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Boca's Weekly Dish!
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CHEF JEAN PIERRE’S COOKING SCHOOL
VS. CHEF ANGELO (From Casa De Angelo Restaurant) A COOKOFF!

Chef Jean Pierre’s Cooking School
1436 North Federal Highway
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
954-563-2700

Casa De Angelo Restaurante
1201 North Federal Highway
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
954-564-1234

Chef Jean Pierre’s Cooking School is a terrific place to go to learn different cooking techniques and different recipes. You sit like you are at a cooking show, bringing your own wine, and are entertained by Chef Jean Pierre while he is cooking whatever it is he is cooking that night. He has a long history of restaurant ownership in the Ft. Lauderdale area with a French flair.

Casa De Angelo Restaurante is a wonderful Italian restaurant. I received an email a few weeks ago that both chefs were going to compete in an unusual cook-off to see whose food people enjoyed the most. Since I had never done anything like this, I decided to attend.

When I arrived, I was seated with 7 total strangers, who quickly became good acquaintances. I’d like to mention their names. Dining with me was David Morrow, Orazio Spagnardi, Marilyn Lettman, Bob and Dianne Congdon, and Michelle Handel joined by Joseph Herman. We really entertained ourselves with comparing the foods that were served us.

First course was (Italian) Arborio Risotto with fresh roasted Porcini mushrooms, Reggiano cheese and Rosemary infused with white Truffle oil. The wine that was served with that course was Borgo Tesis/Fantinel Chardonnay 2007. The French first course was Bouillabaisse Risotto Saffron and Fennel Nage, served with Domaine Vocoret Chablis 2006.

The second course on the Italian side was Chilean Sea Bass with Crispy Zucchini Flowers and sweet Rock Shrimp, over Roasted Garlic and Lemon Zest and Prosecco wine sauce. The French offering for the second course was Pepper Crusted & Roasted Chilean Sea Bass, with a Carrot & Ginger Reduction, Roasted Garlic and Basil Oil, served over Roasted Beets and Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes.

The third Italian offering was Filet Mignon, crusted with black pepper potatoes over cauliflower puree, 12-year-old port wine reduction sauce with roasted black mission figs. With this course they served Ruffino Chianti Superiore 2007. On the French side was Roasted Filet Mignon, caramelized onion, Roquefort and port demi glaze, gruyere & goat cheese with potatoes au gratin, camembert butter and a buttered jumbo asparagus. The wine offering was Château Coufran 2005.

If that wasn’t enough, the final course as dessert….the Italian choice was a pistachio cream filled Bigne warm chocolate topped and served with maraschino wild cherries. The wine served as Dolce. The French choice was hazelnut crusted chocolate and banana pie served with a vanilla and rum crème anglaise boysenberry coulis, also served with Dolce dessert wine.

The service was excellent, the food was excellent and I rolled out of their at least 20 pounds heavier than I originally came. Boy…..what a meal! I would go onto www.chefjeanpierre.com to see if they are offering another night like this one. Boy was it GREAT!

Valentino’s Cucina Italiana
1145 South Federal Highway
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Phone: 954-523-5767

In speaking with people in the area, I kept hearing about a restaurant that would always come up in my various conversations that I had never been to. So…..I just had to go to Valentino’s Cucina Italiana Restaurante. If you didn’t know where you were going, you might never have seen this small, but quite excellent, restaurant. It is owned by Chef Giovanni Rocchio. I also would recommend making a reservation as it is VERY popular. Who knew? And now I know why.

My friend Ann and I shared the Tortelli Di Zucca, which is butternut squash, crushed amaretto cookies and pumpkin seeds in ravioli for our Antipasti. We literally licked the plate clean, they were so delicious!

For Ann’s main course she had the Pollo Alla Valentino which is chicken filled with spinach, white raisins, pine nuts, goat cheese and Portobello mushrooms. Boy….was that good! My choice was a special for the evening, Lobster Fra Diablo, which was also excellent.

As a dessert, we both shared a vanilla bean crème Brule served in an edible almond basket. This also had various fruits at the bottom of it. This is a keeper restaurant. One that will become one of my top restaurants in the Ft. Lauderdale area, for sure. Please go and Enjoy!

Bellini’s Coal Fired Pizza

You have never seen a pizza restaurant as pretty and upscale as this one. This is the newest restaurant in the Federal Highway between Sunrise Highway and Oakland Park Boulevard to open. It’s quite beautiful They even have an outside area to dine.

Paul and I were greeted by a hostess and seated at a beautiful table with chandeliers overhead. There is a bar area with white glass counters where you can sit and have a drink or even eat.

We both ordered small think crusted “make your own” pizzas. Mine was with meatballs, shaved mozzarella cheese and carmelized onions. It was absolutely cooked to perfection; thin and crispy. Paul ordered a Margherita pizza (fresh mozzarella cheese with fresh tomatoes and basil) but added Maine lobster ($4. extra), which was sautéed in butter, garlic and lemon. His was also cooked to perfection and quite delicious.

