Local and regional restaurant picks you have to try.
A New Start
Carmichael’s Family Restaurant › 3105 East Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala › (352) 629-3636 › carmichaelsrestaurant.com
If the name seems familiar, it’s because Ocala and Carmichael’s have history. Originally opened in 1986, the restaurant was a huge hit and beloved by its many patrons. When a fire destroyed the original building, owner Ken DePasquale decided not to rebuild but leased the land to the Burger 21 franchise. Happily, he retained the land, and when Burger 21 closed at the end of 2017, he decided to reopen a reimagined Carmichael’s.
“It’s our ‘quote’ Carmichael’s 2.0,” DePasquale explains. “There was no way we could replicate the old Carmichael’s, so we added ‘Family Restaurant’ to the name.”
Although the decor has changed, the spirit is the same, as are their famous orange rolls.
“It’s a recipe that my mother and I developed,” DePasquale shares. “When we opened in 1986, we were serving close to 10,000 orange rolls a week,” he continues. “We are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and this time, we are serving our orange rolls at all three meals.”
There are also lots of familiar faces.
“I would say that 75 percent of the customers are our old patrons who have come back,” says DePasquale. “The other 25 percent are brand-new.”
Much the same can be said for the menu.
“85 percent of our old menu is back,” DePasquale offers. “Prime rib was always a big feature at Carmichael’s. What we did this time was take one of our most popular menu items and created a new Colorado Prime Rib Sandwich. We make boneless prime rib every day and then slice them paper thin, just for those sandwiches. It has taken off so much that we were literally running out of prime rib at first.”
They have also expanded the bar operation and created a signature beer, Destination Orange. There is a happy hour every day from 4-7pm, during which you will receive 50 percent off the bar menu.
Zaxby’s Chicken Fingers & Buffalo Wings › locations throughout Ocala & Belleview › zaxbys.com
Don’t miss your last chance this season to enjoy this exceptional salad.
“The Zensation Zalad is our most frequently requested limited-time-offer item, and we continue to bring it back because guests love it,” says Stephanie Gamble, vice president of Menu Innovation. “I can’t begin to tell you how many times we’ve heard, ‘I don’t even eat salads, but I love The Zensation.”
The salad is made to order with hand-breaded chicken, mixed greens, red cabbage, carrots and crispy wonton strips and Asian slaw and then drizzled with a honey sesame glaze and served with citrus vinaigrette dressing and a mini vegetable egg roll.
Hot Dish: House-Made Overstuffed Calzone
Fiore’s Cafe › 2327 S Pine Ave., Ocala › (352) 789-6980
“For one of the best kept secrets in Ocala Italian dining, look no further than Fiore’s Cafe,” offers Stephanie Risher of Ocala. “The calzones are perfection. Everything there is just incredible. The house-made soups, salads and pasta dishes are excellent, and they offer authentic New York-style pizza. It’s an intimate environment with homestyle food—a must visit for a romantic dinner date.”
Are you the top foodie in your crew? We want your recommendations, from gotta-try appetizers and outstanding entrées to inspired sides and delectable desserts. Snap a food selfie, and tag us in your social media posts with the hashtag #OcalaStyleHotDish. If we love what you’re dishing out, we’ll feature it in an upcoming issue.