham

your location on the tour and download the video specific to that site & Davies 7. Cook’s Inn directly to any iPhone, iPad or other handheld electronic This in 12. Queendevice. Charlotte Statue Site of British Camp 8. Captain Jack Homesite 13. Brevard andof Charlotte of itself presents a 9.unique blending andHomesite the historic. Battle State Historical First Presbyterian Churchof the modern Marker 14. Thomas Polkthe Homesite 10. Settler’swhich Cemetery,initiated History of and developed Charlotte’s May 20th Society, Liberty Independence Square Charlotte markers, founders’ 15. Nathanael Greene State Historical Walk project, has also developed a T.way the past with the gravesites including Polk to collide Marker present by allowing us to experience history through modern means. CharlotteLibertyWalk.com | Facebook.com/CharlotteLibertyWalk

Walkers can trace these sites through a round, granite marker engraved with artist Chas Fagan’s bronze equestrian statue on the Little Sugar Greenway, known as The Spirit of Mecklenburg. With the onset of clear weather and summer breezes, take advantage of this new addition to Charlotte and learn more about our art and our history with a tour of the Charlotte Liberty Walk. Culture Editor, Louise Albano-Hurley

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IT’S ALL PHAT. IT’S ALL GOOD. All Ingredients Made Fresh Daily | Full Line Of Domestics and Imports Large Patio | Phreedom FIST T-Shirts Are Back

14th Year Anniversary Celebration

Register To Win Burrito’s For A Year & Flat Screen TV. $5 Donation - Proceeds To Benefit Habitat For Humanity SUMMER HOURS NOW OPEN LATER 7 Days 7 Night | Mon. - Thurs. 11am - 9pm Fri. - Sat. 11am - 10:30pm | Sun. 11am - 8pm 1537 Camden Road | Charlotte NC 28203 704.332.PHAT (7428) | PhatBuritto.com


entertainment

5th and York The local scene is abundant with hidden, original talent, such as the smooth jazz sensation of 5th and York. Over the past few years, they’ve opened for famous acts and dropped their first album, “Nascentum.� The title, like the band, refers to a developing new sound. After listening to the dark, sultry and energetic tracks off this album that are reminiscent of late nights and classy martini bars, I can say this six-piece band has a lot of passion. In April, I had the opportunity to sit down with Derwin Friday (saxophone) and Dewarren Tate (bass) to talk about their music.


EL: How long have you been playing or somehow involved in the music scene? Dewarren: I think we all have 30-plus years in. EL: How did you meet? Derwin: We met at a wedding, and then we started playing at church together. This band I was playing in was a Dave Matthews cover band [called Two Step], and they fired their bass player. I thought, “I know a bass player,” so I decided it’d be a great idea for me and [Tate] to go on the road. We spent about four years in that band - but we’d always wanted to do jazz. EL: You were influenced by bands of the 70s and 80s. What were some of those bands? Dewarren: Earth, Wind and Fire; Gap Band; The Times; Prince; The Yellowjackets; Dave Matthews; Miles Davis; Grover Washington - that list could go on. EL: What was it like recording an album? Derwin: We did everything ourselves. Not only did we write, produce, and play, but we also recorded it ourselves in a home studio with absolutely no production budget. Luckily, we had a good friend who is an engineer. Dewarren: We learned a lot about each other. Somebody in the band was together all the time. We found out what buttons not to push, but at the end of the day, we still loved each other just the same. It made us tighter as a band. That was the good thing about doing everything in-house. EL: What was it like opening for Earth, Wind and Fire? Dewarren: It was epic and a little nerve-wracking. Derwin: It was a milestone for us. It was amazing - and it was the first time we’d had all that production. EL: Thru the Nite sounds different from the other songs. It has a quiet storm vibe to it. So what are some of your inspirations for that kind of R&B? Derwin: We did that song to be more commercial because we realized a lot of the music we were doing probably wasn’t going to cross over. So we stepped outside ourselves a little just to do that song. The

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world has become a smaller place with all the technology and communication. You have to be able to rub elbows with everyone. “Thru the Nite,” was our attempt to appeal to people who are used to classic R&B. It’s funny when you say quiet storm because Mr. Preston Miles from the Love Zone [on V 101.9] actually laid the vocals on that one. EL: Covers are a big part of what you do. How do you recreate songs with your style? Dewarren: It just happens. We learn it the way it was written, but when we step onstage to play it, all that goes out the window. Derwin: We’ll take the concept and change a chord here and there, but you can still find the melody. EL: A lot of new music doesn’t have soul. Do you think we’re on the brink of a musical revolution? Derwin: I think we’re at the point when enough is enough. People are going back. For example, the Foo Fighters’ new CD was recorded in a garage on eight-millimeter tape. It was voted for the Best Rock Album. Last year, Esperanza Spalding won Best New Artist. So I feel we’re at the point where innovation is coming back. Music is cyclical. EL: Last words or advice? Dewarren: Being defeated is a temporary situation. Quitting is what makes it permanent. For more information, find them at www.5thandyork.com or follow them on Twitter at @5thAndYork. Sarah Hudson

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22


fashion

HOW TO BE

A FASHIONISTA

TRAVELER WITH A CARRY-ON BAG

With the TSA’s rule of allowing only three-ounce or smaller bottles of liquid in carry-on bags on flights these days, our beauty regimes have been compromised. Hotels usually have shampoo, conditioner and lotions on hand

but not our preferred brands that keep our hair from looking frizzy. And what

about our skincare that keeps our faces looking fresh and our eye lines puffy free? Can this really fit into a three-ounce bottle?


The airlines may have thrown a wrench into our beauty routines but not our fashionista flair. Travel basics are here to save the day. You can throw everything you need for a four-day trip in your favorite travel bag and you look so fabulous and chic you won’t even remember you have to use the scaled down version of your beauty products. Keeping it simple with a few fashion pieces that can work for any occasion is the key. Here are the basics you will need to pack: • Simple Black Dress - (polyester/rayon blend) • Blazer/Jacket in a solid bold color • Designer Jeans • Solid White Button-Down Shirt and a Solid Knit Top • Black pants or leggings • Walking Shorts/skirt • Swimsuit/Cover-up • Accessories including gold hoops, a few scarves and several long necklaces • Sandals • A pair of wedges With these 10 basic pieces you can mix and match and have up to 10 different looks without compromising style. Finding articles of clothing that travel well will make your life less complicated and allow you more time to enjoy your long weekend. If you’re flying to Europe, vacationing in the Caribbean or visiting Savannah, these basics will take you from morning brunch to afternoon adventure and even five-star dining without skipping a beat. Gone are the days of multiple suitcases. The “it” travel mode is making it work in my carry-on and this is how you do it. Safe Travels to All of My Fashionista Friends. Send me an e-mail at debra@debrakennedyshow and let me know how your 10 basic pieces worked for you. Until Next Time. Fashion Editor, Debra A. Kennedy

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Come Check Out Our Newly Renovated Dining Room and Expanded Lounge Area! CHARLOTTE’S BEST UPSCALE JAPANESE SUSHI BAR AND LOUNGE Now Serving Sushi Till 2am Friday and Saturday

Please call 704.334.0009 to make your reservation now! Mon. - Wed. 11:30am - 10:30pm | Thur. 11:30am - 12am Fri. 11:30am - 2am | Sat. 12pm - 2am | Sun. 4:30pm - 10pm

