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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S3 – Sun | Surf | Sand

S3 – Sun | Surf | Sand– 505 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Fort Lauderdale              (954) 523-7873 – http://www.s3restaurant.com

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It’s understandable why some say S3 is “YOLO on the beach.” Same ownership, similar design cues, attentive service and smart-looking crowd. But the added dimension of beach dining is alluring and very different from their Las Olas restaurant. The food is a mix of new American and Asian with many small plate options as well as some larger entrée items. We ordered several small plates… Tuna Tataki , so tender it melts in your mouth, Kamikaze Roll with nice hotness, tasty Vietnamese Chicken Wings and the “not what you were expecting” Shrimp Toast-Ciabatta. So many more items I’d like to try, but will have to wait for the next visit.

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© 2013 alanEATS | A Food Blog

The Fresh Market – Fort Lauderdale

The Fresh Market – 424 N Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale –  http://www.thefreshmarket.com/

“Fort Lauderdale got a shiny new Fresh Market in Feb. All the stories you’ve heard are true. Find fresh meats, fish and poultry and a large selection of prepared foods. Buy your lunch and eat outside.” — Quick Bites.

I never imagined when I started this Blog that I would be covering Supermarket openings. But when the call came inquiring if I would be interested in seeing the latest and greatest Fresh Market I didn’t hesitate to say, “sure!” Now I must confess that I knew nothing about this Market except for the almost schoolgirl responses from otherwise sober and reserved folks whom I know. They’d say stuff like, “You’re so lucky to live so close to one”, “OMG, I’d be there everyday!” & “ have you seen their meat counter?” And so when the big day arrived I parked in the pristine blacktop lot and approached the building, where I was surprised by the lack of a traditional ribbon cutting setup. Curiously I asked why and was told, “We crack the parmesan at Fresh Market openings.” That’s the first tipoff that this store is all about the food and that theme continues as you walk through the doors where you’re greeted by enthusiastic store personnel prior to starting your trek around the dazzling isles brimming with foods and treats. Am I gushing too? Well…yes! And you too will be impressed. Look at some of the food shots I grabbed during the opening. http://on.fb.me/w9FS2c . I’ve been in to the store several times since that first day and there would be no way to get these shots because of the crowds that shop throughout the day.

So what are people going crazy over? The fruits and vegetables section are what you’d expect, beautifully presented and fresh. The meat department stands out because of the large selection of fresh meats and poultry. In the pork section there are seemingly never-ending rows of different types of Sausages, Bacon and other Pork goodness. Same with the abundant offerings of fish which the company claims is delivered to the store within 2-5 days of being caught. I hovered around the prepared foods section with its Rotisserie Chickens and Wings, two types of Ribs and then sidestepped to the cold cuts area to make a purchase. There is so much to see here that one visit will not cover the endless varieties of food.  Not to be missed is a ready to eat Antipasto section, a Wine area, and baked goods counter where I purchased an amazing apple pie. Stopping by the impressive Cheese counter I picked up some of that freshly cracked Parmesan, Jarlsberg Lite and sampled NY Cheddar.  And on my final swing around the prepared foods counter I found my nosh nemesis…the salads section. The counter folks are more than happy to give you samples of all the items on display. Try some of the Chicken salads. I picked up the Curry, the Waldorf and the Rotisserie. A friend and good cook had already told me to be on the lookout for the Blue Cheese Potato Salad with the advice to add some fresh Bacon to it. Gosh that’s good!  I next bumped into the bread dept. where I found Garlic Herb Focaccia Bread, which I surmised would go well with the humanely raised, no antibiotic/hormone, vegetable fed, Uncured ham I purchased. It did indeed!

I now have a better understanding of the devotion some have for this place and plan to be back myself. But, don’t expect to see me at every new market opening!

© 2012 alanEATS

Quick Bites- Under Construction

Quick Bites- Under construction

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza- 2203 South Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale – The restaurant that started it all…best coal fired pizzas, meatballs, chicken wings and Italian Salad. New stuff I need to try since last there.

 Bagels & More- 2368 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale – A former private chef makes incredible bagels, bagel sandwiches and more!

 Bank Atlantic Center- 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise – Sports and entertainment center with many food options from sit down, buffet, food court, Kosher and numerous snack stands. I’ll give you my best advice on which venue and what to eat.

 Basilic Vietnamese Grill- 218 Commercial Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale – Pho soup and its many variations are wonderful, but must try the French influenced Vietnamese Filled Crepes.

 Bistro Mezzaluna- 1821 SE 10th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale – Fine dining Italian Restaurant recently moved to a new larger location.  Hoping the fond memories of the old place transfers to the new. I must try soon.

 Bonefish Grill- 6282 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale – Choose wisely and you can get a reasonably priced & tasty seafood meal.

 Bravo Gourmet Sandwich- 2925 NE 6th Avenue Fort Lauderdale – Excellent small neighborhood Peruvian place where you can try tasty Pavo, Lechon & Cubano sandwiches with a glass of Chicha Morada…or just ask for the Turkey, Pork & Cuban sandwiches with a glass of the tasty blue liquid.

 Café Jamm- 2364 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale – American comfort food with an Asian touch. The duck here is excellent.

Café Sharaku- 2736 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale – Small 18 seat restaurant with a classically trained Owner/Chef who mixes French & Asian techniques. Look, smell and taste your way through an amazing dining experience. Reservations are a must.

