No wheels are reinvented at Scolapasta Bistro and Pasta Shop. They don’t fuse cuisines with other cuisines, you’ve almost certainly heard of every dish on the menu and there’s no big new concept being put forward. “People ask what are you doing different?”owner Denise Silvano says. “I’m not doing anything different, there’s no mystery here. I’m just doing old fashioned stuff. This is all peasant food.”
She focuses more on doing food the right way, the way she wants to. “I don’t have walk in freezers, I only have one freezer,” she says. “I go to markets a lot.”
Then there’s the different kinds of pasta, all made on site. She sometimes infuses her pastas with juices or powerfoods – it adds to the nutritional content and makes them colorful, she says.
The daughter of Italian immigrants makes her food just a bit lighter. Meatballs made of eggplant? Try it, you might like it. But while that might seem like a smart move for health-conscious modern diners, it also goes back to that peasant-food ethos – meat wasn’t always in ready supply, so meatless meatballs were common. “We ate a lot of meatless dishes, which is popular now,” she says. “It was just a way of life back then.”
The restaurant sits on NE 33rd Street in the busy section of Galt Ocean Mile that features a number of popular restaurants and bars. With its exposed brick walls and barnwood bar, it gives off the impression of a place you might stumble across down a side street on vacation. A large blackboard reveals the specials that are constantly changing.
In Italy, her family’s food is farm-to-table in the truest sense.
“In Salerno in Italy where my family is from, we still have a little farm and a little butchers shop,” she says.
It’s not quite so easy for Silvano, but in the years the restaurant’s been open, she’s cultivated relationships with small food sellers that allow her to get a steady supply of fresh, locally sourced foods.
It’s a way of doing business that has earned the little restaurant a loyal following. In last year’s Fort Lauderdale Magazine Best of Fort Lauderdale awards, readers voted Scolapasta the city’s best restaurant.
When somebody told Silvano the restaurant won, she thought they were joking or confusing hers for another place. For a restaurant that closed for 8 months during the pandemic, it was a remarkable turnaround and a testament to loyal customers
“It’s not a big organization, it’s run like a family, and I think they appreciate that.”