Aventura - Sunny Isles

7 things we’ll miss about the Aventura Mall food court

Chicken Kitchen was one of more than a dozen restaurants in the food court at Aventura Mall.
Chicken Kitchen was one of more than a dozen restaurants in the food court at Aventura Mall. File/2010

Where else but the mall food court can you get a mound of Asian noodles with a side of pepperoni pizza?

For now, South Florida will have one fewer place to mix and match.

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One of the biggest arrays of food windows, Treats at Aventura Mall, was scheduled to shut down on Sunday to make way for a three-story complex of shops and restaurants, including a new food court. For the next year and a half of demolition and construction, mall customers will be without one of the true pleasures of shopping: heading to the food court to take a break to stuff the face.

So, for now, farewell to food court survivors Mama B’s Pizza, Pasha’s, Che Pasta and Five Guys. Goodbye, Charley’s Subs, Asian Chao and Ruby’s Thai Kitchen, Chicken Kitchen, Chicken Now. See you later, Salsa Grill, Tango Grill, Cajun Grill.

So what will we miss most about the food court that has been at the mall since it opened at Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 195th Steet in 1983?

1. The smell. Anyone who walked in and breathed deeply could appreciate the mix of food aromas that made deciding on dinner so difficult. How can we describe it? Well, it was a mix of meat, cheese, beans, stir fry, French fries, burritos.

2. The variety. See smell above. The food court dished out the fancy: salmon platters and rib baskets. And the not so fancy: fried rice, bourbon chicken, burgers.

3. The birds. They entered through the automatic doors and flew among the rafters and hopped from table to table looking for crumbs.

4. The family bathroom. Any parent knew that these do-it-all loos were perfect for any situation: toddler daughter with dad, young son with mom, overflowing diaper, sudden gas after a food-court meal.

5. The free samples. A stroll around the perimeter of the food court to look at the offerings would trigger one of the cashiers sticking a tooth-picked meat sample in your face. “Try it!” We did. Again. And again.

6. The maitre d'. Yes, you read that right. For years, Gino Gaetano helped tidy up the place and guided customers to open seats, not to mention play a piano. He always wore a suit jacket and tie.

7. The neon. The Treats sign. The restaurant signs. It was our own mini-Vegas of victuals.

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