With elements of a friendly Roman trattoria in the heart of Las Olas, Gran Forno Pronto serves up authentic Italian comfort food in a fresh and informal atmosphere. Wood fired pizza, award-winning Ciabatta, modest prices and an extensive wine list.
This attractive main street bistro serves more than just pasta and sandwiches. Sit on the terrace and people watch, or take a table inside under large black-and-white photographs, and enjoy pan-seared Canadian salmon or a classic eggplant parmigiana. The mozzarella is made in-house.
Valentino’s cheaper cousin (and occupying its former space), this warm, neighborhood place offers an array of pizzas (including prosciutto with shaved Parmesan and arugula) as well as other tempting Italian dishes. The eggplant sliced thin, fried and layered like lasagna is a popular item.
Traditional Italian cuisine in a casual atmosphere. For lunch, enjoy a selection of pastas, panini and salads. For dinner, Chilean sea bass, rack of lamb or Bistecca Alla Fiorentina (a 32 oz. USDA prime T-bone steak).
Steve Martorano got his start hawking Italian sandwiches out of his basement in Philly. But his strip-mall restaurant a few blocks from the beach went upscale, and diners wait hours during season for a table (Martorano famously turned away Madonna’s entourage when she refused to wait outside). Those willing to wait find Italian classics dressed up with top-notch ingredients, like the eggplant stack featuring some of the crispiest breaded eggplant slices you’ll find sandwiched between fresh-pulled mozzarella. Not everyone will be down with the gangster movies showing on the overhead TVs, the dance music, or the women who sometimes take to the tables and dance. If you’re the type to like that kind of people watching, you’ll also find some of South Florida’s most soulful food.
Open seven days a week since it debuted in 1989, Zuckerello’s still has its original owner and chefs in place pumping out home-style Italian. Expect to find traditional dishes like zuppa di clams, fried calamari, and house-made meatballs, along with pasta such as penne alla vodka, crab ravioli, lasagna, and linguine with clam sauce. Large booths can accommodate family-size parties, and the casual-elegant vibe will keep you lounging long after you finish eating. Red and dark gray walls adorned with lively paintings are complemented by glossy wood tabletops and chairs in a contrasting shade of wood. House specialties like veal Marsala, chicken Milanese, and panko-breaded eggplant Parmesan are affordable and come in shareable portions. Fish lovers should try the herb-crusted salmon in orange beurre blanc sauce.
Begin with the colossal stone crab claws or homemade meatballs before choosing between lobster and shrimp Fra Diavolo and a 10 oz. barrel-cut filet mignon. Or perhaps you’d prefer apple cider-marinated pork chops. For dessert, there’s vanilla bean crème brulee and chocolate soufflé.
Calabrian owner Tony Cupelli brings his family’s ancient recipes to this chic, modern Las Olas eatery. There’s pan-fried rigatoni with meatballs and specialty pizzas topped with smoked mozzarella, Italian sausage, eggplant and parsley. Cupelli’s pollo alla Francese in white wine-lemon sauce pairs with Venetian pinot grigio.
Owner and Chef Angelo Elia has created a South Florida restaurant empire out of his original North Federal location. His dishes are punctuated by an attention toward great ingredients, like the branzino, so fresh it needs nothing more than a light butter sauce. The outstanding antipasti includes truffle-lemon carpaccio and pancetta-wrapped tiger prawns over broccoli rabe, and the fresh pasta is made in-house. Or go big with the oak-grilled NY strip, marinated in olive oil, garlic, and rosemary.
Who says no to good, authentic Italian food? This restaurant serves a diverse selection of pizza, paninis and more – along with a good selection of beer and wine . The Italian flavors continue into dessert, with many flavors of gelato to choose from. (For a more old fashioned American taste, they’ll also do milkshakes.) All these Old World flavors also come with some New World technology – go to the website and you can download the Dolce Salato app.
A coastal Italian concept by Chef Fabio Viviani, Riviera recently opened in the Hotel Maren on Fort Lauderdale Beach. From the veranda-style patio to the delectable food, the Italian authenticity is felt throughout. You can also take in the salty air and sea-and-city views as it is located on the rooftop of the hotel.
Louie Bossi is not your typical chef. Growing up in an Italian household in New York he remembers the aromas of roasted garlic and fresh meatballs sizzling from his family’s kitchen. Raised by a single mother juggling three jobs, Bossi taught himself to cook at the age of eight. Working his way from dishwasher to cook at the local pizzeria Bossi developed a love for the art of pizza making.
Chef Dario De Pasquale was born in Battipaglia, Italy, and from a young age developed a love for pizza. Before coming to America he worked as a chef in different parts of Italy including Capaccio, Salerno and along the Amalfi Coast. Menu items at his new locale reflect that experience and include homemade meatballs, capriciosa (tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, salami, ham, mushrooms, artichokes and olives) and gnocchi alla Sorrentina, as well as a full pizza menu.
Il Paesano emphasizes fresh ingredients, quality food and spreading love. There’s no set menu, only daily specials determined by the fresh ingredients that are found in the market. During the week there are about 15 to 16 different dishes. And owner Vergilio Peixoto has no freezers; from the pasta to the tomato sauce, everything is made fresh in-house. Il Paesano’s chef formerly owned Vesuvio, which was a popular Italian restaurant in Fort Lauderdale back in its heyday.
Il Paesano has a wide variety of wines and the private wine room can also be used as a more intimate setting for couples to dine. (There have been marriage proposals, Peixoto reports.) And if you want to know more about wine, Peixoto hosts a winetasting class every month. But be quick – the classes tend to fill up within minutes of being announced.