Bite into three new restaurants in South Broward

It’s a good sign for the economic recovery to see restaurants opening at a faster rate. Here are three places in South Broward that opened in the last several months.

At Gamaroff’s Bar and Gril, value-minded customers can design their own meals. Just a warning: Everything is a la carte. The Hallandale Beach restaurant, which opened in October on the site of the former Thira, is a cross between a steakhouse and a sports bar. There’s a big bar area in the center of the restaurant and lots of televisions to get a good view of the Super Bowl or the Miami Heat. The setting is cozy with dim lighting, lots of cherry wood tables and black leather banquettes. Nice enough for a date or comfortable enough to bring the kids. The menu focuses on the classics with a selection of bar food appetizers like sweet & sour meatballs or an onion blossom for grazing. Entrees include steaks, prime rib, fish and chicken. Prices like $12.95 for a 16-ounce prime rib or $13.95 for a New York strip of the same size look like a bargain until you discover that’s only the price for the protein. Perfect, if you’re on a low-carb diet. If not, sides are large enough for two people, and most run between $3.95 and $5.95. Add a side salad for $2.95. “It’s the same way they do it at the high-end steakhouses,” said George Morfidis, who opened the restaurant in late October with partner Michael Seltzer. “We leave it up to the customer to let them have the choice.”  A traditional house salad with eggs, cheddar cheese and smoked bacon was a filling starter for two or three people and cheaper than two side salads. The New York strip was more well done than we would have liked but overall a nice cut of meat for the price. Shrimp scampi comes with an ample serving of nine shrimp in a flavorful garlic butter sauce, but it begged to be served over pasta or rice. A side of quinoa pilaf, while a refreshingly healthy alternative, wasn’t quite the right pairing and also could have used more vegetables mixed in. A side of mac and cheese was loaded with decadent cheese and would make a good light meal on its own. Gamaroff’s also offers an array of aggressive promotions. For lunch they throw in a choice of side with a beverage purchase. Other deals include 25 percent off on entrées weekdays between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Extended Happy Hour promotions offer 50 percent off certain beverages for most of the day and all day on Sundays.

Open the door to Dickey’s Barbecue Pit (pictured) and that familiar smoked-meat smell hits you right away. The Miramar strip center location is the first in South Florida for this Texas-based chain. We hope there are more to come. It’s designed as a fast-casual concept; guests order at the counter and take the food to a table with a homey blue-and-white checked cloth. The menu is simple. Choose from eight different meats: beef brisket, pulled pork, pork ribs, turkey breast, chicken breast and two kinds of sausage. The meats are smoked on site, as long as 14 hours for the brisket and pork. They are sliced to order. Meats are served dry; diners can choose from three sauces kept warm on the counter. Single meat plates come in two sizes. Can’t decide? Go for the two meat combo. There are also sandwiches, salads and family style packages. Plates come with choices of traditional sides like barbecue beans, coleslaw and fried okra, plus healthier choices like Caesar salad and green beans. The brisket here is among the best we’ve ever tasted. Perfectly smoked and caramelized, it had what barbecue fans call a bark. We had ours sliced, but the owner suggested next time ordering it chopped Texas style. Pulled pork was another winner, lean and flavorful. Even the St. Louis style pork ribs, often chewy and fatty, were smoked so long the meat fell off the bone. The only downside here is that sides aren’t nearly as good. Cole slaw and macaroni and cheese were acceptable, just nothing special. The beans tasted more baked the barbecued and would have benefited from some scraps of meat. Onion tanglers were good but cooled very quickly. The best were waffle iron fries made to order. After the meal, help yourself to a free vanilla ice cream cone from the self-serve machine.

This Downtown Hollywood newcomer Hello Sushi has an industrial modern chic feel. The long narrow storefront features oversize photos of Japanese street scenes and a projector showing anime on a blank wall. It feels like a place that belongs in New York or Tokyo. Open only about a month, it’s a welcome addition to Hollywood Boulevard. Be warned there are only a half dozen tables inside and a handful outside. There are always bar stools at both the sushi bar and a long counter along the wall. The menu offers a typical mix of Thai and Sushi. Thai dinners, which come with soup or salad, include curries, stir fry, teriyaki and more. Sushi rolls are both basic and a collection of specialty offerings that are pricey, starting at $14. We started with an order of shiitake vegetable gyoza, opting for steamed over fried. The dumplings, with mushrooms, carrots and shrimp, were a tasty and light starter. An order of pad thai with chicken and shrimp had a nice peanut flavor and a good ratio of protein to noodles, but it could have used a little spice. The Max roll, with tempura shrimp, avocado, asparagus, spinach, lettuce, crunchies and topped with special sauce and grilled shrimp, was a substantial roll with lots of seafood. A rainbow roll was average and could have used bigger pieces of fish. Staff is incredibly friendly and eager to please. We hope they continue to up their game and draw a crowd to Hello Sushi.