We were introduced to one of the owners, Matt, who was thrilled to meet us. He does have a partner in the business, Lou (he wasn’t there at the time). It is their first adventure in restaurants.

Besides pizzas, they offer hot appetizers such as truffled macaroni and cheese; sautéed broccoli rabe with extra virgin olive oil and carmelized onions with sausage; sautéed calamari marinara or even spicy fra diavolo; warm baked brie in puff pastry with apricot glaze and apple slices (which sounds really quite delectable); all types of salads; paninis made with “inside Out” Ciabatta bread (all served with a side Caesar salad or side mixed greens salad with creamy balsamic dressing); AND even chicken wings (served a variety of ways); and if that is not enough to choose from – there are main dishes such as penne a la vodka; capellini with house made meatballs; pounded chicken over spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes; ravioli served different ways; pan seared red snapper – oh my – such choices!!!!

Then there is pizza! All sorts, all sizes, thin crust (traditional white dough or even whole wheat dough) – small or large sized.

If that were not enough, they offer desserts – which of course Paul and I had to taste. Since Girl Scout camp – I haven’t had a “smore” made with homemade fresh marshmallows! If you have never had a smore – it’s graham crackers, melted chocolate and melted mushy marshmallows. My god – it’s better than “you know what!”

Try Bellini’s…..I think it’s great and that you will really enjoy!

Bellini’s Coal Fired Pizza
1535 North Federal Highway
Fort Lauderdale, FL
954-537-9006

Fusion & Flavors Restaurant

My friend Terri kept telling me about this great new restaurant across the street from the Coral Ridge Mall, called Fusion & Flavors Restaurant. It is a very small restaurant, which seats about 20 people, owned by a wonderful couple from Peru, Claudia and Miguel. Apparently Miguel had previously been a chef at an Italian restaurant as most of their options are typically Italian style. Not only do they serve wonderful and unique fusion of Italian dishes, but also high end Peruvian and international cuisine.

Well….I must tell you that you have to try this restaurant! The food is quite spectacular! You really cannot beat the prices also. We were six people that went to dinner the other night. Claudia serves and Miguel is the chef. First the Chef sent out a taste of Sauteed Salmon served on a slice of zucchini with a drop of olive oil, that was cooked to perfection. Two people in our party ordered the Clams and Spaghetti, $8.00, (they just about licked the bowl), I ordered the Chicken Parmigiana ($7.49) served with penne marinara. Terri and Marvel ordered the Steak Risotto ($7.49). I tasted the risotto, which was wonderfully creamy and rich. Mike ordered the Skirt Steak ($8.99), which is served with the Chef’s inspiration. Last night it was served with zucchini and yellow potato slices, which Mike thought tasted like potatoes from New Orleans. We were all quite pleased. Mike even took home a piece of their Chocolate Cake which he planned on having later on with a glass of milk at home.

AND….If you are interested, they are open for lunch. Prices for lunch are about $2.00 less than dinner prices!

I’m telling you….you cannot beat this place for good food, great owners, and the prices are unbelievable! YOU MUST TRY IT!

Fusion & Flavors Restaurant
3347 N. Federal Highway
Fort Lauderdale, FL
954.306.3215

Lola’s on Harrison

The other night my friend, Robert, and I had a dining experience that I have to tell you about! We went to Lola’s on Harrison Street in Hollywood. I had never been to Hollywood since I have been living in Florida (7 years). What an absolutely lovely area (if you have never been). It’s like what Las Olas Boulevard used to be, but no longer is.

We walked into a beautifully appointed modern restaurant, which is owned by Chef Michael Wagner and run by his General Manager, Heather Keenly. They were the friendliest people I had met in a restaurant in a long time. Heather sat with us for quite a while explaining how she and Chef Michael had met. Then Chef Michael came to sit down with us explaining his background and the concept of owning his own restaurant.

Hollywood offers many restaurants….but Lola’s is the only American restaurant in the area. Lola’s on Harrison offers fine choices of starters, such as Purple Potato Skins (sundried tomato crème fraiche, roasted garlic cloves, smoked bacon bits, chives and American sturgeon caviar (which was scrumptious!), “Falling Off the Bone” Beef Shortribs (roasted aromatic vegetables, orange-horseradish Gremolata, natural pan juices and ricotta salata (also terrific!), Maryland Blue Crab Cake (fresh lump crab meat, served with carrot-mango slaw and herb tartar sauce (unbelievable!....with no filling), and Warm Goat Cheese Salad (pistachio crusted goat cheese, fresh raspberries, arugula, Belgium endive, toasted pistachios and raspberry-shallot vinaigrette)….out of this world!!!!

