June 28, 2024

Jamaican Jerk Hut & Island Scoops Combines Caribbean Roots and American Twists into a Vibrant Menu

5.3 min read| Published On: June 28th, 2024|

By Cindy Peterson

Jamaican Jerk Hut & Island Scoops Combines Caribbean Roots and American Twists into a Vibrant Menu

5.3 min read| Published On: June 28th, 2024|

Jamaican Jerk Hut & Island Scoops has brought a vibrant splash of Caribbean flavors to the local food scene. 

The restaurant, owned and operated by Rowan and Renae Dallas, is known for bold flavors created by blending Jamaican heritage with American cuisine.

The couple ventured into the restaurant industry in 1999 by opening Jam-USA Restaurant and Variety in Massachusetts, but they barely had time to build a following. 

“We were only in business for a year due to location and, surprise, I got pregnant three months after opening,” Renae says. “We weren’t in the position at the time in our young lives to maintain family and balance business with four children, so we closed in August of 2000.”

In 2016, Rowan and Renae retired to Florida. But someone couldn’t sit still.

“I came down here to retire, but I got bored fast,” Rowan says. “So, I started a food trailer in Clermont.”

For the next seven years, the couple traveled all over Florida for corporate lunches, private parties, block parties, concerts and festivals, becoming widely known for their savory Jamaican dishes. 

In 2022, they finally decided to open a restaurant featuring their trademark Jamaican fare and Island Scoops ice cream featuring flavors you’d find in Jamaica, like grapenut and rum raisin, along with American favorites like red velvet, toasted coconut, banana cream pie and Superman.

“After doing some research we found that the Fruitland Park, Leesburg and The Villages area was lacking Caribbean food,” Renae says. “We decided at that moment to relocate our business to this area.”

We, as in family. Everyone who works at the restaurant is family in some way. Rowan and Renae’s daughters and cousin work the front of the house, and a nephew and cousin take care of business in the back.  

Tayana Dallas, Rowan Dallas, Renae Dallas and Alexandria Dallas

The menu at Jamaican Jerk Hut & Island Scoops reflects Rowan’s Jamaican heritage.

“I learned to cook growing up with the boys in Jamaica,” he says. “We’d pool our money, buy ingredients, and cook together. This is the way it was in Jamaica. The boys on your street were sort of like your gang, only with no violence. We cooked together.” 

Renae infuses her American background into the dishes to craft a unique “Ja’merican” menu.

Guests can savor “big tings a gwan” (main entrees) such as oxtail, curry goat, smoked jerk hut chicken, brown stew chicken, BBQ chicken, jerk hut pork, BBQ jerk ribs, snapper fish and curry shrimp or chicken. All meals are served with choice of sides like rice and peas, baked beans, mac and cheese, cabbage, collard greens or green beans. 

A new menu item is the Jamaican-style meatloaf, which is Nana’s traditional recipe with some Jamaican flare. There’s also the new mac and cheese bowl with a comfort-size portion of five cheese mac and cheese topped with pulled jerk chicken or pulled pork, and bar-bi-fried chicken tossed in a sweet and spicy barbecue sauce. Want their famous smoked meats as a sandwich? Try their pulled jerk chicken, pulled pork, fried chicken breast, buffalo chicken or fried fish on a kaiser roll, served with French fries. 

They also serve all-day breakfast of ackee and saltfish, or callaloo and saltfish, with a choice of rice or boiled food and fried sweet plantains. 

For appetizers, they offer Jamaican patties in beef, chicken or veggie, with options of adding coco bread and cheese. They also have island tacos with choice of jerk chicken, pulled pork or shrimp, and island nachos loaded with choice of pulled jerk chicken or pulled pork. 

Desserts include traditional Jamaican black cake and American favorites like red velvet cake and cheesecake. And don’t forget the ice cream. 

Jamaican Jerk Hut & Island Scoops recently received its beer and wine license and will be adding bingo and karaoke to its event list. A celebration in honor of Jamaican Independence Day is also planned with special menu items, festive music and a true island party atmosphere. Look for that the first week of August.  


