Tucked away in strip malls across Jacksonville are some of the city’s best restaurants.
And four of those are named in Yelp’s first guide to the top 100 restaurants in Florida recently released. One of them — Catullo’s Italian — even cracked the list’s Top 10.
According to Yelp, rankings were determined by a number of factors, including the total volume and ratings of reviews from Jan. 1, 2017, to April 13 of this year.
Here’s a look at the Jacksonville restaurants named to the list.
From a life on the streets to settling down:Jacksonville food trucks make the leap to brick-and-mortar restaurants
Dinner with a view:10 of our favorite rooftop dining restaurants in Jacksonville
1650-2 San Pablo Road S.
At No. 10, Catullo’s is the highest-ranked Jacksonville restaurant, sharing company with those from Coral Gables, Orlando, Pensacola, Miami, Naples, Tampa and others.
The restaurant, located at the Walmart Neighborhood Market-anchored Village Shoppes of San Pablo, comes from brothers Carl and Dave Catullo, who rolled out their Italian concept in 2016 with a food truck. Three years later they opened their first restaurant, serving fresh-from-scratch Italian cuisine using authentic family recipes, including ravioli, tortellini, lasagna and pappardelle.
Favorite dishes include Gnocchi Catullo, described as “fluffy little potato pasta pillows, cooked in our fresh sage and Calabrian chili alfredo sauce”; Chicken Capricciosa, described as the “closest thing you’re gonna get to anything “Parm” here!”; and Pear Fiocchi, made with egg pasta filled with fresh pear along with three kinds of Italian cheese topped with a cream sauce including caramelized pear, Gorgonzola and goat cheese and fried Prosciutto di Carpegna.
The Catullos announced late last year plans to open a second restaurant at Nocatee Town Center in Ponte Vedra Beach. A late 2022 or early 2023 opening is expected.
Restaurant review:Catullo’s finds new home for family delicacies
Hana Moon Sushi
11531 San Jose Blvd.
Across town in the heart of Mandarin is Hana Moon Sushi, ranking 38th on Yelp’s list. Located in a small, nondescript strip center, the 2-year-old restaurant stands out for its sushi, service and positive energy, according to reviewer Caron Streibich.
The restaurant’s signature Hana Moon roll is a work of art. “Soy paper instead of seaweed embraces a medley of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, cucumber and avocado. Dotted with red tobiko and perched atop a mix of sauces, it was as pretty as it was delicious,” Streibich wrote.
Other sushi favorites include the Naruto roll and Jacksonville roll, with its tempura-shrimp-and-cream-cheese interior and savory toasted spicy krab and crunch exterior.
Restaurant review:New Mandarin Japanese spot Hana Moon is on a roll
8595 Beach Blvd.
A fixture at the Rowe’s IGA-anchored Promenade at Beach Boulevard for more than 14 years, Balkan Cafe checks in at No. 76 on Yelp’s list.
The family-run restaurant offers a flavorful cuisine with a Hungarian and Slavic influence, then-reviewer Mike Field wrote in 2020. Newcomers should opt for the Balkan Mix, a dish offering a sample of all the grilled meats offered on the menu wrapped in a large, warm pita.
You don’t pick up the pita all at once, Field noted. Instead, tear off small pieces and wrap them around a piece of meat along with grilled slices of onion, red pepper and mushroom to make small, pig-in-a-blanket-like morsels.
Restaurant review:Balkan Café blends culture, family and food
Sweet Sushi & Grill
14965 Old St Augustine Road
And in South Jacksonville you’ll find No. 92 on the list, Sweet Sushi & Grill at Durbin Crossing.
Opened just over a year ago, Sweet Sushi offers authentic Japanese cuisine, including Hibachi Filet Mignon, Tempura Shrimp, Peanut Avocado Roll and Sweet Heart Roll, according to its website.
Since its opening, it has earned a five-star review average from Yelp reviewers.
Support from readers like you makes our coverage of Jacksonville’s growing dining scene possible. If you’re not already a subscriber, now is a great time to support local journalism. Here’s how to subscribe.