Last year, Fort Lauderdale Magazine took diners on a culinary tour of our increasingly vibrant Fort Lauderdale restaurant scene. The inaugural DINE Fort Lauderdale series took participants to a handful of top restaurants, then topped things off with a fusion dinner where chefs from all participants got together for a multi-course meal, paired with wines from Oregon’s prestigious King Estate Winery. We had so much fun that we’ve decided to do it again this spring. Come along to DINE Fort Lauderdale and you’ll have some great meals, culminating in a fusion dinner where all our chefs get together at the Grateful Palate Catering and Events to create an unforgettable multi-course experience.
An event such as DINE Fort Lauderdale is fun for chefs and restaurateurs because the city has a supportive, collaborative restaurant scene, says Shooters Waterfront director of operations Peter Lopez. “There’s a great culinary scene now in Fort Lauderdale,” he says. “In Fort Lauderdale, it’s still very closely knit.”
DINE Fort Lauderdale also benefits local not-for-profit Arc Culinary, an organization that trains people with disabilities and other life challenges in the food industry, and then helps them find jobs.
“It’s an inspiring way to work together with our peers and to give back to the community in a way that makes a real difference,” says Capital Grille managing partner Danielle Crawley.
So, who’s taking part?
The Capital Grille
The Capital Grille’s part of the growing group elevating the dining scene at the Galleria. For the restaurant, DINE Fort Lauderdale is a natural fit.
“At The Capital Grille, we take pride in making the guest experience one of truly personalized service,” says managing partner Danielle Crawley. “Participating in the dinner series is another way we can further bring that personal touch to Fort Lauderdale and showcase our commitment to serving up the highest level of hospitality in everything we do.”
The restaurant does a mean steak, but calling it a steakhouse risks missing a diverse and daring menu.
Guests, Crawley says, “know us for our expertly prepared dry-aged steaks, which are hand-cut by the restaurant’s in-house butcher, as well as a diverse menu of fresh seafood and classic appetizers with a twist.” Of the latter, she mentions dishes such as the pan-fried calamari with hot cherry peppers.
And in addition to the kitchen, they’ve also thought quite a bit about the bar. “We round out the dining experience with attention to pairing our food with hand-crafted cocktails and highly sought-after wines,” Crawley says. “In fact, our award-winning wine list, which includes more than 350 selections, is curated by our advanced sommelier.”
Shooters Waterfront & the Grateful Palate Catering and Events
Shooters Waterfront director of operations Peter Lopez likes to say that Shooters Waterfront has grown up along with Fort Lauderdale. The waterfront Intracoastal institution, legendary as a loud and brash party spot during the 1980s Spring Break heyday, has today fully reinvented itself as a casual but upmarket place with expansive outdoor seating and a sister spot, the Grateful Palate Catering and Events, that caters to private events. The reinvention has worked; the proof is in the crowds coming through the door. “If I would have had a nickel a couple years ago every time somebody said ‘I haven’t been to Shooters Waterfront in years,” Lopez says. “We’ve been able to get them back in. We’ve grown up from the days of the past. We embrace the past, but our future is one we celebrate.”
That future – and present – includes a completely renovated upstairs space for private dining in four different rooms. The menu’s evolved. Florida classics are sometimes done with a twist, as with the key lime baked Alaska. Fresh seafood is a big part of the offer, and they like trying new things. One popular recent addition is paella cooked in stations right out on the dock. That works particularly well for a place that has the space to cater to big parties.
“Most restaurants don’t really like working with parties of 8 or larger,” Lopez says. “We welcome it.”
Valentino Cucina Italiana & One Door East
Valentino Cucina Italiana brings old school Italian cooking methods into the 21st century by drawing on the best of the past with the launch of their latest menu. The restaurant’s menu comes in response to increased demand for quintessential Italian classics with a whimsical touch, adding depth to each plate.
The restaurant opened its doors in 2006 and moved to its current location at 620 S Federal Highway in 2012. The restaurant became a steady success, though in a nondescript location, it was the best kept secret of local foodies. Six years later the concept moved to a new location, creating the new Valentino Cucina Italiana that provides innovative cuisine with a modern Italian twist to South Florida dining.
Staying true to the roots and practices that have made Valentino Cucina Italiana a South Florida hotspot and trailblazer over the past 12 years, the refreshed menu features customer favorites such as Charred Octopus and the restaurant’s most popular dish, house-made Ricotta Cavatelli with braised veal osso buco, porcini mushrooms, bone marrow and tomato – along with the addition of classic Italian dishes with a modern Italian twist. New menu items include perennial dishes such as veal medallion with potato fondant, parmigiano panna cotta, carrot, garlic and pickled onion, plus a selection of new pastas including tagliatelle topped with bolognese sauce, tomato and parmesan; agnolotti carbonara made with pancetta, farm fresh egg and black pepper; Orecchiette with spicy pork sausage, broccoli rabe, oven-dried tomato and pecorino; and Chicken Scarpariello with roasted fingerling potato, rosemary, piquillo pepper and black olive.
Ten years after the inception of Valentino Cucina Italiana, its sister restaurant One Door East was born. The global tapas concept is heavily influenced by Asian, European, African, North and South American cuisines.
The restaurant, located “one door east” to its Italian counterpart, recently revamped their menu with dishes such as Octopus a la Plancha with crispy potato, chorizo sofrito and parsley – as well as Grilled Maitake Mushroom with creamy goat cheese and guajillo and white balsamic vinaigrette.
While there have been new additions to the menu, one thing remains though, their locally sourced ingredients. They want to maintain their local flavor as much as possible by partnering with farms.
Longtime South Florida restaurateur, owner and chef Angelo Elia established his flagship restaurant, Casa D’Angelo, in 1998 with the idea of bringing food prepared according to Old World traditions straight from the heart of Italy, to Fort Lauderdale. Born in Salerno, Italy, Angelo was first taught to cook by his mother in their home kitchen. Both of his parents (his father was a local butcher) instilled in him the importance of using only locally gathered meats and fish, growing garden-fresh herbs, and baking breads from scratch. Angelo hand-selects the freshest, seasonal ingredients and artfully prepares them in an inviting setting of warmth and sophistication. He offers a carefully curated list of wines that has been masterfully chosen to create an extensive wine list from every region around the world. Casa D’Angelo has earned tremendous praise and recognition over the years being recognized with a number of awards, including Zagat’s America’s Top Restaurants and Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence for more than ten consecutive years. Angelo is looking forward to taking part in this year’s DINE Fort Lauderdale, bringing to the table the best of what has earned Casa D’Angelo the title as a Fort Lauderdale staple.