Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Sixth Annual Boca Pointe Meal Deals

If you ever have any inclination to go into the restaurant business, disabuse yourself of that urge immediately. Even if you are a high roller and an inveterate casino gambler, you won’t like the odds. A Hospitality Management professor at Ohio State University studied the life span of new restaurants from 1996-1999 discovering that 26 percent failed in the first year, 19 percent closed in the second year, and an additional 14 percent in the third. Within a three-year period, 59 percent of the restaurants had closed.

There is no way to correlate those figures to what is happening here in the Boca Raton area. However, it is apparent that the numbers here are deteriorating. Last year’s report counted 14 percent of the restaurants listed in the previous year’s (2006) article had closed. Of last year’s group, seven of the 33 restaurants no longer exist, a 21 percent failure rate. Of the seven, only two were less than one year old, so perhaps the survival rate in Boca is better than average. Despite removing those seven unfortunates from the list, we have included 11 new names, providing a record total of 37 restaurants for you to consider.

Speaking of survival, you will now be required to survive the traditional reading of the time-honored poetry effort before getting to the (excuse the pun) meat of the food section.

Ode to Summer Meal Deals

When summertime comes ‘round, the restaurateurs go nuts,
there really is no question of ifs or ands or buts.

They know that all the snowbirds have departed from the scene,
and they must do something special to come up with the green.

With gas, and unemployment, plus mortgage defaults hitting highs,
the economy in question, just listen to the cries.

There are no extra dollars in family budgets to dine out,
so the fate of restaurant business is now very much in doubt.

Several restaurants already closed and it would not surprise a bit,
if before long several others will have taken the big hit.

Of course there’s one solution, to cut prices on their meals,
this means there’s an even greater number of outstanding summer deals.

So, quickly cut this page out to peruse and to consult,
you’ll no doubt save time and money as happy meals result.

New Addition (no extra charge)

At the end of the regular listings, there will be mini-reviews of three new restaurants. Each one is worth visiting.

2008 Summer Meal Deals

Unless noted otherwise, the offerings are for a three course dinner including soup or salad, entrée, and dessert; If the location is other than Boca Raton, it will be mentioned. Coupon deals are not listed.
  • Aegean Isles: includes Coffee or Tea. $13-$15. Tuesday-Sunday, 5:00—7:00. Cash Only. 297 East Palmetto Park Rd. 368 7788

  • Basil Garden: $26. All night, every night. 5837 Federal Highway. 994-2554

  • Bistro Provence: 3 Courses withChoice of Soup, or Salad, or Appetizer. Nice choices in all categories. Coffee or Tea. $14.50. Monday-Sunday, 5:00-5:45. Ad not required if you mention Boca Pointe. 2399 N/ Federal Highway.368-2340

  • Bova: 3 course Regional tasting menu (Call for details). $25.00. Monday-Wednesday. 1450 N. Federal Highway. 362-7407

  • Brooks Restaurant: Carafe of wine per couple. $59.50 per couple. No time restrictions. (If Saturday, call to confirm). 500 S. Federal Highway, Deerfield Beach. 954 427-9302

  • Gary Woo: Soup, Appetizer, Entrée, and Ice Cream. Cash Only. Nightly. Closed Tuesday. 3400 Federal Highway. 368-8803

  • Gigi’s: Salad or Appetizer, Entrée, Dessert, $23, or $26 each with bottle of wine. Mizner Park, 368-8115

  • Gold Coast Seafood: No longer open in Boca because the landlord intends to completely renovate the shopping center and forced out the tenants. However, this was a Boca Pointe favorite and you can still enjoy the food at their original establishment at 2752 University Drive, Coral Springs. 954 255-3474 for “Call Ahead” semi-reservations.

