Quick Bites: Gruffs Welcomes Boaters, Tubers, & Landlubbers

There’s a new dining option for boaters on the Rainbow River in Dunnellon. For a while it was Café on the River, then RiverHouse Restaurant. Still accessible by CR 484, or Pennsylvania Avenue, it’s now Gruffs Tap & Grille.

Nick Patel, who owns beverage and gas station businesses, partnered with Alan Ingram, owner of the popular Dunnellon barbecue restaurant Skeets. Dine inside, on the screened porch, or outdoors under the oaks. Every seat on the property offers a gorgeous view of the river.

The menu is simple, but the dishes are hardy. Featured are wraps, burgers, fish and chips, chicken, poppers, shrimp, conch chowder, salads, and more.

On my visit, I tried the Falafel, a pita pocket with hummus, fried chicken, veggies, and a spicy garlic sauce. My guest had the fish and chips which was more than she could eat for a single serving. As a fun feature, kids’ meals are served in Frisbees.

Out of respect for the river, Styrofoam cups and straws are not allowed to leave the premises. The music is kept at a minimum, and the restaurant closes as early as 9pm (5pm on Sundays) for the local residents to enjoy peace and tranquility on the river after the tubers and boaters head home.

Call 465-2881 for a faxed menu. Still under construction, the restaurant’s Web site is at www.gruffstapandgrille.com.

Adam Volpe, part of the management team at the new PI restaurant under construction on Broadway, sent an e-mail about the facility. While gourmet pizza is one of the many items that will be available at PI, it is not a pizzeria. Also featured will be artisan sandwiches, salads, fine meats, cheeses, and seasonal specialties. There will also be two full liquor bars and an extensive list of wine, martinis, micro-brews, and craft beers, both on tap and in bottles. The downstairs dining room will feature an open kitchen and several shutter-style windows. The rooftop bar will offer shade trees and outdoor seating overlooking the downtown area. Check back for an opening date.

Nibbles: As of this writing, Mark’s Prime Steakhouse (402-0097) on the downtown square should be open by the time you read this. More next issue! Wing Nutz (694-2144) opened in Baseline Plaza, by the bingo unit. Owners Jay and Joanne of La Bella’s Pizzeria on Lake Weir Avenue were determined to give this unit a go where other restaurants have failed. Serving wings, salads, appetizers, subs, and more, how can they go wrong with a reputation like La Bella’s? Chef Tony Trinidad confirmed Dee Dee’s Dog House in The Villages is closing and Sky Xiao (Little Sky) will be opening in September. New to Ocala will be Cuvée Wine & Bistro on SW 19th Avenue Road, opening this fall. Are you looking to open a restaurant? Several are on the market. E-mail roseann@ocalastyle.com for more information.

Reader Replies: One reader writes, “Friendly’s Restaurant is a little different, but what we really need is a Mel’s Diner. You don’t feel like you’re eating the same old stuff.” Jan Smith would like to see a Sweet Tomatoes and a Romano’s Macaroni Grill and will be looking forward to the Schnitzel Factory. Betty Kossick writes that she and her husband would also love to see Sweet Tomatoes open in Ocala, as would Mary Grass. Another reader would like a Boston Lobster Feast and requests one for Ocala when filling out the comment card each visit. Ken Barnes is still hoping for a Romano’s Macaroni Grill. See more suggestions next issue!

What new restaurant would you
like to see come to Ocala?
E-mail your response to
and we’ll put the results in future issues.

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