1100 E Metropolitan Ave S120

P i s c e s S u s h i . c o m


fitness

A Charlotte-born Small Business Fitness Success: Sports & Fitness Clubs In this issue, we are taking some time to profile a popular fitness entity in the city, Sports & Fitness Clubs of Charlotte. With seven locations around town, and continual growth on the way, Sports & Fitness is a recognizable gym and fitness center but there is more to their story. Like many in Charlotte, Evan Miller was new to Charlotte once upon a time and worked in banking. With a perpetual lifelong passion for soccer, Miller played his whole life. However, when moving to Charlotte, Miller could not find a decent indoor place to play. He began to create plans for an indoor multi-sports and recreation center and have one built for Charlotte. During lunch hours and outside of his time working at the banks of Uptown, Miller would devote time for planning. He would spend all his time accumulating and analyzing research, building his business plan and model while meeting with other passionate investors. In this era prior to the readily accessible Internet and digital media/information, Miller tirelessly spent overtime in the


libraries of Charlotte. He would eventually leave banking to make a splash on the fitness and athletic scene in the city. Miller would end up building an 85,000-square-foot indoor sports facility called Charlotte Sports Center. With challenges like any new business venture, the evolution would eventually lead to Sports & Fitness. The long-time Charlotte Sports Center has recently been renamed Sports & Fitness, and Sports Connection. The latest addition and re-modeling has been the inception of a Family Entertainment Center. From this original site, Sports & Fitness was born almost by default. With access to space and resources, the Charlotte-born small business start-up naturally grew from two original fitness locations at Northlake and Ballantyne in 2009. By February 2010, there were six locations with a seventh addition at Indian Trail this past December of 2011. The Uptown location has recently received all new equipment, as has the Northlake location with a new re-modelling. Sports & Fitness aims to do everything with transparency, creating a unique approach to accessibility for the active population in Charlotte. For example, all pricing is posted online including the ability to purchase. The goal is to remove a “sales office� atmosphere. There are simply two options: a single club basic amenities option ($14.99/ month) or an all club/location,

35


all amenities access ($19.99/month) that includes access to fitness, classes and childwatch. Aiming for convenience, the single club, basic amenities option is a “no-contract” membership. One Free Personal training session is available to all new members. The approach to Sports & Fitness stems from the founder’s vision: a straight-forward approach to business, fitness and sports. Both Miller and his marketing director, Tonya Anderson agree: “We love creating a good quality product/service and delivering it for our members every time. Buying a gym membership should not be like purchasing a car. It is not complicated and you certainly should not need exceptional negotiation skills to buy one. We look to offer an exceptional product at a great price.”

Looking ahead to the future, both Miller and Anderson acknowledge, “We have beautiful facilities, great new equipment and friendly staff. However, we are always looking at opportunities for growth, such as new clubs. Most importantly, it all has to make good business sense.” For more information on Sports & Fitness of Charlotte, you can reach them at www.sportsandfitnessclubs.com Yours in health and fitness, Fitness Editor, Dr. Ryan Shum

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lifestyle

HOTTEST TRAVEL

DESTINATIONS OF 2012

Americans travel more and more each year, and realizing the importance of time off together, “splurging� a bit becomes somewhat warranted. The most difficult task is deciding where your destination spot will be. My recommendations will make even the pickiest traveler happy.


PERFECT PARADISE – SANCTUARY CAP CANA Sanctuary Cap Cana is the “it” destination resort and is considered to be the crown jewel of the Dominican Republic. In my opinion, The Sanctuary is the most stunning hotel in the Caribbean. The 176-suite oceanfront resort offers a variety of choices. Each includes marble baths, fine linens, and silk bathrobes and slippers. The breathtaking view of the Caribbean is what you awake to and the beauty continues as you enjoy any of the five swimming pools, one filled with saltwater and a full-service spa. Endless choices of upscale dining and world class five-star service from the moment you wake to the turn down service when you retire is why it is called Sanctuary. You are pampered and treated like royalty the moment you arrive. If you want to “splurge” and feel as if you are getting your money’s worth, Sanctuary Cap Cana is your golden ticket. A few highlights: The architecturally stunning Blue Marlin Restaurant, perched above the Caribbean Sea on stilts has amazing seafood and the most romantic view. A golfer’s heaven at the Jack Nicklaus Signature Punta Espada Golf Club. A Honeymoon Suite in the Castle with a pool of your very own, a view of the Caribbean and world class service at your beck and call. With a direct flight now being offered from Charlotte to Dominican Republic, you can plan your vacation to the world’s greatest new destination and relax in your very own Sanctuary. (www.grandresortsatcapcana.com)

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MEDITERRANEAN PARADISE Located in Punta Cana, The Fishing Lodge is a beautiful Mediterranean Villagestyle resort surrounded by Cap Cana Marina. It has a South Beach Vibe and the one-, two- and three-bedroom villas come with full kitchens, locally-made furnishings, and private balconies with breathtaking views. This resort is a sister property to Sanctuary Cap Cana. Fishing Lodge will be a major entertainment attraction soon with the completion of over a dozen shops, a casino and several new restaurants. If you want a secret treasure before everyone else discovers the secret, here is your chance. Fishing Lodge is a unique experience where the locals are celebrated by use of hand-crafted furniture as well as many of the light fixtures (crafted from old bottles of Presidente, the area’s local beer) throughout the property. If you are looking for a different type of destination where you can enjoy an array of amenities, amazing dining, three bars, four pools, a sixteenth-century-style wedding chapel, a state-of-the-art fitness center and a Mediterranean seaside setting without spending a fortune, this destination is for you. (www.grandresortatcapcana.com) or call 866-855-4886. MAGICAL FAMILY FUN – DISNEY SWAN AND DOLPHIN For those who want to enjoy a little magic and family fun, Orlando is the magical spot for many reasons. Whatever your age, Disney brings out the “kid” in all of us. Finding the perfect resort is also magical. Disney Swan and Dolphin is the #1 choice for many reasons. From the beautiful surroundings to the superior service, this luxurious resort is prime location for your every need. In the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort, the award-winning Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin is your gateway to Central Florida’s greatest theme parks and attractions – namely Disney World! Nestled in between Epcot and Hollywood Studios you can visit any of the parks with ease. Enjoy complimentary scheduled transportation around the Walt Disney World Resort. At the end of the day, you can relax in your heavenly bed with a pillow-top mattress for a perfect retreat for rest and relaxation. Or you may want to enjoy fireworks from your balcony and celebrate the magic before you retire.