The entrees are also fascinating offerings; such as Coca Cola BBQ Beef Ribs (slow roasted center cut beef ribs, basted with Lola’s signature Coca Cola BBQ sauce, served with buttermilk onion rings, and herb creamed yellow corn). You could die for these ribs! Also served was a Milk Fed Veal Chop Oscar (egg battered bone in veal rib chop, served with garlic roasted asparagus, sweet super lump crab meat with a delicious herb hollandaise sauce)! Is your mouth watering yet? They also offer as entrees: a Grilled Skirt Steak (which our neighbors next to us ordered) and it smelled yummy; Crispy Berkshire Pork Shank, Durham Ranch Buffalo Cheeseburger, Grilled Angus T-Bone Steak, Skillet Seared Salmon and Grilled Ruby Red Trout.

When I say that this restaurant was TERRIFIC!!!! I mean that it was OUTSTANDING and definitely worth the short trip to cutesy Hollywood. Enjoy!!!

Lola’s on Harrison
2032 Harrison Street
Hollywood, FL
954.927.9851

Lola's Cupcakery on Las Olas Boulevard in downtown Fort Lauderdale

My friend from St. Thomas, Carolyn, came in on Thursday for a long weekend. As we were driving down Las Olas Boulevard, I happened to mention and point out the new Lola’s Cupcakery to her. She immediately asked me to turn around so that she could try one. (She has a sweet tooth!)

Her eyes popped out of her head as we walked into the bakery. They have cases filled to the brim with wonderful cupcakes. She really had a tough decision to make as she glazed upon the beauties.

Lola’s offers a scrumptious selection of flavors every day. All flavors are available as part of their signature range and each one has a delicious butter cream icing at least 2 inches tall!

Some of their specialties are: peanut butter and jelly cupcakes, chocolate with butter cream icing with sprinkles, chocolate gnash cupcakes, rocky road cupcakes smothered in marshmallows, nuts and milk chocolate buttons, strawberry swirled with white chocolate cupcake with fresh strawberry icing and a signature ring, coconut cupcakes with coconut butter cream icing and freshly grated coconut, chocolate milk cupcakes with vanilla icing and chocolate pieces, carrot cupcakes (pecan-filled carrot cupcake) with cinnamon cream-cheese icing, red velvet cupcakes, which is a mild crimson chocolate cupcake with cream-cheese icing, and on and on. There are a lot more that I haven’t mentioned.

Carolyn couldn’t make a choice; so therefore, we had to go back 3 times during the short weekend stay, purchasing two at each visit for herself! She actually told Laura and Donald Kaplan that they should start a new “twelve step” program!

I highly recommend Lola’s Cupcakery for a sweet taste of yesterday and today. Enjoy!

Lola's Cupcakery
1523 E. Las Olas Boulevard
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
954.530.3153

CHEF JEAN PIERRE’S COOKING SCHOOL VS. CHEF ANGELO (FROM CASA DE ANGELO RESTAURANT) COOKOFF

Chef Jean Pierre’s Cooking School is a terrific place to go to learn different cooking techniques and different recipes. You sit like you are at a cooking show, bringing your own wine, and are entertained by Chef Jean Pierre while he is cooking whatever it is he is cooking that night. He has a long history of restaurant ownership in the Ft. Lauderdale area with a French flair.

Casa De Angelo Restaurante is a wonderful Italian restaurant. I received an email a few weeks ago that both chefs were going to compete in an unusual cook-off to see whose food people enjoyed the most. Since I had never done anything like this, I decided to attend.

When I arrived, I was seated with 7 total strangers, who quickly became good acquaintances. I’d like to mention their names. Dining with me was David Morrow, Orazio Spagnardi, Marilyn Lettman, Bob and Dianne Congdon, and Michelle Handel joined by Joseph Herman. We really entertained ourselves with comparing the foods that were served us.

First course was (Italian) Arborio Risotto with fresh roasted Porcini mushrooms, Reggiano cheese and Rosemary infused with white Truffle oil. The wine that was served with that course was Borgo Tesis/Fantinel Chardonnay 2007. The French first course was Bouillabaisse Risotto Saffron and Fennel Nage, served with Domaine Vocoret Chablis 2006.

The second course on the Italian side was Chilean Sea Bass with Crispy Zucchini Flowers and sweet Rock Shrimp, over Roasted Garlic and Lemon Zest and Prosecco wine sauce. The French offering for the second course was Pepper Crusted & Roasted Chilean Sea Bass, with a Carrot & Ginger Reduction, Roasted Garlic and Basil Oil, served over Roasted Beets and Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes.

The third Italian offering was Filet Mignon, crusted with black pepper potatoes over cauliflower puree, 12-year-old port wine reduction sauce with roasted black mission figs. With this course they served Ruffino Chianti Superiore 2007. On the French side was Roasted Filet Mignon, caramelized onion, Roquefort and port demi glaze, gruyere & goat cheese with potatoes au gratin, camembert butter and a buttered jumbo asparagus. The wine offering was Château Coufran 2005.