  • Henry’s: Buy one entrée, get one free. NEW THIS YEAR: Three course dinner, $20.95-$23.95. Sunday-Thursday 5:00-5:45. 16850 Jog Rd., Delray Beach. 638-1915

  • Il Girasole: Coffee or Tea. $22.50. 5:00-6:30. Tuesday-Sunday. 1911 South Federal Highway. Delray Beach. 272-3566

  • Jake’s Stone Crab: Full dinner special. $24.95. Nightly. SE 5 th Ave. and Federal Highway. 347-1055

  • Josephine’s: Appetizer, Entrée, Dessert, and Coffee. $25.00. Sunday-Friday. 5751 Federal highway. 988-0668

  • La Luna: Buy one entrée get one free, off regular menu. Beverage must be ordered. Maximum discount $20.00. Daily. Also, 3 course dinner nightly. $14.95-$16.95. Must be seated by 5:30. Cash only. 5030 Champion Blvd. 997-1165

  • La Trattoria: Appetizer, Entrée, Dessert, and Coffee. $19.95. Wednesday-Sunday. Cash Only. 6060 SW 18 th St. 750-1296

  • La Viola: All-inclusive dinners. Coffee. $15.95. Monday-Thursday. 145 SE Mizner Blvd. (Royal Palm Plaza). 392-0304

  • Linda B of Boca: $25.00. Tuesday-Sunday. 41 East Palmetto Park Rd. 367-0200

  • Max’s Grill: Appetizer or Soup or Salad. $18.00-$26.00. Order 2 dinners and get bottle of wine or House Drink for $2.00 per person. Nightly. 5:00-7.00. Mizner Park. 368-0880

  • Milos: New Greek restaurant. $14.95. Monday-Friday. $19.95 Saturday-Sunday. Large selection of appetizers, entrées, desserts. 1600 Federal Highway. 750-5220

  • Old Calypso: Salad and Entrée only. $16.95-$19.95. 900 East Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. 279-2300

  • Opus 5: Special 3 Course menu $21-$34. Monday-Thursday 6:00-6:45, Friday 6-6:30, Saturday 6:00, Sunday all night. Boca Center, 544-8000

  • Poppies: Soup or Salad, Entrée, Dessert and Coffee. $10.99. 4900 Linton Blvd., Delray Beach. 498-4900

  • Positano’s: 4 courses $24.95. Appetizer plus Pasta or Salad, Choice of 14 Entrées, Dessert, and Coffee. $24.95 Every night. 4400 Federal Highway. 391-2120

  • Pranzo: Appetizer or Soup or Salad, Entrée and Dessert. $19.00, or $23.00 each, with a bottle of wine for two. Every night till 8:00. Mizner Park, 750-7442 Not well known but good value.

  • Regency Grill: New. Choice of 4 entrées. $17-$19. Coffee, Tea, or Soda. 3011 Yamato Rd., 998-3336

  • St. Tropez: $15.95. All night, every night. Cash only. Mention Boca Pointe for the deal. 7000 W. Camino Real. 368-4119

  • Taverna Kalamata: Coffee or Tea. $13.00-$15.00. Cash Only. Nightly, 5:00-6:00. 39 SE 1 st Ave. 393-7171

  • The Addison Steakhouse: New. Early Bird starts @ $14.95 with $3 a glass of wine available. 5:00-5:45. address phone

  • Tiramasu: Appetizer, Entrée, Dessert, and Coffee. $19.50. Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday All Night. Friday-Saturday 5:00-6:45. 170 W. Camino Real. 338-9692

New Restaurants: Mini Reviews

Bonefish Grill: Like its parent, Outback, and similar to its sister (or is it brother?) restaurant Carrabas, the new Bonefish Grill located in part of what was the old Ross Store on Powerline Road, provides better than average quality food at relatively inexpensive prices. Typical of the Outback family, despite being open only a few days, the staff was friendly, courteous, and knowledgeable. I have found myself complimenting the manager of this chain’s establishments on the capabilities of its wait staff, perhaps more than any other.

While there is no special summer menu or even an early bird, characteristic of its model, the menu has been pared down to what is probably its best selling (which means its best liked) dishes at almost bargain prices. Considering this is a fish restaurant, there are relatively few fish species on the menu, although there are usually a few daily specials also available. The regular menu lists Tilapia, Salmon, Rainbow Trout, and Ahi Tuna, from$13.70-$19.70, plus a regular size Chilean Sea Bass at $22, and a petite size serving at$18.90. Each fish is wood fire grilled, and can be prepared with a choice of four different coverings. Lobster Tails and a combination dish of Sea Scallops and Shrimp can also be sauced.

A few other more exotic fish and seafood specialties are always available, including the Icelandic Dynamic Duo, consisting of Baked Lump Crab stuffed Wolffish (I don’t know this one) and Shrimp Almondine, in a mysterious Asian sauce. A few steaks and chops, plus chicken and pasta dishes are also on the menu, all very well priced.

