A new sports restaurant, Gator’s Dockside, (352) 433-2441, has come to town in Brookshire Oaks. Not too far from it, a similar restau-rant has closed. Is it survival of the fittest? Will Gator’s keep patrons coming with their grilled wings, television screens, and the coldest beer in town?
General Manger Chris Ciarletto, who helped staff the Gainesville store, says yes.
“We have over 15 wing sauces and three styles, including grilled,” he says.
The grilled wings are partially fried before being grilled. During my visit, I enjoyed this style, plump and not shriveled or dry. The blue cheese dressing was thick and chunky, not watery. Ciarletto suggested the popular Scooter sauce, made of honey and garlic with a hint of spiciness. He also brought out the Turkey Muffalatta sandwich, filled with turkey, spinach and artichoke dip, tomato, and Swiss and Parmesan cheeses and sealed in a press. The hand-battered gator tail was tender.
“When it comes to sports, Gator’s Dockside lives up to its name with packages galore,” says Ciarletto. “We have NFL, NBA, MLB, March Madness, Big 10 Network, Mountain Network, and UFC fights.”
A small fee will reserve your seat for larger events. You can enjoy two-for-one happy hour all day, every day on select drinks at the horseshoe bar and you can enjoy beer from a state-of-the-art draft system that guarantees the beer is 32 degrees from the tap. If you see an eight-foot gator standing on its hind legs, don’t worry. It’s not because you drank too much—it’s really there.
Gator’s Dockside has plenty of seating and includes three 115-inch screens and 20 plasmas with one in each restroom. A large, covered outdoor area complete with lights, fans, and drop-downs to keep the rain and chill out can be enjoyed in all kinds of weather.
Thanks to Manager Matt Buccino and our server, Cassidy, my guests and I had a fun and delicious dining experience. Visit ga-torsdockside.com for a menu and more information.
Moving on to the edge of Marion County, a little restaurant with big portions as well as a big following has changed hands. Joanie Massey has owned The Square Meal for more than 21 years but has decided to spend more time with her grandson and family. Her daughter, Amber, was six when the restaurant first opened.
“Everybody,” says Massey, “including my customers, helped raise Amber.”
Amber continues to work in the restaurant and much like herself in earlier years, her little boy meanders through, visiting with friends and family who come to dine.
Cyndi Newbern took over the restaurant on January 1. With a background in catering herself, Newbern is well accustomed to the hospitality business. She plans to continue with the specials, the awesome breakfasts, and the ever-popular soups. Home-style biscuits made with a rolling pin are baked every morning and the sausage gravy is chunky, not just flavored. Enjoy real grits and if you want cheese, it’s shredded cheddar on the bottom and top! From-scratch meatloaf and roast beef are the lunch favorites. Every day there is a soup special with a grilled cheese sandwich for only $3.95.
“The only complaint I get about my soups,” says Massey with a smile, “is that the bowl is too big.”
From Ocala, it’s an easy drive from CR 314 to Hwy 19. The Square Meal, (352) 685-2288, is open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch. The restaurant takes cash only, but an ATM is nearby.
Roseann founded Restaurant Guide USA and still enjoys writing about new and upcoming eateries. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you see or know of any new restaurants coming to your area.