If that wasn’t enough, the final course as dessert….the Italian choice was a pistachio cream filled Bigne warm chocolate topped and served with maraschino wild cherries. The wine served as Dolce. The French choice was hazelnut crusted chocolate and banana pie served with a vanilla and rum crème anglaise boysenberry coulis, also served with Dolce dessert wine.

The service was excellent, the food was excellent and I rolled out of their at least 20 pounds heavier than I originally came. Boy…..what a meal! I would go onto www.chefjeanpierre.com to see if they are offering another night like this one. Boy was it GREAT!!!!!

Chef Jean Pierre’s Cooking School
1436 North Federal Highway
Ft. Lauderdale
954.563.2700

Casa De Angelo Restaurante
1201 North Federal Highway
Ft. Lauderdale
954-564-1234

Valentino’s Cucina Italiana

In speaking with people in the area, I kept hearing about a restaurant that would always come up in my various conversations that I had never been to. So…..I just had to go to Valentino’s Cucina Italiana Restaurante. If you didn’t know where you were going, you might never have seen this small, but quite excellent, restaurant. It is owned by Chef Giovanni Rocchio. I also would recommend making a reservation as it is VERY popular. Who knew? And now I know why.

My friend Ann and I shared the Tortelli Di Zucca, which is butternut squash, crushed amaretto cookies and pumpkin seeds in ravioli for our Antipasti. We literally licked the plate, they were so delicious!

For Ann’s main course she had the Pollo Alla Valentino which is chicken filled with spinach, white raisins, pine nuts, goat cheese and Portobello mushrooms. Boy….was that good! My choice was a special for the evening, Lobster Fra Diablo, which was also excellent.

As a dessert, we both shared a vanilla bean crème Brule served in an edible almond basket. This also had various fruits at the bottom of it. If I keep on eating all these fantastic meals I am going to need a gastric by-pass operation. This is a keeper restaurant. One that will become one of my top restaurants in the Ft. Lauderdale area, for sure. Please go and Enjoy!

Valentino’s Cucina Italiana
1145 South Federal Highway
Ft. Lauderdale
954.523.5767

Chef Adam Kanner

Along time ago I purchased, at a charity event, a dinner for six, offered by an event planning, catering, personal chef and theme dinning gentleman by the name of Adam Kanner. Last night I finally used that service and boy was I thrilled!

Chef Adam is not only a very nice man, but a WONDERFUL chef. We had previously set up the menu on the telephone. I really didn’t know how good he was until last night, but the menu sounded great.

First, as my guests arrived, he served mini-beef & mushroom Wellingtons served with a most delicious dipping sauce. Then in addition, he served this most wonderful cheese and tomato hot casserole which you dipped your home-made Italian garlic bread toasted slices. My friends flipped!

As we sat down at my dining room table, he plated and served a wonderfully delicious crab cake with black bean and corn salsa with greens and cucumbers served with balsamic vinegar. The crab cake was stuffed with lump crabmeat.

The main course was Francais Red Snapper served with a lemon-wine sauce, Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach and carrots.

We made coffee and served it with little individual apple tarts topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, which Chef Adam called it something else, but I don’t remember the proper name. My guests walked away totally stuffed and very appreciative comments about Chef Adam. It was like having an old friend cooking for me (he was so nice) and my guests all hugged and kissed him.

If you ever need catering of any kind, I would highly recommend Chef Adam Kanner. You will adore him AND his cooking!!!

Chef Adam Kanner
305.975.1782
Boca Raton, FL
ChefAdam.com

Smith & Jones Bar and Grill

Bob and I decided to try a new restaurant on Las Olas called Smith & Jones Bar and Grill…..it had only been opened for 2 months. It was a beautiful night so when we arrived, we decided to eat on their patio instead of eating inside, as they were watching football games on the tv’s.

Our server, Bobby Weinstein, couldn’t have been more helpful in suggesting the restaurant’s specialties. We started sharing an appetizer, Smoked Fish Dip, served with celery and carrot stalks, pita bread strips and toasted bread slices. It really was good as we gobbled it up quickly.”

For dinner entrée’s, Bob ordered their Fresh Atlantic Salmon ($17.95), served with black beans, herb rice, chipotle sauce and an absolutely delicious side of mango cole slaw. The entrée was just perfectly cooked and quite good. My entrée was the New Mexican Roasted Chicken Enchilada ($12.95), which I absolutely loved. It was served with 2 sauces, each on one half of the enchilada, which were chimayo red and poblano green chili sauces. Boy….was it yummy!!!

Afterwards, Bobby highly recommended a dessert, which Bob decided to have. He tried their Banana Cream Pie, which he almost licked the plate clean.

The restaurant serves sort of a mixture of orangic flatbreads, salads, burgers and sandwiches, barbeque specialties and entrees such as a “Thanksgiving” dinner, Iron Skillet Spiked Florida Dolphin, Uncle Betty’s Meatloaf, Midwest Good Ol’ Boy Pot Roast plus steaks and chops. They also offer “On the Sides” such as Three Cheese Mac and Cheese, Smashed Red Bliss Potatoes, Seasonal Fresh Veggies, and even Sage Stuffing.