After only one visit with another couple we all would return, if for no other reason than to reorder the Bang Bang Shrimp, a dynamite appetizer that is almost a meal in itself for only $7.90. If nothing else, order this for the table. In fact, one way to dine at Bonefish is to order two appetizers. The main dish portions are sized for take-home. The three desserts are all around $5 and usually come with four forks for two couples. There is also a surprisingly extensive and well priced wine list, starting at $4.80 a glass, and as low as $21 a bottle. A list of 14 exotic Martinis and cocktails are all priced below $8.

Typical of Outback, the interior décor is rather plain and simple. It becomes obvious that the emphasis is on providing as much food value as possible for the money, and Outback certainly succeeds in this effort. The restaurant is located at 21065 Powerline Rd. in the Shops of Boca Grove. Phone for “Call Ahead” semi-reservations at 483-4949.

Del Vecchio’s Italian Fishery: This could easily become a Boca Pointe neighborhood family hangout. Located straight down Powerline Rd., just south of Hillsboro Blvd., the creativity of the chef, the quality of the food, and the attention to service, should make this a real favorite. Newly opened, the Del Vecchio family, Lou and Belinda, are making a special effort to attract Boca Pointe residents—do they have a deal for you!

Driving its successful opening to the point where plans are already being made to expand the seating capacity is the executive chef, Luciano Balzano. Growing up in a family of chefs and cooks, he learned his craft in Italy and later honed it at an upscale restaurant in Miami. He brings not only his cooking skills, but also an outgoing and enthusiastic personality to his work that is most engaging.

While the regular dinner menu is priced similar to many of the upscale Boca restaurants (in the high $20-$40 range), this article deals with summer specials, and here is where Boca Pointers get what is definitely upscale dining at terrific prices.

For example, how about All You Can Eat Pasta, with a choice of five types of pasta and four different sauces for only $16.95, between 4:00-7:00 on weekdays? Even better is the Sunset Menu at just $21.95 that includes Soup or Salad, Dessert, and Coffee or Tea. But there’s more—show your Boca Pointe card and you not only get a glass of wine, but 15% off the check as well. That’s the Dell Vecchio’s welcome for its neighbors.

The entrées consist of Brook Trout, Veal Scallopine Chicken Paillard, Scottish Salmon, Rotisserie Chicken, “Sunday Dinner” Rigatoni ($24.50), Penne Pasta with Pesto Chicken Breast, and a daily Oven Pasta special, all with the unique signature of the chef’s creative skills. The desserts are Tiramasu, Cannoli, Gelato or Sorbetto.

But there’s even more. Del Veccio also serves a summer lunch special that so impressed my lunch group of 8-10 guys, we ate there twice in one week—and we can’t wait to go back again. For only $8.95, you get a choice of five different, almost dinner size entrees (they change for every day of the week), that once again spotlights Chef Luciano’s culinary talents. You’ll have a tough time making a choice.

Del Veccio is located at 246 S. Powerline Rd. Reservations are a must at 954 571-9700. The General Manger is Craig Teriaca, but if you want to schmooze with an old-time Bronx Boy, ask for Alan Schwartz.

TW Steak & Seafood: This is an updated and upscale version of the original Tony Wu restaurant in Delray Beach, under the same ownership. Very conveniently located in the Beracasa Shopping Center, this replaced the long-time Lai-Lai Chinese Restaurant; however, this Tony Wu is not strictly Chinese. It is what might be called a fusion Chinese and Italian, admittedly heavier on the Chinese.

The renovation completely transformed the interior, resulting in a simple, attractive, almost sophisticated ambience. Perhaps that factor is what makes the food seem far superior to the original Tony Wu, but it is probably the chef. In any event, having eaten there three times with friends who all enjoyed their dishes, it is well worth trying.

A complete dinner menu with 14 choices from $15-$21 is served nightly, consisting of soup or salad, entrée, dessert, and coffee or tea. An added incentive, mention Boca Pointe and get 10% off the check (located at 7194 Beracasa Way, 391-6525).

A cautionary note: When making a reservation, double check the details of the summer deal since changes do occur.

Keep this article: You can refer to it when someone asks, “Where do you want to eat tonight?”

