Chicken marsala, veal picatta, meatballs, and Milanese are what’s for dinner at owner and Chef Marco Vico’s Fort Lauderdale fixture, voted one of America’s 1,000-best Italian restaurants by Zagat. Indulge in hearty bowls of pasta fagioli, lasagna that features a mix of meat sauce and béchamel. The ambiance is like a resplendent Tuscan villa, complete with walls adorned with old family photos.
The people who brought Warsaw Coffee Company to increasingly cool NE 13th Street have opened a cocktail lounge and cafe in the same building. The clubby sophistication of the well-appointed, wood-paneled space is matched by a menu of breakfast, lunch, dinner and bar bites – as well as the weekend daytime hours’ bottomless brunch. A standout cocktail menu includes treats like the Sailor to Pirate, a rum old-fashioned that transforms into a pina colada served with torched cinnamon sticks.
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.
Anthony Bruno, of Runway 84, opened this pizza joint in 2002 because he couldn’t find the “well done” pizzas of his native New York here in Fort Lauderdale. The flagship location has since become a nationwide chain. Ashy flavor permeates the crust of pies like the “Paul & Young Ron,” piled with meatballs, sausage, ricotta, and hot or sweet peppers. Oven-roasted chicken wings and salads round out the menu, and beer and wine are served.
A familiar face on the local restaurant scene has brought a new place to Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. The name Vincent Foti will be familiar to many. Now the restaurateur behind longtime Federal Highway favorite Kitchenetta is taking his talents to East Commercial with a place that’s aiming to do something a bit different. Vinny’s by the Sea offers many of the Italian favorites that Foti’s built his reputation on. But this time, they’ll come with more American flare in a casual place where diners can have a beer, watch the game and relax Lauderdale-By-The-Sea style. In keeping with the its location just in from Anglin’s Pier, the restaurant will offer a raw bar. There’s also a pizza bar if you want to keep up on your pie as it’s being made – and a number of TVs if you’re more concerned about the Marlins’ playoff chances than your meal prep. If you need a more ample serving, the “Big Shot” menu is there for your outsize needs.
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.
Kitchenetta was opened in 2004 by chef Vincent Foti and wife Maria as a come-as-you-are casual eatery that pumps out top-notch Italian fare with a modern touch. The menu rotates seasonally and includes as many organic and local ingredients as possible. Individual and family-sized portions are offered, so you can mangia some rigatoni bolognese de medici all by yourself or share with your favorite famiglia.
A Fort Lauderdale staple since 1982, this Italian-American eatery will bring you back to Sunday dinners at your Nana’s house – if you’re Italian, that is. Expect Sinatra to play in the background as Chianti flows and platters of shrimp oreganata, veal Francaise, and zuppa di pesce are shared family-style. Intimate meals also work inside Runway’s setting, with its low lighting and mellow atmosphere. Don’t miss the Sicilian stuffed peppers (served cold with red wine vinegar and stuffed with bread crumbs, capers, olives, anchovies, and grated cheese), and the plump meatballs with marinara. Big-time diners will want the surf and turf entree, a combination of New York strip and South African lobster tail.
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.
This tapas-style restaurant is more casual than its sister restaurants in the growing Angelo Elia empire, but it still provides first-class elegance and healthy portions of both light and hearty Italian fare. Tapas range from familiar to exotic: buffalo mozzarella with prosciutto di Parma, tempura zucchini flowers with mozzarella, and grilled provolone over radicchio. Escarole and beans with roasted sweet Italian sausage is full of flavor, and every pizza is delicate and thin-crusted, just like you’d find in Napoli. Try the basilico bruschetta, served in traditional style with diced tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, and pair it with a bold bottle of red Tuscan wine.
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).
Chef/owner Rino Cerbone opened Heritage FTL to share cooking styles from his childhood and recipes from his family. Some menu items worth trying are the Gnocchi Marsala (house-made gnocchi, wild mushrooms, peas and Marsala cream) and Squash Blossom + Cold Pulled Burrata (with hand-crushed tomatoes, olive oil and basil). The restaurant is currently open for takeout in the evenings.
The lunch menu at this Italian restaurant offers sandwiches, brick oven pizzas and pasta dishes, while the dinner menu includes pasta, meat and seafood specials. For dinner, the restaurant also offers anelli, folded pizza crusts with savory fillings, and calzones.
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.
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.
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.