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With five heated pools and the wonderful whirlpools, fountains and waterfalls all nestled in an exotic tropical environment, you’ll find the perfect spot to relax in the shade or get a fabulous tan in the sun. There are quiet alcoves for those who prefer a private oasis and more lively areas for those who love the entertainment aspect. There is also a beautiful white sand beach which is quiet and peaceful and you can walk to the nearby BoardWalk and Yacht and Beach Club for more adventure. Disney’s Swan and Dolphin also offers 17 distinctive restaurants including Shula’s Steak House (my personal favorite) and Todd English’s Bluezoo as well as anything you could possibly want. At the Mandara Spa, you will be pampered and spoiled in the signature Balinese style architecture. The spa visit is an adventure both sensory and physical as you explore the Tea Gardens unique “Asian Bale” and the Meditation Garden’s signature “Meru Temple.” These two beautiful interior gardens provide exotic retreats as you await your spa service. This is an unforgettable experience with a magical setting surrounded by the paradise that is the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. If you are looking for the perfect magical vacation in Orlando, Disney’s Swan and Dolphin will be the perfect fit – just like Cinderella’s glass slipper. (www. swandolphin.com) BAHAMAS ON THE WATERS If you are looking for a fun vacation but need to watch your budget, Carnival Cruise Line has a five-day cruise that ports out of Charleston, S.C. and is a steal of a deal. For the price of a two-night stay in a resort, you can enjoy five full days on the ship with stops in Nassau and Freeport. The fun in this experience is the days at sea by the pool, limitless activities and unlimited food which is an amazing all-for-one low price. Within driving distance and easy on the budget, Carnival Fantasy is truly a fantasy. (carnival.com) Safe and happy travels and enjoy your perfect destination vacation. Let me know what you think of my recommendations and enjoy. Please e-mail me at debra@debrakennedyshow.com Debra Kennedy

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EAT WELL | DRINK WELL | LIVE WELL

Thank you for Voting “Zen Fusion BEST Tapas Bar” in Elevate Lifestyle Awards 2012

Join us for Live Music Every Wednesday and Thursday Nights   Drink Specials Sunday-Thursday

1716 Kenilworth Avenue | Charlotte, NC 28203 Historical Dilworth | 704.358.9688 | ZenAsianFusion.com


nightlife

Bottoms Up! It’s the dining issue. Dining consists of drinking, and drinking consists of beer for most of us. And the beer selection in Charlotte has just grown like the Panther fan base since Newton landed. I remember when I used to get excited about getting new micromachines back in the day. Now I get excited about getting new micro breweries -local ones too! These breweries are showing up everywhere like crack in the 80’s. Available on every side of town, and everyone’s hooked! The list of these new breweries is as about as long as my honey-do list since being laid off from my job -- yes I’m currently unemployed and accepting free beers at any of these tap rooms! That’s right, these tap rooms are different than the shady room you and your roomies used at the frat house when bagging a one-nighter. These tap rooms connected to the breweries provide somewhere unique to chill and sip their masterpieces. Don’t fear the beer, these beers are being offered at restaurants and bars throughout the


Photography by Jeaumane McIntosh

QC. So when you’re out dining ask for a local brew -- there are plenty of brands and flavors to choose from. Ninety-nine flavors and a domestic aint one - no offense Miller Light, I still love you. Here’s a list of what’s out now and soon will be. So bottoms up, bottoms down, pass the growler around! NoDa Brewing NoDa Brewing Company opened its doors to us fall of last year and is one of Charlotte’s newest home-grown microbreweries for beer lovers in the Carolinas. You have probably heard the buzz and even caught a buzz from their Coco Loco. This Robust Porter has chocolate and brown malts that make a rich, bold color that will have you wanting to sip it before, during and after dinner -- hell, when you wake up for breakfast. NoDa Brewing is a 15-barrel brewery that creates the highest quality beers for local restaurants and pubs, as well as an open aired tap room where you can see the brewery right behind the bar! Food is available outside in the parking lot with Charlotte’s best food trucks who set up shop here. A few TV’s are in the Tap Room so you can catch a game along with loud, good music if you will. Expect a large crowd here after work and definitely try their seasonal rare white IPA Ghost Hop! 2229 North Davidson St., Charlotte | 704.233.7071 NodaBrewing.com Birdsong Brewing Keeping it in the hood and actually right across from NoDa Brewing is Birdsong Brewing. This husband and wife duo graciously brought their concept here at the same time as their neighbors. Their spring seasonal brew “Up On The Sun Sasion,” speaks for its self. A SUPERB spring and/or summer blend. At 7.5 ABV, you won’t feel the sun after a few of these. At Birdsong you can take in some fresh air while you take in the fresh beer on their covered patio. Birdsong has no intentions of getting larger than life and want to focus on the QC and the surrounding areas. The tap room is even decked out with artwork from local Noda artists which they plan to rotate with different local artists. Birdsong is currently chirping at over 30 restaurants and bars in town, so ask for a pour. Try a Free Will Pale Ale too while you’re here. 2315 North Davidson St., Charlotte | 704.332.1810 BirdSongBrewing.com

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Photography by Jeaumane McIntosh

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Four Friends Brewing God I love Dubbel D’s! - what? I’m talking about Four Friends seasonal that was recently launched. Four Friends Brewery is located in South Charlotte but been can be found in bars and restaurants everywhere in the QC. You have probably seen their most popular blend, “I-77,” behind bars in town -- as you should! I have taken this highway to the dome about as many times as I have driven on it. FFB has been around since 2007 and are in and around Charlotte at close to 100 locations. They are not hard to miss and shouldn’t be. FFB promotes beer at gigs throughout the city often, so follow them on Twitter and hop to their hops. 10913-C Office Park Dr., Charlotte | 704233.7071 FourFriendsBrewing.com The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery OMB’s tap handles at bars and restaurants are starting to be a staple in this town. This 30,000-square-foot brewery and outside Biergarten is located right outside Southend in south Charlotte. There are plenty of places to sit back and enjoy a few Mecklenburgers here and around


the city. Mecklenburgers are a great refresher for the spring and summer. OMB’s popular Copper is a hit too, which is an authentic Düsseldorf style “Altbier.” Basically for the non-beer geeks out there it’s a very tasty lagered ale. OMB offers seasonal and even a Thanksgiving and Christmas brew around the holidays. You dress for the weather so you need to drink for the weather, right? Be sure to try their seasonal Captain Jack this spring! 215 Southside Dr., Charlotte | 704.525.5644 OldeMeckBrew.com

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery Rock Bottom is part of CraftWorks Restaurants and Breweries and has been located in the heart of downtown Charlotte for years. Enjoy award-winning ales and lagers, good cuisine and wood-fired pizza within walking distance to all the city’s attractions and Time Warner Arena. Sweet Magnolia Brown Ale and Iron Horse Stout are both award-winning brews and are well worth a sip or three. Rock Bottom features a working brewery, bar, billiards and private dining areas for groups and parties. The outdoor patio is one of Charlotte’s best spots for after work boozing and eating. Have a few of their poignant Stingin’ Brits IPA’s before you walk to a Bobcats game and it might make the game a lot easier to watch! 401 North Tryon St., Charlotte | 704.334.2739 RockBottomSouth.com Look out for some other new breweries and flavors to come out around town in the next few months. Heist Craft Brewery, Golden Cock Brewery and Kind Beer Distributing will all be touching our lips soon! Tap me harder- yeah that’s what Queen Charlotte said! Cheers! Nightlife Editor, Sean Flynn Any feedback or QC night life happenings you think are Elevate worthy that I should share with the QC? Email me at seanf@ElevateLifestyle.com

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dining

A Neighborhood Favorite Luminous in its quality, value and innovation, City Tavern is an established neighborhood favorite. The restaurant’s dedication to the customer radiates through their meticulous focus on food and service. With two locations flourishing, and an extra on its way, City Tavern is the epitome of how a restaurant should run. During the assiduous stress that’s inevitably associated with opening a restaurant, Elevate Lifestyle took time to sit down and discuss what to expect from City Tavern’s new Southpark location. EL: Where are you originally from? CT: Right outside NYC in Yonkers, NY. EL: When did you open your first restaurant? CT: When I was 22 I opened up a small breakfast /lunch diner.


