Northern Italian food is not meant to be complicated food. A perusal of the Rossini Bar & Grill menu is not a journey into previously unknown dishes as much as it’s a tour through the traditional dishes of (mostly) the north of Italy. Chef Matteo Migliorini offers a few flourishes, but primarily what he offers are quality dishes, done well.
For owner Valentino Mitaj, this is what the restaurant business is all about. He takes a yeoman’s approach to food and restaurants. This is what he knows, and he wants to provide good value.
“I’ve got good experience in restaurants, I’ve been doing it all my life,” he says. “That’s what I do, restaurants. I’m not an engineer or any other whatever whatever.”
He didn’t do culinary school – “I learn by working for so long,” he says. He wants to charge fair prices and let people come out for a meal even when times are tight.
“I’m looking to make it a good opportunity (for customers). I’m not trying to ride over in a Bentley.”
Providing value isn’t easy at the moment, he says. Food costs are ridiculous; the supply chain issues that are hitting so much of the world are biting hard in the restaurant industry. “It’s a difficult time,” he says.
There’s a good chance you’ll get to meet Mitaj if you go into the restaurant; he’s there seven days a week, he says.
And he’d like to meet you. Mitaj, who worked and owned restaurants for many years in Michigan before heading south, enjoys running places for locals. If tourists find him, great. But he’s not on the beach or one of the hot new downtown locations, he’s on Federal Highway in Coral Ridge.
“I’m looking for the locals,” he says.
He’s looking to do a few new things in the future – brunch on weekends, maybe an American-style breakfast and lunch. Even for the main menu, he might like to add a few more American-style dishes.“I want to keep it a little bit of both, even in the evenings,” he says. “I’m working on it.”
He loves good Italian food, but he’s not here to be a purist.
“I’m here to do what the customer wants, what the customer likes,” he says. The other day, a couple came in; she wanted Italian food, he wanted breakfast. Chef said sorry, we don’t do that. Mitaj said hey, we’ve got potatoes, we’ve got bacon, we’ve got eggs. “And we make the customer happy,” he says.
“I don’t like to tell a customer no no no,” he says. “I like to tell you, yes sir, here you are, we appreciate your business.”
The Dish: Lobster Risotto
- 8 oz lobster tail
- 3 oz scallops
- 3 oz shrimp
- 3 oz clams
- 3 oz mussels
- 3 oz calamari
- 100 ml white wine
- 100 ml fish stock (branzino)
- 100 ml tomato sauce
- 1 tb garlic, sliced
- 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 6 oz risotto
- 1 red pepper
Add garlic with extra virgin olive oil to a pan. Add lobster, clams, mussels, calamari, shrimp and scallops. Add the white wine, vegetables and fish stock. Cook for 10 minutes or until the seafood is fully cooked.
Boil the risotto. When it’s cooked al dente, it’s ready to serve. Add parsley, pepper and salt to taste.