Valentino Cucina Italiana

Valentino Cucina Italiana– 620 S Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, (954) 523-5767, http://www.valentinocucinaitaliana.com

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It’s all about fine Italian dining. This is one of those places you hear about when folks gather to speak of great meals they’ve had. Chef Giovanni Rocchio has created a beautiful setting to enjoy his menu, to which he adds daily specials. A unique feature of the restaurant is limited seating at the kitchen bar, where you can view all of the action in the open kitchen. And then there’s Chef Enzo DiPasquale, from Milan, who cooks a special menu of unique small bites, which look as interesting as they taste. Try the Calamari Artichoke Tart appetizer, the Black Bass and the Short Rib entrees. There are truly no bad dishes. Service and decor are in keeping with a restaurant of this caliber and is never fussy or pretentious. Reservations are a must.

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Capital Grille

Capital Grille- 2430 E Sunrise Blvd, at Galleria Mall, Fort Lauderdale, 954-446-2000 – http://bit.ly/10XIqJD

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This fine dining place is known for their Steaks, Seafood and sides. Some steaks served here are Dry-Aged for extra flavor and can be charred or done “Pittsburg” on request. I liked the Roasted Wild Mushrooms to accompany the steak and a must try is the Lobster Mac ‘N’ Cheese. One of my favorites for lunch is the Cobb Salad…even better when ordered a Strip Steak is substituted (extra charge) for the Tenderloin that’s normally served with it. Also amazing here is the Double Cut Lamb Rib Chops.

Capital Grill- Steak Cob Salad2 Capital Grill2 Capital Grill- Lunch Capital Grill

© 2013 alanEATS | A Food Blog

Sea Wine & Dine

Sea Wine & Dine- 235 Commercial Blvd. #105,
Lauderdale By The Sea  http://www.seatherestaurant.com/

I make no excuses about immediately liking Chef owned restaurants. I guess it’s because the Chef preparing the meal has put it all on the line and must produce. Tony Sindaco could have continued to work at fine hotels and restaurants, but he chose the more difficult path.  Sea Wine and Dine is his creation and his work can be tasted there nightly. I often wonder where Chefs like Tony get their inspiration. This Chef is respectful of his past and firmly grounded in the present, unashamed to be his own original classic. When time allows from his duties in the kitchen, he can be seen working the tables, greeting guests and observing how his food is going down. And that food is good.

Having been to Sea several times I noticed that the fish offerings change to keep pace with market availability. Your meal can be ordered from an a la carte menu or one that is prix fixe, which I recommend and gives you a choice of both an appetizer and dessert for the price of your selected entrée. Menu items change often and are posted on two large chalkboard in the dining room, reminiscent of the old-time big city seafood restaurants I used to frequent. For those not into fish there is usually at least one non-fish selection. Now it must be said that ordering fish for me does not come easily, but I totally appreciate this place for the elegant yet not overly fussy preparations that never let you forget, it’s all about the FISH!  So let me walk you through my favorites. Appetizers to look for when available are; Calamari Pomodoro, a light rustic dish with chunks of tomato, shaved garlic and tender Calamari served in a shallow bowl, Cream-less Cream of Tomato Soup, light tomatoey flavor and yes…creamy; a robustly flavored Bahamian Fish Chowder was a real stand-out for me; and finally the Grilled Shrimp which I’ve had on two occasions, each time slightly different and both times delicious. There are about seven entrées on the menu and twice a week these will change. Here are some to look for; Black Grouper Braise with green beans, squash, red potatoes and sliced garlic… great dish for dunking and if you’re like me you’ll leave nothing behind; Broiled Scallops are done perfectly here; Florida Snapper & Herb Crusted Mahi both nicely done. And finally dessert. You really don’t have to twist my arm to get me to eat dessert.  My favorite is the Black & White Creme Brulee with a layer of chocolate covered by classic custard. Sinful, I know, but you’ll eat every bit of it. Check out all the food pictures from Sea at http://on.fb.me/ys9M1b .

If something I’ve said about Sea Wine & Dine has stuck a cord with you I recommend that you call ahead, as seating is limited. And please do say hi to Tony.

© 2012 alanEATS

Timpano Italian Chop House

Timpano Italian Chop House- 450 E Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale  http://www.timpanochophouse.net/

Where do you go for a good steak in Fort Lauderdale? That has got to be the most frequent question I’m asked and it’s a tough one to answer, as this area has no shortage of fine restaurants producing good steaks. So for me it’s a personal choice based on my tastes.  What I look for is a place that has dry-aged beef and the know-how to grill it. Timpano is one of those places. Although they bill themselves as an “Italian Chop House,” I’ve never had their Italian food. I come here for the steaks! I learned about Timpano a few years ago from a friend who was a Restaurateur, Club Owner/ Bon vivant man about town in New York, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale. One evening we were discussing local restaurants and he asked if I’d ever been to Timpano. Apparently he and his brother were regulars. When I said no, he grinned and his eyes widened as he began a thorough description of the place and precisely what to order. “You take my advice and you’re going to have an enjoyable meal”, he said.  And with slight variation, I’ve been ordering this meal happily for several years.