Photography by Jeaumane McIntosh

EL: What will the new location offer? CT: The new location is the nicest yet. The patio overlooks the Symphony Park and Charlotte sky line. I believe that we are offering Southpark an upscale, friendly atmosphere with value pricing not found in Southpark. EL: Can you describe the new renovations? CT: They’re rather extensive—we opened up the dining room, doubled the size of the bar, more than doubled the size of the patio, added fire pits to the patio. The look we went after is very California. Lively colors and comfortable. EL: What do you hope City Tavern will bring to the SouthPark neighborhood? CT: We are hoping to be the neighborhood restaurant. Over 13 years, people have frequented City Tavern as a great place for numerous reasons and occasions. Our food is as good as anyone’s and the great price allows guests to visit us for brunch, lunch, dinner and special occasions. We have three private dining rooms for business functions, rehearsal dinners or intimate receptions. EL: What’s your favorite dish to cook? CT: Not one dish, but Italian food. I learned to cook in an Italian kitchen and it has always been my favorite cuisine to cook and experiment with. EL: How do you get inspired as a chef? CT: I get inspired by new and creative items. A chef that I trained under once said, “There is nothing new about food, it’s all about a chef’s personal twist that he adds to it.” EL: How would you describe the food? CT: We call the menu at City Tavern “comfort food and crave items.” Although we have some items that you will find on a lot of menus, we also have items such as our sea bake and lobster nachos, and blackened seafood and Lobster Ravioli entrée that once you try you will probably think about and crave. Our meatloaf is said to be the best around as well. EL: The menus offer a variety of favorites with a sophisticated twist. What brought on the idea? CT: The ideas for the City Tavern menu have been inspired by years of outside influences and ideas to create a menu that is not the ordinary place in every city.

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EL: Would you say the menus are catered specifically to Charlotte, with the fusion of tradition and innovation? CT: Our menu fits Charlotte well. There are so many transplants in Charlotte that we feel we can satisfy people from various backgrounds. We get a lot of compliments from New Yorkers and Bostonians. EL: Will the new location offer any new items on the menu? CT: Yes we do have some new items for Southpark, Our stuffed portabella mushroom, charcuterie plate, and braised short ribs. The braised short ribs are Chef Andy’s addition and… are fall-off-the-bone delicious. EL: City Tavern offers daily food and drink specials. Which specials should be bookmarked? CT: We try to make City Tavern affordable. We do half price bottles of wine in Southpark on Mondays as well as half price build-your-own burgers, and $21 lobster tails. Half-price martinis and Prime Rib for $1.25 per oz. on Tuesdays. Half-price appetizers on Thursdays along with a petite filet mignon or salmon plate for $10,(at the bar only). Plus, drink specials every day! EL: How do you go about choosing and refining the wine and martini list? CT: We try to stay ahead of the curve, introduce new items and maintain the staple items that always stay in demand. EL: What would you say is the best part of owning and running a restaurant? CT: It’s the people. Every night you are entertaining and seeing friends that just pop in on you. The food is my passion though. Consistently delivering quality food every night is fun and challenging. We care about every plate and every customer’s opinion. EL: With three different locations, how do you go about juggling all the work? CT: Good people assisting me is the key. You can’t do everything yourself, especially with three locations. I need to rely on my staff to strive for perfection as much as I do. EL: You’ve become quite successful in the restaurant industry. What are some key tips you’ve learned over the years? CT: Hire great people who strive for perfection and who have pride in what they do. Never let your standards down and come to the game every day to win! EL: Are there going to be any festivities/events for the opening of the new location? CT: Yes, two opening parties. I hope everyone got an invite! Angela Han

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dining

Pisces Sushi Bar & Lounge

Pisces Sushi Bar, located at 1100 E. Metropolitan Ave. Suite 120, or “the Met” as most call it, has recently extended their restaurant of fresh sushi cuisine into a lounge rivaling any after-hour hot spot. Pisces is carefully tucked away across the street from Trader Joe’s, but don’t let the size of their store-front fool you. Inside there is plenty of square footage with an architectural draw that most sushi places in Charlotte lack. There is a sense of elegance and exclusivity with their clandestine arch booths that allow you to eat in a privacy setting unique to most. The entrepreneurial and charismatic Bryan Li, co-owner of Pisces, talked with Elevate and shed some light on the newly acquired real estate.


Photography by Jeaumane McIntosh

Taking sushi cuisine and beverages to the next level has always been Pisces’ goal. Their menu is comparable to most, including an excellent all-you-can-eat lunch buffet priced at only $11.95, but it’s the modern and innovative touches that really separate Pisces from other restaurants in Charlotte. Take their avocado martini for example; Bryan describes it as an adult-like, alcoholic smoothie topped with homemade liquor-infused foam that is to-die for (trust us, we’ve tasted it).

Labor intensive cocktails are served with creative twists and inventive drinks like the “Cucumber Lady” and pomegranate Saki draw the crowds in. Bryan gives plenty of credit to his bartender, Bob Peters, for his experience behind the bar and imaginative skills when it comes to mixing drinks. Together with the Pisces team, the new lounge is proving to be a great spot to curb your sushi craving after a night out. Pisces certainly can accommodate, as they are open and serving sushi and drinks on Thursday till midnight and as late as 2 a.m. both 65


Friday and Saturday, making it an ideal destination for mingling with friends and upper scale night caps. The ambiance is balanced with the restaurant, tight red ropes woven throughout the space complement the black leather sofas and beautifully crafted bar that hosts over 40 bottles of wine and select beers, carefully chosen by the owners. They wanted their lounge to have a respectable array of beverages that are targeted toward wine and beer connoisseurs. They don’t have your average domestic bottles on hand, but rather brands like Highland Gaelic Ale, Yeti and Dogfish Head. Every decision Pisces makes about the restaurant or lounge seems to be in the interest of their patrons. The establishment is certainly proving that top shelf is their motto when rating anything from their chef specialties, drink menus and customer experience. Pisces’ weekly specials include half-price bottles of wine on Mondays, half priced martinis on Tuesdays, $5 cucumber martinis on Wednesdays and $3 Stoli drinks on Thursdays. The mood is light with eclectic music but Bryan says there is the possibility of having live music and a DJ in the near future. Whether it’s fresh sushi or fresh takes on classic cocktails that you crave, Pisces is the place to spend that well deserved night out. Clair Cilip

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dining

Queen City Q In the South, BBQ is a long hauled tradition that’s been perfected and passed down from generation to generation. Though the secret recipes are still unavailable to the public, the mouthwatering food is open to all at Queen City Q. Influenced from different parts of the state, Queen City Q offers four regional sauces that can satisfy every BBQ craving. The experts behind “Charlotte Q” took the time to explain how they got started, what goes into their food, and why they should become an Uptown favorite. EL: Are you a Charlotte native? QC: No, I moved here in 1985. EL: Growing up, did BBQ play a large role in your life? QC: Not really. I lived in Richmond, VA and did frequent Bill’s BBQ a lot, but I can’t say it was a big part of growing up. EL: Is this your first run in the restaurant business? QC: Yes.