There is quite a nice selection of offerings. I believe that Smith & Jones will become a local favorite and I definitely recommend that you go and enjoy!

Smith & Jones Bar and Grill
1313 East Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL
954.888.8893

H2O Café and Java Shop

Things are on the go these days on Ft. Lauderdale Beach. A host of new hotels are replacing older properties and along with the new hotels and condos comes some fine new opportunities to dine out.

My decorator and I decided to go to H2O Café, which is a 2-part restaurant. One side is a mostly outdoor sidewalk café that is great for people watching. The other side has a coffee shop that sells sandwiches, salads, bottled water and other convenience items perfect for carrying across the street to the beach.”

We dined in the café and checked out the hunks (and babes) on Ft. Lauderdale Beach. The menu is extensive with chicken, fish, salads and lots of steaks. We tried an Asparagus and Crab Salad with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing and I ordered the Duck Tacos, which I adore and Stefano ordered a Mushroom Risotto, which he flipped over (especially being from Italy; he is used to great Risotto). The salad was extremely good. My Duck Tacos was served in 2 soft tacos served with peanut sauce and also guacamole. If you love Peking Duck…then you will love this substitute!

The meals were very filling and the result was that we were a little too full to try out dessert. All in all the service was fast and very friendly. The waiter, Calvin, was fully informed about the food; we’ve had a few experiences at other new places where that wasn’t the case. We enjoyed the food and recommend H2O on your next visit to the beach.

Enjoy!

H2O Café and Java Shop
101 S Atlantic Boulevard
Ft Lauderdale, FL
954.760.7500

Oceans 234

A week ago I went to watch my granddaughter’s soccer game and afterwards my son Mark, my daughter-in-law Amy and granddaughter Andi and I decided to go somewhere where neither of us had been to for lunch. We decided to go to a restaurant on Deerfield Beach, but when we got there, instead of going to where we were going to I noticed a very pretty restaurant across the street from the original restaurant that looked quite inviting, with a casual atmosphere. It is called Oceans 234 located directly on the beachside of Ocean Drive where you can actually hear the surf pounding on the shore. You are sitting so close to the ocean that the salt can tickle your nose. They have breathtaking views of the ocean with calm ocean breezes. We chose to sit outside to be able to watch the ocean and the people on the beach.

The restaurant has an upscale setting with a gorgeous patio area where we dined. The menu varies with mostly fresh seafood offerings but also quite a lot of other choices. Also, the presentation of our meals were quite lovely. The menu offers many choices and covers all price ranges. Amy ordered their Tropical Chicken Salad ($12.) which is served with grilled pineapple, mandarin oranges, bleu cheese, avocado and served with Tamarind vinaigrette dressing. Her actual quote was “this is now my favorite new restaurant!

Mark ordered the Turkey Sandwich ($9.), served with fresh turkey breast, bacon, lettuce, tomato and cheddar cheese; which he also loved. I ordered the Fresh Maine Lobster Roll ($16.), which is chilled fresh lobster meat salad with shaved red onions and lemon pepper aioli. It too was absolutely fabulous! Little Andi (who is 7) ordered off the Children’s Menu, which includes such favorites as Cheese Quesadilla, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Spaghetti and Chicken Fingers (served with French fries).

To top it all off, there was actually 2 musicians playing while we dined on our lunch which entertained my granddaughter and us.

I really think that you should all try this 5-year-old favorite restaurant, as it surely will become one of your favorites also! Enjoy!

Oceans234
234 North Ocean Drive
Deerfield Beach, FL 33441
954.428.2539

Bimini Boatyard Bar & Grill

I had never been to the Bimini Boatyard Bar & Grill before and in asking different friends if they had ever been there, they said that they had been there many years ago, but hadn’t been recently. They did remember that it was a good restaurant, though.

Well, Beatrice and I went last week. It was a very large, bright, white restaurant with plenty of windows facing the Intracoastal with many happy and cordial workers that greeted us and made us feel that we were at home.

Our server highly recommended the “World Famous” Bimini Bread as an appetizer. Out came a very warm loaf of bread coated with honey and something else that made it crunchy and quite delicious ($4.00) that we just had to eat the whole loaf!

Beatrice ordered the “Bahamian Shrimp Scampi” ($15.00) which is shrimp sautéed in garlic, fresh herbs and topped with a smooth white wine reduction, served with deliciously al dente mixed vegetables. She thought it was excellent!

I ordered the Rigatoni Sorrentina with Shrimp ($18.00), which is a dish of robust rigatoni and mozzarella in a sweet basic marinara sauce, made with romano and parmesan cheese. It also was delicious!

