Local and regional restaurant picks you have to try.
There’s an unassuming quality about 7&7 from the outside, which might have something to do with the fact that the building once housed a drive-thru pharmacy. And if that history has seeped through in one distinct way, it is that this new addition to the culinary landscape is a true tonic for the soul. First-time restaurant proprietor DonaMarie Nosse, who along with her husband, Noel, has cultivated a warm and inviting atmosphere that has quickly made it a runaway success.
In addition to the great coffees (ground fresh when you order), an exceptional wine list, a large craft beer selection and innovative menu items, what makes this a standout is how the owners enjoy curating each guest’s experience. This is evident from DonaMarie’s delectable custom gourmet tasting boards (cheeses, fruits, chocolates, etc.) and healthy Panini sandwiches to their wine and beer pairing recommendations. They also offer flavorful and healthy salads, as well as innovative dinner specials on the weekend. One of the novel elements of the business is they’ve kept the drive through in the mix.
“Part of our concept was to have a way for moms to pick up dinner without the kids having to get out of the car.” DonaMarie explains. “I wanted to make their lives easier and more enjoyable. For a mom to be able to call up, order some paninis or a cheese board, ask us to choose a bottle of wine for her and also get beer for her husband and some basic grocery items, without ever getting out of the car… that’s a service! I’m a mom of five, so I know.”
All total, it’s an inventive and surprisingly sophisticated concept with a down-to-earth vibe in a space that is cozy enough to feel like home.
Worth The Trip
St. Petersburg › swah-rey.com › (727) 767-0523
It’s about to get a bit sweeter in Sunshine City. Business is so good at this Grand Central District bakery and dessert bar that they are opening a second St. Pete location this month. With a name that nods to the proper pronunciation of soirée (swah-rey), the owners have taken the definition to heart by creating a party vibe around their delectable desserts, offering six types of draft beer and a selection of wines, in addition to their tea and locally roasted coffee. Although their cake slices, pie in-a-glass and crème brûlée draw crowds, their bite-size “Minis” cupcakes are the star attraction.
Valentina’s Sandwich Factory
132 East Magnolia Ave., Eustis › (352) 408-9608
There’s something genuinely sweet about Valentina’s, and it is reflected in co-owner Araceli Lujan’s smile. The menu is an eclectic mix of Italian, South American and Mediterranean dishes, lovingly made with fresh herbs from her front yard garden. Everything is homemade, and you won’t find anything fried on the menu. Owners Araceli Lujan and Nino Perisic have been delighting visitors to their charming casual dining restaurant with a variety of delicious salads, soups and sandwiches since opening recently. In fact, Lujan explains that her express goal is to make people happy with her menu, which includes Aztec chicken soup, Argentinian empanadas, Mediterranean couscous, waffle crab cakes, baked brie, avocado toast, Limoncello cake and classic tiramisu.