EL: Why BBQ? QC: No specific reason. My wife and I were searching for something to start. We talked with several people, had a couple different plans that just didn’t feel right. Then all the pieces came together, met, John Duncan, space became available, his desire to “put the band back together” was a good idea so The Q was born. The band of course is the Chef and several of the original people from the kitchen at Mac’s Speed shop. EL: Can you describe what “Charlotte BBQ” is? QC: Our Queen City Q sauce makes it Charlotte Q. We have four sauces, the traditional South Carolina, Eastern N.C., Western N.C. and Queen City Sauce. The Queen City sauce is a blending of the Eastern and Western together. Our chef feels strongly that great BBQ is generally what you grew up on and love. That’s why we offer our rendition of the popular sauce styles as well as our own. EL: How does Queen City Q differ from other BBQ joints in the area? QC: We take great pride in the way we prepare our Q. We apply our special rub, let it sit overnight in the refrigerator, then smoke it for 16 hours. Then we hand-pull the pork making it ready to serve. EL: If you could describe the food in three words, what would they be? QC: Prepared with love. EL: You’re no stranger to good “Q.” What are your personal standards for good “Q?” QC: I expect the Q to be above warm but not hot when it hits the table. I like a little bark in my Q. Having the pork butts cure overnight with the rub on it allows the spices to get into the meat. When it smokes, this rub creates a crust (bark) that locks in the moisture and creates that ring look just inside the bark. Give me a sandwich with pulled pork having a little bark mixed in and let me sauce it to my taste and I’m in heaven. EL: What influenced the general aesthetic of the restaurant? QC: The credit goes to my wife for the look. She captured our concept of upscale casual. Our intent is to be a great BBQ place uptown that everybody can feel comfortable coming to despite what they are wearing.

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EL: Do the menu items/recipes have any sentimental background? QC: Most all the recipes are family recipes handed down to our Chef over the years. It’s fun to hang out with him when he is making a sauce, baked beans or another item as he talks about which family member created that recipe. EL: What’s your favorite dish? QC: I am a purist—I get the pulled pork and mac and cheese. On occasion I’ll add the edamame and corn salsa. EL: Does Queen City Q offer any daily specials? QC: We have drink specials daily. Tuesday is half price Pint night, Friday is $3 NC brewed draft beer. Happy hour Monday through Friday dine in only: 50 cent wings, $1.50 bones (ribs), $2.00 sliders, $2.00 tacos. EL: What would you say is the best part of opening/running a restaurant? QC: It’s been fun managing the challenges associated with hiring a lot of people quickly, lining up vendors and creating the buzz. Ok, I admit it, to me personally, it was all about the craft beer selection process. The Chef handled the kitchen. EL: Can you tell us about any future endeavors/expansions? QC: Our only plan at this point is to be the best BBQ place in the Uptown area. Our goal is to make sure everybody uptown puts on their weekly schedule of places to eat. Angela Han

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dining

Modern, Comfortable, and Addictive? You’re killing me Smalls! Well, Smalls isn’t literally killing me, but this new restaurant springing up in the fun and dynamic Elizabeth neighborhood of Charlotte has certainly created a menu to die for! From the Molasses Lacquered Pork Belly small plate, to the Crispy Chicken with salted caramel butter entrÊe, to the Chocolate Orbit Cake, Smalls has something to satiate any craving. The eatery focuses on providing guests with inspired cuisine, unparalleled service, and an environment that is purposefully addictive.


Elevate Lifestyle had the luxury to chat with Joseph DiLeo, the owner of this new go-to spot. Of course, we had to ask about the name of the restaurant and, as it turns out, Smalls has nothing to do with the classic film from the early 1990s. The name actually originated after the menu and floor plan were already decided upon. DiLeo explained that since the menu offers a variety of small plates and sliders, and the restaurant space is intimate, Smalls was the perfect fit. DiLeo, a native of Rochester, New York, has always been an entrepreneur at heart, but said he needed a change of scenery from his typical corporate job. “My next endeavor would be rooted in my twin passions of food and hospitality,” DiLeo said. But why Charlotte? During his previous career, DiLeo frequently traveled to Charlotte four to five times per year for about 10 consecutive years. “We love the people, the restaurants and found the business climate to be attractive,” he said. And the location couldn’t be better; Smalls is a short walk from Presbyterian Hospital, CPCC, and Queens University. Smalls focuses on supporting local and fresh ingredients. According to DiLeo, “Everything that can be made in-house is made in-house, [including] all the breads, pastas, fresh ground beef, daily soups, etc.” Continuing with the local emphasis, Smalls exclusively serves N.C. craft beer including Old Mecklenberg Brewery, Mother Earth, Catawba, Greenman, Foothills, Highland, Noda and Duckrabbit. “We truly wanted to support fellow local entrepreneurs, and the quality and taste of local [beers] are mountains above,” he said. The chef has even prepared six planter boxes at the restaurant to grow his own tomato plants, lettuce, and various herbs for daily use in a variety of dishes. Chef Zack Gadberry, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, follows the

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same vision as DiLeo. Gadberry gained experience in many fine dining establishments around Charlotte, such as Nobles and Customshop. He worked endlessly, along with DiLeo, researching and testing many recipes to finally choose the best 20 that landed on the menu. So we had to ask, what is the best dish on the menu? DiLeo undoubtedly exclaimed, “The eggplant stack – once tasted, you will have dreams about it!” But the amazing food and exceptional hospitality are not the only things Smalls has to offer. The restaurant plans on including live entertainment from local musicians, with no cover charge. Smalls has been illustrated as a ‘true joint’ by DiLeo; “The perfect combination of cuisine, people and vibe…classy yet undeniably comfortable.” Smalls also provides catering for both small and large events, and can customize a menu for any taste or budget. DiLeo also explained that he would not be concluding his entrepreneurial spirit with Smalls; in fact, his next endeavor has already started right next door. Smalls is actually only half of the 8,000 square feet of space in the location DiLeo chose. He plans on utilizing the other half to introduce yet another amazing concept to the neighborhood, The Elizabeth Fish & Oyster Company, which opens in late spring of this year. The new restaurant boasts “six types of oysters from around the country, fresh fish and shellfish, [and] house-made pasta – all served in an environment that screams, ‘Relax, you’re among friends.’” “We made the move and are enjoying every day of it!” said DiLeo, and Charlotte cannot wait to enjoy it too. You can get your hands on any of their mouthwatering dishes day or night; Smalls is located at 1609 Elizabeth Avenue and is open until 2 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and until 10 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday. For directions and additional information, visit their Web site at SmallsCharlotte.com. Laela Karimi

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dining

Zucca Pizza Tavern Taking a step back to yester-year, four high school buddies devised an idea to open a pizza joint. Fast-forward to the present, and what had started as a dream has finally sprouted into a reality. Zucca Pizza Tavern is the newest eatery in the Queen City. Their nostalgic aesthetic, friendly disposition, and delicious pizza will make them a neighborhood staple.


EL: Where are you originally from? ZP: I am originally from Staten Island, NY. EL: What got you into the restaurant business? ZP: I have been partners with Joe Romano, one of the founders of Zucca Pizza Tavern, in many business ventures since I graduated from UNCC in 1989. When he, John Gibney and Tim Langel, my other high school buddies, left Staten Island for Atlanta to operate another restaurant in 1998 we always stayed in contact. I’ve been hounding them to open a bar in Charlotte for about five years but the timing wasn’t right. With their background, experience and pizza, we believe that the timing is perfect to launch into this market. EL: Your restaurant dream was born when you and your buddies were in high school. Did you ever think the dream was going to become reality? ZP: I knew eventually I could convince them that Charlotte was a viable market and wasn’t going to take “no” for an answer forever. Once I was able to get them to visit Charlotte they all were impressed with the city and the opportunity. EL: How’s the transition going from fireman to restaurant owner? ZP: It’s going well. I hear that owning a restaurant involves putting out fires all the time so it should be exciting. I’m used to working 24 hour tours as a fireman and this has been no different. I’m relying on the boys to get me going in the right direction and have a great nucleus right now so I believe we will be very successful. EL: Have you had any exciting experiences during your journey in opening this new restaurant location? ZP: Yikes! Many, but most have not been positive. We had looked at a few other locations and were ready to commit, but for one reason or another lost them. That turned out to be a blessing. South End and Atherton Mill blow those away and everyone involved has realized that if we had been successful in signing a lease at one of the other locations, we would not be set up like we believe we are now.