Their menu is stocked with appetizers, soups, salads, seafood sandwiches like Blackened Mahi and Grilled Salmon, or Angus New York Strip Steak sandwiches, burgers and also grilled chicken “Stephen’s” Sandwich served with sautéed mushrooms, avocado and jack cheese with sour cream. Everything sounded wonderful that it wasn’t easy to make our choices.

I believe that the Bimini Boatyard Bar & Grill is under new ownership and they offer new and delicious specials daily. You should go back to the Bimini and try it again, it’s worth the beautiful trip down the 17th Street Causeway! Enjoy!!

Bimini Boatyard Bar & Grill
1555 SE 17th Street
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
954.525.7400

Las Olas Café

So here I am, sitting in St. Thomas at this fabulous restaurant and begin a conversation with a gentleman, who used to live in Fort Lauderdale. who knew?? So I happen to mention in our talk that I'm food critic for local restaurants in the Fort Lauderdale area and he tells me that 'I MUST' try a great restaurant, one of his favorites...The Las Olas Café.

When I arrived in Fort Lauderdale I immediately went to the Las Olas Café with my friends Ann and Bob. Arriving onto East Las Olas Blvd., you’d never know this quaint, quiet, private, excellent restaurant exists. You walk down a small alley in the heart of Las Olas and then it feels like you’re in Europe somewhere with twinkling white lights making it all the more inviting. We chose to eat outside as it was a beautiful night, but of course, they have a lovely dining room that is even more intimate, with it's atmospheric lighting and linen tablecloths lend a casual elegance perfectly suited for quiet conversations.

The menu reflects a certain sensuality; from the crunchy brushetta or even fried green tomatoes (served with jumbo lump crab, lemon aioli and a green tomato relish), which is what Bob and Ann shared, and both loved.

For the entrée’s, I ordered a New York Sirloin, which was that evening’s special. It was perfectly cooked and quite delicious, served with a side of vegetables. Ann ordered Mahi Mahi and also loved her dish. Our server, Patrick, was extremely knowledgeable and very cordial.

When we mentioned that we were reviewing the restaurant, they informed the owner of the restaurant, Paula Pace, and immediately were served Key Lime Pie and also a Chocolate Lava Cake (served with vanilla ice cream). They were perfectly cooked and quite yummy.

I know that if you try this quaint and slightly hidden restaurant, it will certainly become one of your favorites. Enjoy!

Las Olas Café
922 East Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL
954.524.4300

La Bamba Mexican & Spanish Restaurant

I talked to my friend Kathy and asked her to join me for lunch at La Bamba Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. And, we were happy to have made that choice! We immediately were led to a very nice table. Our server, Sandra, came right over to offer us some drinks and dropped off some salsa and chips to nibble on. The salsa is so fresh and filled with delicious cilantro, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and WAS just amazing. The chips were of course, delicious too! Sandra came back and we then made our lunch choices.

Kathy ordered a side of their guacamole dip ($5.50), which was vine ripe avocados, blended with savory spices, served with refried beans and taco sauce. It was GREAT! For the main course, Kathy ordered the Taco Salad ($7.50), which was a large flour tortilla filled with lettuce, tomato, cheese and delicious chunks of chicken or ground beef. Kathy said it was to die for!!

My lunch was a fabulous grilled steak quesadilla ($7.95), which is melted cheese inside a large flour tortilla served with guacamole and sour cream. You really couldn’t beat these prices and with the food this good, you couldn't go wrong! Our lunch was so reasonable we will definitely be back again. If you want an adventure with Spanish or Mexican food, come to La Bamba in Fort Lauderdale for a true Spanish Fiesta! I was told that the owners are from Salvador, so they know their epicurean delights. There are 3 other La Bamba’s in South Florida: They are located at the following:


• 5452 W. Sample Road, Peppertree Plaza, Margate, FL    (954.978.6377)
• 4285 W. Atlantic Blvd., Delray Beach, FL (561.499.7996)
• 10169 W. Sunrise Blvd., Plantation, FL (954.370.1978)


If your in the mood for Mexican and or Spanish style food, I highly recommend LA BAMBA for everyone!


La Bamba Mexican & Spanish Restaurant
4245 North Federal Highway
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33308
954.568.5662
LaBambaFortLauderdale.com

MISSISSIPPI SWEETS BBQ CO.

My son, David and his wife, Amie Jo, came into Ft. Lauderdale recently. We decided to go out to dinner but just couldn't make up our minds. We all agreed up on a fantastic BBQ restaurant that I have never been to. The name...MISSISSIPPI SWEETS, BBQ, CO.! Boy was this sure a fantastic find! They have (3) locations: They are:

Mississippi Sweets BBQ, Co.
2399 North Federal Highway
Boca Raton, FL.
561.394.6779

Lake Worth, FL
6604 Hypoluxo Road
561.432.8555

Wellington, FL
9859-29 Lake Worth Road
561.642.4748

The food was fabulous! I had had a late lunch, so I wasn’t too hungry, but I did taste a little something from everyone's plates of scrumptious foods. We ordered the Dixie Wings. You can get them either mild, medium, hot or garlic. We got the small dozen ($6.29) of the absolutely deliciouso garlic (mild) chicken wings done beautifully. And they are very, very good! The rest of my party tried their mild, medium and the hot dixie wings….I tried the mild Dixie’s and they too were great!