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Alternative Energy—Our Only Alternative—Part VI

Science Fiction?

With the price of oil, gasoline, and natural gas skyrocketing, and payments for coal doubling, the costs to build nuclear plants tripling to quadrupling, and the heightened awareness of climate change, it is no wonder that the development of alternative energy sources appears significantly more compelling. As a result, the pace of research and experimentation in the field has increased exponentially.

A recently resurrected concept that seems more science fiction than science was first conceived 40 years ago by Dr. Peter Glaser, an engineer at Arthur D. Little. Glaser subsequently became closely associated with NASA, proposing (and patenting) the futuristic idea of sending satellites into space that would amass solar energy, and beam it back to earth in the form of microwaves that would be collected and converted to electricity.

While at the time, both NASA and the Department of Energy (DOE) agreed the concept [now known as “Space Solar Power” (SSP)] was feasible, the estimated price tag of $1 trillion was deemed too expensive. Nevertheless, over the last three decades NASA and the Department of Energy collectively spent $80 million in sporadic efforts studying the concept. As futuristic as this may seem and as complex are the engineering challenges that undoubtedly exist, the Pentagon’s National Security Space Office is encouraging the U.S. government to resurrect the development of space power systems. The rationale cited is, “A single kilometer-wide band of geosynchronous earth orbit experiences enough solar flux in one year to nearly equal the amount of energy contained within all known reserves of conventional oil reserves on earth today.”

As a result, in October of last year, the U.S. National Security Space Office recommended an expenditure of $10 billion over the next ten years to build a test satellite capable of beaming 10 megawatts of electric power down to earth. Considering that in 2007 the U.S. spent $331 billion on foreign oil, and at just $135 a barrel we will spend some $640 billion in 2008, a $10 billion investment that could save enormous sums in the future seems to be a bargain. Science fiction? Perhaps not.

Geothermal Energy

From the imaginative use of solar power emanating from the edges of outer space, it seems quite a leap of faith to consider another alternative energy source that is literally beneath our feet. Yet, seventy-two miles north of San Francisco in the Mayacanas Mountains lays the largest complex of geothermal power plants in the world. The area, known as The Geysers, contains 22 power plants with a net generating capacity of about 725 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 725,000 homes, or a city the size of San Francisco. In reality, these plants supply 60 percent of the average electricity in the North Coast region of California from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border.

The use of geothermal steam and hot springs for bathing and heating has been known for centuries, but not until the early 20 th century was their power employed to produce electricity. Geothermal power is generated in over 20 countries from Africa to the Philippines to South America and Russia. The United States however, is the largest producer of thermal energy.

To extract the steam necessary to power the electricity generators, two drill holes must be bored extending as much as 6 miles deep into the earth (but usually much less). The rock between the two boreholes must then be fractured, and water is pumped down one, and steam comes up the other. The ability to drill to these depths has been pioneered by the petroleum industry.

Geothermal power plants have some unique and significant advantageous characteristics compare to solar and wind energy. In the right locations (hot springs and heat vents), geothermal energy is extremely price competitive; it functions constantly day and night, (unlike solar that depends on the sun, and wind that operates only when the wind blows); the energy harnessed is clean and safe; it is also sustainable since the hot water used can be re-injected into the ground to produce more steam. One disadvantage is that in those cases where water is injected into dry rock, there is a danger that land stability can be adversely affected. Few people, including our government leaders and politicians recognize the potential inherent in geothermal energy to offset the use of fossil fuels.

A 2006 study prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) maintains that beneath U.S. soil lays enough geothermal energy to provide 2000 times the 2005 annual consumption of primary energy in the U.S. In addition, it is not necessary to confine drilling only to known hot springs locations. The lead author of the report, Jefferson Tester, an MIT professor, states that geothermal energy “is a very large resource that perhaps has been undervalued in terms of the impact it might have on supplying energy to the U.S.”

Are Nukes the Answer?

In mid-June John McCain advocated the construction of 45 nuclear plants by the year 2030, with another 55 to be built beyond that date. Unlike elsewhere in the world, Americans have, in the past, been wary of anything nuclear, especially after the fiasco of Three Mile Island, and the Chernobyl disaster. Aside from the fears related to safety, there is also the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) factor. While nuclear power is an attractive alternative, a number of issues must be considered.