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EL: You grew up in New York, the state with notoriously delicious pizza. What are your standards for a great pizza? ZP: Great pizza has to have great crust. All of the ingredients are important, but the crust has got to have the flavor to define the pizza. EL: If you could describe the menu/food in three words, what would they be? ZP: Affordable, flavor and variety. We know that times are tough so we designed the menu to give people plenty of great choices at prices that will not break the bank. I want people in my store two, three or four times a week, getting to know the food, never being disappointed and wanting to come back with a new group of friends and/or family. EL: What’s your favorite dish? ZP: I love the pizza but if you put a gun to my head it would be The G-Man Sandwich. It is named for another friend of ours back home. Chicken cutlet, mozzarella, ham, salami and a little balsamic. It’s really good. EL: Describe the restaurant’s general aesthetic. ZP: The historic building at Atherton Mill fit perfectly with an old NYC feel. The high ceilings, exposed brick and concrete floor are what we were looking for in décor, although we were not sure how much of this there was in Charlotte. When you walk in, I want you to feel the nostalgia. EL: The menu is said to be “armed with a family friend’s secret recipe.” Can you let us in on the secret? ZP: I could but then I’d have to kill you.

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EL: Zucca was the winner of the “Southeast Region Best Traditional Pizza” at the 2008 International Pizza Expo. Are there any other awards/goals you’re striving for personally and/or as a company? ZP: I would love to get back to Vegas and compete at the Expo with my chef and staff. But first I want to give Charlotte a taste of what I believe will be the best pizza in Charlotte. EL: How did Zucca start in Atlanta, Georgia? ZP: It’s a long story…Joe Romano took over an Atlanta location of another food concept from a family member. He loves food and couldn’t find great pizza in Atlanta. One of our friends had a pizzeria on Staten Island; he was able to get the foundation of the pizza we loved, and developed it over the years with the help of John and Tim. EL: Does the name Zucca have any significance? ZP: I’m not sure where the name originated. I’ll get back to you on that one. EL: What brings you to Charlotte? ZP: My parents moved here in 1985 and I graduated from UNCC in 1989. Two of my brothers live here now as well as my niece and a nephew. I’m the youngest of six, so this is my second hometown. EL: What will the new location offer? ZP: We will offer pizza, sports, music, entertainment and craft beers. It’s going to be a neighborhood place that we hope people will travel to from all over the Charlotte area. The pizza is great, as are all of the pastas, salads, sandwiches and entrees. Thirteen total televisions, with each booth having its own television with full programming control in the hands of the customer. We will have a full bar, wine list and beer menu with 18 taps offering a nice collection of craft beers as well as some traditional favorites. It’s going to be a fun atmosphere whether you are in the dining room or on the outdoor patio. We have a Jukebox, live entertainment, and a couple of new ideas that we are going to mix in throughout the week.

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EL: What do you hope Zucca will bring to Charlotte? ZP: I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. We are going to have great food, a really nice beer selection, good wine and a fun atmosphere. The location is spectacular and in need of a pizza joint. We will be filling a niche from lunch to late night. Soccer moms can bring the kids for lunch, business meetings can be conducted lunch or dinner, bring your sweetheart for dinner and after that, get ready for music, video games, karaoke, corn hole, and who knows what else. EL: What makes Zucca stand out from the rest? ZP: I think that Zucca’s combination of food and atmosphere is unique to Charlotte. It’s more like a “Cheers” type place, a friendly neighborhood bar and restaurant. And the pizza is tremendous. We are not trying to be everything to everybody, but you will not be disappointed once you’re in the place. EL: What are some useful tips you’ve learned in the process of building/opening a new restaurant? ZP: It takes much longer than anyone tells you. I was hoping we would be open in April, which was maybe a little unrealistic, but I was hoping. Now it looks like May so keep your fingers crossed. EL: Are there any plans to further expand the company? ZP: I have plans to develop this market and I know that there are other territories that are being looked at. I am the first place outside of Atlanta and we hope that this will lead to many more locations throughout the country. Angela Han

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SundAy

$2.50 drafts $6 dragon Bite $5 Bloody Mary and Jimador Bloody Marias

MondAy

BAr BiTeS

Monday - Thursday

3:00pm - 6:30pm Ground Beef an Cheese Tacos $1.00 BBq Pork Sliders $1.50 Green Chilé Cheese Fries $3.00 Jalapeño Poppers $3.00 Buffalo Chicken Tenders $3.00 Chilé Con queso $3.00 Guacamole $3.00 BBq Pork nachos $3.00

$2 Coronas $7 Corazon de Peche $5 Stagger Bombs

TequiLA TueSdAy

(Ask your server about this week’s Tequila)

$7 Tequila of the Week Flights $7 Tequila of the Week Margarita $2 Pacificos

WedneSdAy $5 Specialty Mojitos Half off Bottles of Wine $6 irish Mexican

THurSdAy $4 original Margaritas $7 Skinny Girl Margaritas $6 Mexican Trash Can

1100 Metropolitan Avenue S130 | Charlotte 28204 | 704.332.6322 LaPazCharlotte.com


dining

Unique and Uncommonly Tasty Tasty treats and delectable desserts never go out of style, and they make for the perfect pick-me-up. And one of the best sweets has to be the cupcake. It’s easy to tell that Charlotte agrees with all the bakeries popping out fresh cakes for the Queen City. But it’s not just taste that people look for. Check out our list of some of the most unique and uncommonly tasty combinations these cupcakeries have to offer.


Polka Dot Bake Shop Made from scratch each morning, the cupcakes here are made fresh, with lots of creativity to boot. Flavors vary day to day so check out the Web site to see when your favorite treat is being baked in house. Keep your eye out for the crème caramel pecan as this vanilla bean cupcake has a homemade caramel center and then is topped with a pecan cream cheese frosting and then even more caramel drizzled on top. 1730 E. Woodlawn Rd, Suite H | Charlotte 28209 | 704.523.5001 | PolkaDotBakeShop.com Crave Dessert Bar Satisfy your sweet tooth at Crave with the cocoa cocoa, a dark chocolate brownie cupcake (yes, a brownie and cupcake combined in one!) topped high with smooth milk chocolate icing. Or if chocolate isn’t your thing, snag the Bugs Bunny – a carrot cupcake with walnuts baked in and decorated with light cream cheese frosting. And open until 2 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday, even the night owls can indulge their cravings late. 500 W. 5th St | Charlotte 28202 | 704.335.0588 | CraveDessertBar.com Tizzerts Want something a little sweet and something to boost your energy midday? Tizzerts has you covered. Introducing the chocolate espresso cupcake. For the ultimate coffee lover, this devils food cupcake is graced with a Kona coffee whipped cream filling, topped with mocha buttercream and finished off with a chocolate espresso bean. Or try the hot chocolate cupcake -- filled with chocolate pastry cream, iced with vanilla buttercream, drizzled with chocolate ganache and finished off with a mini candy cane. Yet it’s just not a true hot chocolate cupcake until they add the mini-marshmallows on top. 4245 Park Rd | Charlotte 28209 | 704.375.7400 | Tizzerts.com SAS Cupcakes SAS offers up a variety of treats for every season and for every occasion. Yet if your taste buds want a cupcake just because, hey, cupcakes are tasty, stop in and sample the daily flavor. The pink lemonade cupcake is available on Sundays and is the perfect springtime treat. The light pink lemonade cupcake is zesty yet sweet and finished with a sweet pink vanilla buttercream. Or perk up your Monday with the orange creamsicle. The