Next, we had the Riverhouse BBQ, and of course, I tried them and they melted in your mouth. They were excellent and they are only $16.99 for a full rack of Baby Back Ribs (or a half rack which is only $11.99). I MUST tell you to order the Cornbread….it also was to die for (a wedge of the most delicious cornbread I have ever tasted). It's a MUST! For only $.59., it's a bargain. There is sooo much butter in the cornbread that you don’t need any extra! Quite fabulous!

They offer side dishes….choices being Mississippi Sweets (thin sliced sweet potatoes, deep fried and seasoned to perfection ($2.99), Tractor Threads (criss-cut French fries) for $2.99. Also offered were the Wedge of Cornbread, Baked Beans, Cole slaw served with apple sauce (1/2 pint is $2.29) and they offer a pint for $4.49.

The prices are not bad. They also offer an extra bbq sauce on take out orders for $.99 or half pint for $2.09 and the full pint is only $4.09. They also offer other choices, such as Plantation Salads, either Biloxi Bleu salad for $7.99, a Cottonwood salad, for $7.99 or a Riverboat salad for $6.29.

Mississippi Sweets also offers different combinations of ribs, wings, chicken styles and pork (pulled) platter, bbq beef and beet & pork platter, also reasonably priced. Other favorites are Choctaw Catfish, Natchez Chicken or Paddle Wheel (all looked amazing on other people’s plates. Would you believe they also offer different sandwiches, and with so many choices to choose from!

I just want to say that you must go to Mississippi Sweets BBQ, Co. because their food was wonderful. The service was excellent (our server was Alissa, was quite informative and very sweet and knowledgeable). The owner Randy and the Manager, Charlie Ward, were also knowledgeable and quite nice. They were surprised that I was reviewing them, but also quite pleased about my reaction (actually all of our reactions). If you love good barbeque food, then you must put this one on your list!!! Enjoy!

If you want a great local Italian restaurant then it’s gotta be…Zuckerello’s of Fort Lauderdale.

My friend Carlos (I call him “Carlito”), had been to this restaurant lots of times and recommended it to me (so we went). It’s a very large restaurant that was quite busy the night we went. Now I can see why... It has a HUGE menu from ‘soups to nuts’.

Carlito first ordered pasta fagioli which is soup with tuscan beans, applewood smoked bacon, fresh herbs and pasta. Carlito rated it an A+), I even tasted it and yes..it was QUITE delicious! I ordered the minestrone soup which is a tomato-based broth with fresh vegetables. Not only was it an A+ too, but it was soooo thick and definitely FABULOUS!

For dinner, Carlos ordered their Yellowtail Snapper Frangelica (almond encrusted) Hazelnut-Frangelica sauce, served with garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables ($18.00). To rate it between a score of 1-10, Carlos rated it a 12! That’s super, isn’t it? I ordered my “favoriteItalian dish in the world…"Eggplant Parmigiana" topped with mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce served with a side of angel-hair, also with marinara sauce. ($14.00). Did I mention it was 'YUMMY! On a scale from 1-10, I would give it a 12. It was fantastic!

The service was excellent, the ambiance very nice; The one thing that this restaurant does have (that you just don’t see anymore) is that when you walk in they actually have the “Specials of the Day” right there in front of you! Now, how nice is that? That truly is unusual..(at least to me!)

If you want a terrific local Italian restaurant, that is quite excellent, then Zuckerello’s would be my recommendation for any type of Italian food anywhere.


Zuckerello’s
3017 E. Commercial Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Ph. 954.776.4282
Zuckerellos.com

Rino’s Tuscan Grill

My newest friend, Susan (we met at a fund raiser at Neiman Marcus), and I had dinner plans. Since I usually pick the restaurant, I decided to let her take over and make the decision as to where we would dine. I met her at Rino’s Tuscan Grill, which her husband and she love. Since she can literarily walk there from her home, she really recommended this highly, and boy, was she right!!

Boy, what a place! Susan, being a “regular”, immediately introduced me to her friend, Gabriel Salas, the General Manager, who was more than gracious. He had no idea that I review restaurants (neither did Susan). It was such a gorgeous night (“another day in paradise”), I asked if we could sit outside. We sat and chit-chatted for a long while, still not glancing at the menu. When the waiter came over to offer us a beverage, I hadn’t even looked at the menu. Not only was I served the menu, but in addition, I received the “Chief Rino’s Featured Selections of the Day. There were many choices of either Appetizers and Entrées. Quite impressive. They offered Antipasti, Zuppe and Insalate’s. They also served home-made pasta’s like Tortelli Di Zucca Alla Salvia E Pinoli (homemade tortellini filled with pumpkin, fresh sage, Parmigiano and pine nuts, or Pappardelle Con Salsiccia E Porcini (wide noodles with sausage, porcini mushrooms and red sauce. Doesn’t sound too bad, huh?