For starters try the signature Black Skillet-Roasted Mussels
 tossed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Kosher Salt and spritzed with a shot of fresh lemon before serving.  The mussels are brought to the table on the skillet they were cooked on, steaming & sizzling…a nice show. This dish is so simple and yet so tasty, that I always dip a piece of bread into the pan after. The entrée is always steak and the two cuts I enjoy are the 20 Oz. Bone-In Rib Eye and the 14 Oz. Aged Bone-In Filet.  If you don’t like navigating the bone there is also a 12 Oz. Aged Hand Cut Filet, which is more than enough food for most. The meat is dry aged, which increases tenderness and flavor unique to that process. I order my steaks “Pittsburgh-style” — charred on the outside, medium-rare on the inside. If you’re still ordering steaks well done we need to talk!  The Grill people here know their stuff and consistently produce meat cooked to proper doneness. Side dishes are a must and my favorites are the Sautéed Spinach With Garlic And Chili Flakes (the spice is not over powering) and Baby Portobello Mushrooms With Fresh Herbs.

Sadly my friend Bob, who put me on to Timpano, is no longer with us. I remember his legendary enjoyment of life and his eagerness to share his dining adventures with others as I do now. So, as he wished, when family and friends join me over dinner, I raise my glass and remember…this one’s for you Bob!

© 2011 alanEATS

Pete’s Café Bella Sera

Pete’s Café Bella Sera- 7351 N State Rd 7,  Parkland  http://www.petescafebellasera.com/index.htm

For the last five years my brother has been telling me about many fabulous restaurants that he wants to take me to, but he just never seems to able to make it happen.  Recently he made up for one food promise on the occasion of my Great Nephew’s 11th birthday, who I publicly thank here for selecting Café Bella Sera. And what a restaurant he selected!  The Owner/Chef, Pete, I was told, was formally the Chef at one of Fort Lauderdale’s iconic Italian restaurants, so I had high expectations.  Our party of seven adults and three children was quickly seated in the dining room, which has a view of the large open kitchen. Waiters seemed to appear, busy getting drinks orders and serving warm crusty Italian bread followed by dishes of olive oil with sliced fresh garlic. And then the family ordering began. We’ll have a dish of this and we must have that and add-on one of those and the kids love the other thing.  It was totally out of my hands, strange for me, but I sensed this was to be a memorable, if not immense, meal.  So now finally…here’s what I ate, sampled and otherwise enjoyed.  The appetizers started with Fried Calamari Bella Sera Style served with long green hot peppers in a Fra Diavlo Sauce. The dish is delicate, not over done or overly hot and the calamari is cut wide. The flavors in that dish are amazing so I had several helpings of that. Arriving next were Fresh Roasted Red Peppers served with Dry Sopressatta & Reggiano Cheese and Fresh Sautéed Baby Artichokes topped with Toasted Italian Bread Crumbs. Then the Jumbo Stuffed Shrimp was served. They looked like small lobster tails.  By this time I’m filling up fast and dinner is on its way out.  It was recommended that I order the Bone-In Veal Chop Parmigiana. It’s a 16 oz. Veal Chop pounded out, covered with their fresh sauce and cheese and served almost falling off the plate.  The veal is tender, the sauce tastes of fresh tomatoes and the generous amount of Mozzarella Cheese is stunning. If you’re hungry and haven’t eaten in a while, this dish is still a challenge to finish. My savvy brother had a Center Cut Filet served with Tuscan Potato Chips.  Must say the filet had good flavor and was served at the proper temperature. The birthday boy had Chicken Milanese served plain, which I thought would be dry, but turned out to be moist and tasty. All three kids ate off that portion with some to take home.  Other dishes of note were Chicken Francaise, Homemade Lobster Raviolis, and Pete’s Famous Meatballs with Spaghetti. Side orders of Sautéed Spinach and Asparagus completed the meal. After the table was cleared, dessert was ordered and served, but I was almost comatose by then and managed to have small tastes of several things with coffee.  The birthday boy had a gigantic piece of Chocolate Cake that he couldn’t make a dent in, while the other two kids fell asleep. Wonderful evening. Good food. Must return here soon!!!  Check out the menu and specials before you go.

© 2011 alanEATS

Palm Restaurant / Miami

Palm Restaurant- 9650 East Bay Harbor Drive Bay Harbor Island, Miami, http://www.thepalm.com/Miami

I am a carnivore! I love Steaks & Chops done right!  Starting with USDA Prime Dry Aged meat, cooked Pittsburgh (with a crust or char) Medium Rare.  No fuss, no sauces, just beautifully grilled meats served hot!  What makes this place so good is, that it is good every time you go. No surprises. No bad days. I guess for the money they charge it should be expected. But sadly, there are some places that will charge you more, but you wont get as good of a meal.  I usually start with a Lump Crabmeat Cocktail & a Monday salad with the special blue cheese dressing. For the entrée I order a Bone-In Rib-Eye Steak or sometimes a Prime Rib, which comes to the table looking like it was carved for Fred Flintstone.  For those of you who like seafood, the Palm also serves lobster up to about 8 pounds, which can be split and stuffed with crabmeat.  The usual steakhouse sides are here and I like the creamed spinach, cottage fries & onions and wild mushrooms.  If there’s room for dessert one of the staff makes a Rum cake to die for.

The Palm