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soft vanilla cake surrounds a vanilla buttercream on the inside and is iced with a smooth orange buttercream to finish off this tasty treat. 9941 Rea Rd | Charlotte 28277 | 704.295.1777 14130 RiverGate Pkwy, S200 | Charlotte 28273 | 704.504.2253 SASCupcakes.com Cupcake Delirium Creativity meets taste at Cupcake Delirium, and you won’t be disappointed. Try the Mountain Dew cupcake, baked with Mountain Dew, smeared with a Mountain Dew glaze and iced with a green Mountain Dew frosting. Or go a bit more daring and taste the Elvis is in the House. This fluffy banana cupcake is graced with a peanut butter frosting and sprinkled with candied bacon. Or how about the peanut butter cup cupcake. This chocolate cupcake is decorated with peanut butter frosting, ganache and complemented with a peanut butter cup. Food Truck Cupcake Shop in Charlotte | 704.458.9389 | CupcakeDelirium.com Cupcrazed Cakery This tasty shop made its home in Baxter Village in Fort Mill, SC and has quite the reputation. And for a bakery that won first place on the Food Network’s popular show Cupcake Wars last September, you know it has to be good. And true Southerners are crossing the state line into South Carolina to get a taste of the bakery’s popular sweet tea cupcakes. Stop by

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and taste something new like the shrimp creole, the margarita, the sweet potato, the Grand Marnier or the pina colada cupcake. 936 Market St, S103 | Fort Mill 29708 | 803.396.7372 | Cupcrazed.com Delish Cakery At Delish, the flavors are fresh and the cupcakes are your creations. Start out by selecting your cake flavor, from pumpkin to amaretto to red velvet and more. Then make it your own by adding one of the sweet fillings, including raspberry mousse, cheesecake, key lime, hazelnut and others. The choice is yours and they’re perfect for any occasion with custom decorations for any event. Pre-order and delivery in Charlotte | 704.724.7743 | DelishGourmetCupcakes.com Nona’s Sweets Bakery Café Award-winning Nona’s Sweets has dozens of flavors and fillings to satisfy anyone’s cravings. Yet you shouldn’t stop by without sampling the cannoli cupcake. This orange glazed vanilla butter cake is filled with a chocolate chip cannoli filling then covered in whipped icing and chocolate chip cannoli cream top. Yet while this classic is sure to stay, new flavors are being added all the time to keep you coming back. The newest flavors for the cupcake lovers include toasted coconut and stuffed red velvet. 9331 JW Clay Blvd | Charlotte 28262 | 704.717.6144 | NonasSweets.com Simply Cupcakes of Charlotte Classic flavors and sweet frostings can be found here, and with a motto of, “A cupcake in each hand is a balanced diet,” you know their passion for baking is true. No cupcake list is complete without a cupcake like Simply’s hint of mint. Yet a sweet tooth is not tamed until you sample their signature cupcake, the key lime. This tropical treat pairs together a sour cream cake with freshly made key lime, white Italian buttercream and whipped with grated lime zest and graham cracker crumbs. Pre-order and delivery in Charlotte | 704.584.9864 SimplyCupcakesCharlotte.com Dining Editor, Nikki Wilson

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dining

All Hail FroYo! It’s the new Ice Cream! What a sweet treat (pun fully intended), to get a chance to write and review the hottest, cold craze…FROZEN YOGURT, also known as FroYo if you’re in the know! For years it remained an underrated commodity among American citizens, but in recent years it has become one of the most coveted indulgences for all. Charlotte is one of many cities where the industry is thriving. I must admit I was a bit of a skeptic on the matter, I mean there is no satisfaction like that of a nice, refreshing scoop of good ole ice cream, right? Sure enough, I was mistaken and proved to myself this old young pup can indeed learn a few new tricks. One of them being, loving frozen yogurt.


After visiting a few frequented yogurt shops, I have learned the error of my ways… such a delicate, light and refreshing treat! Not only is it good to you, but good for you and can help out your waistline versus the aforementioned alternative. So when it was time to go taste testing – umm, yum by the way – I started with a long-time yogurt franchise, TCBY. Originally standing for This Can’t Be Yogurt, TCBY changed its acronym to accommodate it’s competitor I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt, to what it’s now known as, The Country’s Best Yogurt. Upon entering their store at University Town Center, I immediately made note of the bright, fun neon colors throughout the store. Very ‘kid in a candy shop’ feel. The lights flashing in the store’s backdrop and high energy music pumping through the speakers made me want to be in there. I stood before a wall of self-serve machines filled with a plethora of the frozen treat I was there to “try out.” I counted 13 different flavors. You get the classics of course, strawberry, chocolate and golden vanilla, but then there were so many more to choose from; orange sorbet, root beer float, bananas foster, white chocolate mousse, blackberry, watermelon sorbet and a honey vanilla Greek yogurt. Of all the choices I loved the Greek Yogurt! It was very light and flavorful and one of what they call their “Super Fro-Yo” choices. What makes it so super, you ask? Well it contains fiber, probiotics with live and active cultures, Vitamin D, calcium, and protein and will only contain 120 calories or less. They also have 39 topping options as well as syrups to choose from, notably dark raspberry truffle cups, cheesecake cubes, fresh fruit, and an array of candies, nuts and gummy treats. You will also find other sweet varieties of cakes and pies for special occasions or just because. While the store I visited is located in University Town Center across from University of

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North Carolina at Charlotte, TCBY has 13 stores in Charlotte and surrounding areas and proved to be an awesome first stop on my road to FroYopia! 8550 University City Blvd | Charlotte 28213 | 704.547.1234 1730 Abbey Place | Charlotte 28209 | 704.522.7223 TCBY.com Next I visited Fruiticup at University Boardwalk. Family owned and operated, this by far was no Mom and Pop shop! Beautiful, bold colors reminiscent of a tropical island covered the walls. The latest pop music was playing over the sound system and was very upbeat. Patrons were flooding into the doors and as I entered I was greeted by smiling faces. Vincent, the owner, was one of them. He showed me the eight different flavors to choose from, and made note to mention they do switch them out bi-weekly or monthly depending on season or demand. The classics were there as well, but the Coconut and Pineapple stood out the most and were so pleasing to the palate. The coconut actually had real coconut flakes in it! With 30 different toppings to choose from, my eyes went at once to the Captain Crunch berries and I thought, what a great idea! Cereal on top of FroYo? Who’d have thunk it? Fruiticup also featured other healthy topping options like granola, jelly beans, nuts, candies and fresh fruit of course. They make all of their flavors in-store and boast that they are one of the only places to do so. I would be selling you short if I failed to mentioned their famous Boba Milk tea or Bubble Tea. If you are not familiar with it, bubble teas are generally of two distinct types: fruit-flavored teas, and milk teas. However, some shops offer hybrid “fruit milk teas,” which have tapioca pearls in it that make a gummy texture but are very good. I tried the coconut and if you haven’t tried it yet, make sure you make a special trip to try it. They also feature coffee selections including Vietnamese coffee, boba coffee, espresso, lattes, green tea and Thai tea. You can find Fruiticup next to the Wine Vault by the lake in University. The atmosphere was exciting and customer service was superb! I will definitely return for more.