Before they even serve you, you are brought over a hot, round, special rustic basic bread, a drizzle of olive oil atop, also served with a plate of olives, with fresh little chunks of Argiano Parmigiano Cheese. Susan ordered a special fish dish called, Chef Rino’s Specialty from the wood oven & grill, fresh imported Italian Branzino, filleted table side (when available). She was ready to suck the bones dry; but didn’t! I on the other hand ordered Fettine Di Vitello Dello Chef, mine being Veal Marsala (Veal Scaloppini – chef’s choice). It literally melted in my mouth. I loved the service, food and ambiance. The General Manager, greets you (if he knows you) with a great hug and kiss.

I loved this restaurant so much that last week I took my Bostonian friend Paul, who also appreciates fine food at a reasonable price. Steven, our server, only works one day per week. He’s a choo-choo engineer during the rest of the week. How interesting! That evening we sat at “my table” outside on East Las Olas, watching the people walk by. This time I ordered the Lamb Shank Osso Bucco, served with Risotto! Molto bueno!!! YUMMY! Paul ordered their Veal Scaloppini Marsala served over red marinara sauce. He too licked his plate clean!

What a “GEM” of a restaurant right in the East Las Olas area. YOU MUST GIVE THIS ONE A TRY…..IT TOO WILL TAKE YOUR HEART OVER!!!

Rino’s Tuscan Grill
1105 East Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale
954.766.8700

When Paul comes into town, he always insists on his favorite restaurant in all of the city, The Greek Islands Taverna!

Every time we go there (which is a lot), there are lines out the door! Usually, I would NEVER go to a restaurant that you had to stand in a line. Never, ever! However, they offer many Greek dishes that are always just so perfect. How many restaurants can boast that they are perfect? They prepare delicious cuisine to make a memorable feast! AND, “Greek food is becoming fashionable because the world is recognizing how healthy it is.” Paul always orders their Smelts, fried and seasoned with lemon, or their Greek Salad (Horiatiki), made with tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, onions, feta cheese and olive oil. He’s in love afterwards with either choice. Then Paul, always orders the only entrée he will eat there, the House Specialty, Lamb Chops, char broiled and seasoned with lemon, oregano and olive oil served with Patates Ladoregano (potatoes roasted with olive oil, lemon and oregano) and vegetables. That is $23.00 and quite a large portion, in which Paul picks up the bones, licking them till they’re isn’t a morsel left. HE ADORES THEM!

I love their Steak Tips, char-broiled to your taste, served with fresh vegetables! It’s a terrific restaurant, even though you might have to wait!!! Enjoy…


Greek Islands Taverna
3300 North Ocean Boulevard | A1A
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Ph. 954.568.0008
GreekIslandsTaverna.com

For a while now, my masseuse Holly, kept telling me about a fairly new restaurant in Pompano Beach called Gianni’s Ristorante.

I finally decided to go there because my friend and love, Carolyn from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and her new “guy” from upstate New York, Jim, to the restaurant. They took, and honored, our reservation promptly. This is a medium-sized restaurant, beautifully appointed, with a gorgeous glass-enclosed room in the back (which is where I sat with a group of 8 other friends when I returned a few weeks later). I guess that tells you that I love this restaurant. The service is terrific and the food is fabulous!

When I was with Carolyn and Jim, they shared an order of Fried Calamari, which they scored a “10”! Carolyn said that they were tender, succulent, and very fresh. Jim had lasagna for dinner and he’s tough, scoring his dish a “9”, which is right up there. It was a “huge portion, very filling and a good red sauce”. Carolyn had Ricotta Ravioli in Vodka Sauce. Her sauce had “a perfect bite to it, delicious, very rich and al dente pasta. She rated it a “10”. I ordered a dish I never even heard of, Veal Ossobucco. My veal shank (who knew?) was stewed for hours, falling off the bone, with absolutely terrific marinara sauce including veggies, served over home-made pasta.

Our server was Ashley (only 3 weeks there, but was very good); and John, the Manager of the restaurant, very gracious and appreciative of our patronage. Then to top it all off, Carolyn and I had Cappuccino, which was also fab!

What a great restaurant, and next time, I will value Holly’s recommendation. You should try it, I’m sure you too will love it!!!! And, to top it off, when I returned to the restaurant with the birthday party in honor of my great friend, Scott, even his friend, Anthony (who is Italian), ordered my Veal Ossobucco and thought it was a “10”!!!!!!!

Until next time,
Helene!

Gianni’s Ristorante
1601 E. Atlantic Avenue
Pompano Beach
Ph. 954.942.1733


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