Senator McCain’s support has provided some impetus to at least a conversation on the subject. Despite the fact that no new nuclear facility has been built in 30 years, the U.S. is the largest supplier of commercial nuclear power in the world. Some 20 percent of the nation’s total energy consumption emanates from nuclear plants. Currently, there are 104 nuclear plants in operation in 31 states, and 18 states receive 25 percent or more of their power from nuclear plants.

The benefits of nuclear power go beyond the generating costs as estimated by the industry, of just 0.4 cents a kilowatt-hour. (This compares most favorably with 4.2 cents from coal plants and 7.0 cents for natural gas). In addition, unlike coal and gas fired plants, nuclear reactors don’t emit greenhouse gases that include carbon dioxide, the culprit associated with global warming.

While 30 new nuclear plants are being considered nation-wide, a five year-old report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology entitled, “The Future of Nuclear Power,” was prescient in that it raised significant economic concerns stating, “The prospects for nuclear energy as an option are limited [by many] unresolved problems, [of which] high relative cost [is only one]” In the current environment, construction costs are exploding for new nuclear plants (those recommended by Senator McCain for example) with estimated costs up as much as four times higher than originally anticipated. In fact, the price of a new nuclear plant is now in the range of $8 to $12 billion.

Based on the magnitude of that type of investment, utility companies must view potential profits as questionable. Despite the fact that the MIT report cited above is five years old, its representation in the report that “Today (2003), nuclear power is not an economically competitive choice,” changing the “today” date to 2008 would be a more realistic view of the problematic future of nuclear power.

There are many who maintain that Nuclear energy is neither renewable (Uranium must constantly be dug up), nor is it clean since the waste fuel is a serious problem that has yet to be solved. However, it is included here because it has become a very current political topic.


Biomass energy production involves the use of plants or animal matter such as wood (the most common material), food crops, grasses, agricultural waste, manure, and methane from landfills. The U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) positions biomass as the largest source of renewable energy, at 46.5 percent. Much of biomass energy is used by industrial organizations burning their own waste product to produce electricity.

Several reports have raised questions regarding the desirability of biomass as a clean renewable energy source. The February 2008 issue of Trends in Ecology and Evolution, as reported in Science Daily, that while biomass has many benefits there are limits to the extent that it can sustainably contribute to global energy needs.

Critics of ethanol production from corn have become increasingly vocal, especially as food prices have escalated. Two other recent papers, one in the journal Science, and the other from the National Conservancy conclude that huge amounts of natural land being converted to cropland throughout the world to support biofuel production increases greenhouse gas substantially. Thus, biomass may not be the clean energy source many profess it to be.


According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) our second largest source of renewable energy (46.5%) is produced by hydroelectric plants, although that only accounts for less than 9% of our total electric energy production. The generation of hydro electricity is generally thought of as being derived from large dam systems, and while that is true, the opportunity to expand and build additional large hydro plants is severely limited.

Yet, there are alternatives to large dam systems such as those found at Grand Coulee Dam (the 4 th largest in the world), and Hoover Dam. What is known as “small Hydro” has great potential as a future energy source. These systems may consist of smaller dams using river and lake water control; damless systems driven by kinetic energy; “tidal power” using the movements of the tides; and more recently, “wave power” that uses the energy of ocean waves.

A 2006 study endorsed by the U.S. Department of Energy identified 5400 feasible small hydro projects that could increase U.S. hydroelectric production by 50 percent.

But Where’s the Money?

On May 21 st the House of Representatives passed legislation that extended and expanded the incentives for several renewable energy industries that would not only help break our addiction to oil, but would also accelerate the growth of new industries and create thousands of new jobs. The $18 billion monetary incentives would be paid for by eliminating that amount of incentives for the oil industry. The President threatened to veto the bill and in mid-June the Senate could not muster the necessary 60 votes to overcome Republican objections and a presidential veto—the bill was rejected. Without theses subsidies, much of the potential growth in the above renewable industries will slow significantly, and threaten 116,000 jobs in the wind and solar industries alone.

What Was I Thinking ? In previous articles, I mentioned that the “father” of the president of First Solar lived in Boca Pointe. I should have said “the parents”, and for that oversight I apologize profusely to Miriam.