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9009 JM Keynes Dr., S3 Charlotte 28262 704.717.7557 Following Fruiticup was Sweet Frog in the Colonnade at King’s Grant across from Concord Mills Mall. A Christian-based store where the Frog is an acronym for Fully Rely on God, it wants to be a family-friendly environment for all to enjoy! Equally as colorful as the other stores, the décor was very modern and had a chic flare to it. The store was just as busy with customers so I made my way around observing the regulars rush to try new flavors they hadn’t tasted before. The girls behind the counter were extremely helpful and informed me of the 56 different topping selections they boasted including the syrup flavors. I saw the usual toppings but something I hadn’t seen thus far was the nerds, whole chocolate chip cookies, fruit loops, sour patch kids and chocolate rocks; basically a bite sized piece of chocolate candy coated with rock like exterior. I made my way to their 17 flavors and honed in on the ones I had to try: cake batter and thin mint. Boy was I pleased with my choices! Yum! They also had a peanut butter and cappuccino which I had yet to see as well. I observed all the different people coming in and out of the store and noticed how in-the-know everyone was. Their system was down pat. Come inside, select your cup size, pick your cup, choose your flavor yogurt and jazz it up with the topping(s) of your choosing. Clearly I had been under a rock for some time now. If you’re in the area and haven’t visited before, treat yourself to Sweet Frog, you can even get a cool T-Shirt to buy and take home too! 8528 Pit Stop Court | Concord 28027 | 704.688.0592 SweetFrogYogurt.com

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My eyes have been opened to the FroYo movement. Each place was a joy to visit and I will be taking my family and friends back to experience all that I have. They all offer indoor and outdoor seating and you’ll be sure to find your favorite flavor and toppings at any one of the stores. Pinkberry is one that stands out from the rest. This hot spot rose to fame quickly through some pretty impressive advertising through celebrity endorsements. The chic, minimalistic décor is the epitome of modernized cool. They offer a variety of “traditional” flavors including original tart, chocolate, strawberry, green tea, coconut and mango. They also carry seasonal flavors such as peach, caramel, and watermelon. One of my favorite aspects of Pinkberry is the fresh fruits and multitude of menu options. Never have I seen a trace of corn syrup in their fruit toppings. While most FroYo places only offer cups, Pinkberry goes one step further into offering cones, parfaits and smoothies. Between the variety of options and the freshness of ingredients, Pinkberry proved that frozen yogurt isn’t just dessert—it can be incorporated with every meal. I had the opportunity to visit the Southpark location one morning after an intense Pilates class. Stepping into the store, I was greeted with a friendly smile from the young lady working behind the register. She could sense my hesitation when I was continuously scanning the flavors, unsure of which I’d indulge myself with. She graciously

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offered samples of any yogurt I wanted to try, specifically emphasizing the newest seasonal flavor, peach. After sampling what seemed to be all of the flavors, I was grateful that she pushed the peach on me. I ended up creating a peach and tart fruit parfait with fresh strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, mango, and granola that not only tasted light and refreshing, but also re-energized me for the rest of the day. If you live nearby and haven’t tried Pinkberry yet, I suggest making it a priority for the upcoming sweltering months. If you’re not in the mood to go out, don’t fret because Pinkberry not only offers take-home pints and curbside pickup, but they also offer delivery! 8128 Providence Rd., S900 | Charlotte 28277| 704.541.1606 6908 Phillips Place Ct., SC | Charlotte 28211 | 704.552.8552 Pinkberry.com Last Sunday I decided to take my mother out for frozen yogurt. We’d been so busy and out of touch that we’d decided to go out for a sweet treat and catch up. She decided on Yoforia because it was her favorite FroYo place. We walked into the store, preoccupied with our conversation. After choosing my bowl and gazing at the long line of yogurt flavors, a wave of curiosity and excitement washed over me. I couldn’t believe all the flavors they carried, and how dessert-specific they were, too! Besides the usual flavors like tart, chocolate, mango, strawberry, and vanilla, they also carried flavors I’d never seen before. There was peanut butter, Irish crème, ferrero rocher, blueberry, pistachio, rose, and key lime pie. Needless to say, I had to try them all. After over filling my bowl with a multitude of flavors, I made my way to the toppings section. They carried an assortment of toppings from chocolate shavings to mochi. By the time I ended up at the register, my bowl was overflowing with goodness. We decided to take a seat and enjoy our yogurt in-store, and were pleasantly surprised when we sat through the whole thing without having to talk over any loud music. This selfserve frozen yogurt café is a neighborhood favorite for a reason. The efficient, do-it-yourself arrangement allows for total customer freedom. Customers are able to freely choose from the collection

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of flavors and toppings, controlling every aspect such as amount, placement and combination. No wonder my mom can’t get enough of this place! Yoforia has five locations in Charlotte so to find the closest to you go to their website at Yoforia.com Tasty-Yo was the first one of the first frozen yogurt café I tried in Charlotte. This family-owned business now has two locations, one in NoDa and the other in Uptown. From the moment I entered the store, I knew why this was a community staple. The café was illuminated with color. The walls were accented with local art work, while the air was slightly saturated with sweetness. To this day, I still appreciate the locally cultured aesthetic of the café, which drastically went against the usual modernized technicolor trend of other FroYo businesses. Skimming through the assortment of flavors, I decided to stick with my usual bowl of tart accompanied by fruit. To no surprise, it was delicious and fresh. The tart had an extra dash of creaminess that was absolutely delightful. The fruit was freshly cut without a trace of syrup. While enjoying my snack, I started conversing with the guy behind the counter. He kept suggesting I add a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk to my yogurt, positive

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that I wouldn’t regret it. I was hesitant to do so because I generally don’t add anything overly sweet to my yogurt, but decided to take the plunge anyways. To say that it was delicious would be an understatement. Every time I’m in the neighborhood and have a hankering for some yogurt, I make it a point to come to Tasty-Yo. Not only will you be supporting local business, but you’ll also be indulging yourself with a real treat. 3116 N. Davidson St., S130 | Charlotte 28205 | 704.333.4551 225 E. 7th St. | Charlotte 28202 | 704.650.0226 Tasty-Yo.com My very last stop was Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt. I hadn’t received a lot of feedback about Menchie’s, so I was going in with a clean slate. Their extensive list of rotating flavors was intimidating, to say the least. With a seemingly never-ending list of options that include chai tea, boysenberry, pina colada, praline ‘n cream, maple nut, and root beer float, how could anyone ever choose? Along with the regular yogurt menu, they also offer diet-specific yogurts that include no sugar added, low carb, and dairy free options for those with dietary restrictions. Being a generally indecisive person when it comes to food, it took a little time to combine the perfect treat. My boyfriend, on the other hand, went straight for the pistachio, chocolate, and strawberry (they didn’t have cherry) combination to recreate the “Spumoni.” After choosing my yogurt, I found a seat and captured the general aesthetic of the café. At the core of Menchie’s essence is cuteness. From the color scheme to the frozen yogurt, all the components of the store exemplify an admirable youthfulness. Even the yogurt mascot is adorable. The biggest Menchie’s fans don’t have to stop at their yogurt. They offer a full range of Menchie’s merchandise for those devoted fans that just can’t get enough. Sweet, right? 1247 East Blvd. | Charlotte 28203 | 704.348.1256 Menchies.com TekaRose

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May 2012 "The Food Issue"  

I hope all is well with everyone; this month’s issue is our annual “Dining Guide,” so if you’re not hungry now you will be after you read ab...

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