Jamaican Oxtail

  • 5 lbs. oxtail
  • 1 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. all-purpose seasoning
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. browning
  • 1 scallion
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 1/4 cup red pepper
  • 1/4 cup green pepper
  • 6 fresh garlic cloves
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper or habanero (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of corn oil or canola oil
  • 1 can of butter beans
  • few sprigs of thyme
  1. Rinse oxtail with vinegar and water.
  2. Pat dry.
  3. Add soy sauce, all purpose, onion powder, garlic powder, browning and minced garlic.
  4. Fresh herbs and spices should be prepped and left to the side.
  5. Massage seasonings into oxtail.
  6. Best if marinated overnight or minimum of 2 hours.
  7. In a large Dutch oven, place fire on medium/high.
  8. Heat Dutch oven for 3 minutes and then add oil.
  9. Heat oil for another 3 minutes and begin adding the oxtail.
  10. Cover.
  11. Brown meat 20-30 minutes, occasionally flipping the pieces of oxtail until they are brown on all sides. Be careful not to let it burn!
  12. Once the meat has browned on all sides, add enough water to just cover the meat.
  13. Cover and place fire on medium/low.
  14. About an hour after adding water, add fresh onion, garlic, thyme, scallion, and red/green pepper.
  15. Stir and cover.
  16. Cook on medium for another 45 minutes or until oxtail is tender.
  17. Serve with Jamaican rice & peas. 

Jamaican Escovitch Fish

Fun Fact: The name “escovitch” comes from the Spanish word “escabeche,” which means “marinated.”

  • 4 whole red snapper
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 scotch bonnet (optional to taste)
  • few sprigs of thyme per fish
  • fish seasoning or salt and pepper, as per taste
  • oil for cooking
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 onion, sliced in rings
  • 1/2 each, green and red bell pepper, julienned
  • 2/3 cup vinegar
  • 10 pimento berries
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 scotch bonnet pepper, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup oil for cooking
  1. Clean fish with fresh lime or vinegar and water and pat dry.
  2. Score each fish with 3 slices on both sides and season each fish with seafood seasoning, fish seasoning, or salt and pepper.
  3. Add oil to a shallow frying pan, allow to heat on medium/high 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add thyme (be careful, oil will pop), garlic cloves, and scotch bonnet pepper (optional).
  5. Coat fish in flour.
  6. Shake off excess flour.
  7. Fry for 7 minutes on each side and place on a paper towel or wire rack to drain excess oil.
  8. To make escovitch sauce, discard all but 1/4 cup of the oil you fried the fish in, place fire on medium and sauté onion & peppers for 1 minute, add vinegar and sauté for another minute.
  9. Place on fried fish as a topping, serve and enjoy. 

Jamaican Smoked Jerk Chicken 

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 inch of ginger (chopped) or 1 tsp. of ginger powder
  • 6 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp. browning
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper or habanero (I suggest using half for a mild spice. 1 whole pepper may be too spicy for most people)
  • 1/2 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 small handful of allspice berries (approximately 10-15)
  • 3 1/2 lbs. of chicken quarters
    (legs & thighs)
  • 5 Tbsp. jerk marinade
  • 1 tsp. all-purpose seasoning
  • 1 tsp. chicken seasoning
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  1. Put all the jerk marinade ingredients into a blender or food processor and pulse until ingredients are well blended and form a paste.
  2. If you prefer a more textured marinade that is chunkier than liquid (this will make a milder flavor), pulse/blend for 10 seconds.
  3. Add your marinade, all-purpose seasoning, poultry seasoning, paprika, and onion and garlic powder and massage it into the chicken.
  4. Marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Place on the grill and cook 20-30 minutes.
  6. Flip and repeat.
  7. Chicken is cooked once internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  8. I like mine well done, but not burnt. I usually cook mine to 195 degrees.
  9. Serve with hard dough bread or Jamaican festival. 

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About the Author: Cindy Peterson

Originally from the small town of Berryville, Arkansas, Cindy has become a multimedia specialist in journalism, photography, videography, and video editing. She has a B.S. in Communications from the University of Central Arkansas and produces Style Magazine's Sports Hub Podcast and the Healthy Living Podcast. She also produces for Beacon College’s Telly Award-winning PBS show, “A World of Difference.” When she isn’t working, Cindy loves traveling the National Parks with her husband , Ryan, and son, David, photographing wildlife.

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