 Capital Grille- 2430 E Sunrise Blvd, at Galleria Mall, Fort Lauderdale –  The place was already renowned for their seafood and sides. They can now Char your favorite Steak. Try the wonderful Cobb Salad…even better if ordered with a Strip Steak instead of the Tenderloin that’s normally served with it.

 Casablanca Café- 3049 Alhambra Street, Fort Lauderdale – Good food on the Lauderdale beach. Nice appetizers. Good burger.

 Diner By-The-Sea- 215 Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale – An old-time Diner ensconced in a storefront, in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Many breakfast items.

 Fresh Market- 424 N Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale – Fort Lauderdale got a shinny new Fresh Market in Feb. All the stories you’ve heard are true. Find fresh meats, fish and poultry and a large selection of prepared foods. Buy your lunch and eat outside.

 Gran Forno Pronto- 704 East Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale – Quick good Italian food, sandwiches, salads, pizza and few main dishes and don’t forget that wonderful Gran Forno bread.

 Greek Islands Taverna- 3300 North Ocean Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale – Really good Greek food. Charbroiled Lamb chops and large baked Shrimp.

 Japango- 7367 N SR 7, Parkland – Beautifully prepared plates of Sushi & Sashimi that taste as good as they look

  La Dolce Vita- 3331 Northeast 33rd Street, Fort Lauderdale – Authentic Italian cuisine. Not your ordinary Italian eatery. Chefs hail from Rome and Abruzzo. I need a return visit.

Michael’s Genuine- Farm to table restaurant with an international flair. Familiar ingredients in new preparations. Pork Belly with Kimchee. Need to revisit.

  Michy’s- Owner/Chef who loves what she does…her food reflects it. Colossal shrimp with wide noodles…Short Ribs and much more. I need to return and have much more!

Mojo Restaurant/Lounge- 4140 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale – Two guys from New Jersey prove they can work the kitchen as well as workout in the gym. Baked Escargot appetizer is a mini meal. Liked the Stuffed Pork Chop and the Duck Breast. It’s season…call ahead.

 New York Mart- 10065 Sunset Strip, Sunrise – Amazing new large Chinese food market that has a huge section with fresh fish some live in tanks along with turtles, crabs, eels, lobsters and more. One of the largest selections of Asian food products; fresh, caned and vacuum wrapped. A must see!

 Pine Court Chinese Bistro- 10101 Sunset Strip, Sunrise, Florida – NY Style Dim Sum at its best. Rolling carts with many variations to choose from. Dim Sum served daily from opening to 2pm.

  PL8 Kitchen- 210 SW 2nd, Fort Lauderdale – Small plates of foods from different cuisines.  Fish tacos, Korean Ribs, Wild Florida Shrimp, Brick Oven Pizza to name a few.

Rainbow Diner- 2724 Davie Blvd, Fort Lauderdale – Old time Greek diner that’s been in the same location for 30 years. Owner/chef makes everything from breakfast to Greek specialties.

Shuck-N-Dive- 650 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale – Be a Cajun for the night and sample the fresh oysters, fried pickles, Po Boy sandwiches and Black Board specials.

Stork’s Bakery- 2505 NE 15th Ave, Wilton Manors – Eat in bakery with many dessert and food options.

 Sozo- 2362 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors – Small Mom & Pop & Daughter Sushi restaurant. Old school sushi & sashimi.

  Texas Hold’em- 1025 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale – This is Texas style BBQ…dry rub, sauce on the side. Brisket and pork ribs.

The Dixie Pig- 4495 N Dixie Hwy, Oakland Park (20th Anniversary)- A local institution for southern delights. Walk up service with covered outdoor seating. North Carolina BBQ, St. Louis style ribs.

 the Foxy Brown- Chic new small restaurant on E Broward Blvd serving unexpected food to an adoring crowd.  Try Mabel’s Chicken or the Lump Crab Cakes.  Unique, modern and satisfying.

 The Grateful Palate- 817 Southeast 17th Street, Fort Lauderdale – Fine dining with a unique menu that changes daily… and a sommelier on hand to help you select your wine.

 Truluck’s- 2584 East Sunrise Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale – Upscale fish house with a good happy hour includes half price drinks and special bar menu. Seasonal main menu. Variety of fish pan seared or EVO grilled with additional preparations available.

Valentino’s Cucina Italiana- 1145 South Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale – Fine Italian dining. Need to revisit.

 Victoria Park Diner- 1730 East Sunrise Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale – Referred to by many, as the Vicky Park Diner this former Miami Sub was transformed into a Greek Diner. Known for great breakfast specials, Greek food and Hookah Nights.

 Zuckerello’s- 3017 E Commercial Blvd, Fort Lauderdale – Great value, more than ample portions, local favorite.

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

BTTR (Biscayne Triangle Truck Round-up) Food Truck Events

BTTR Food Truck Events- http://miamifoodtrucks.com/

If you don’t know what this is all I can say is…where have you been hiding! Food trucks are hot.  This West Coast phenomenon has made its way to south Florida in a big way. These gourmet food palaces on wheels serve up tasty treats representing many different cuisines. How do you find them? Usually you hear about one truck and begin to follow them on Twitter. Every day the trucks, with names like; Big Kahuna, Clara Belles, Daddy’s Grill, Divan Bakery, Dog Eat Dog, Gastro Pod, Giuseppe’s Italian, Jefe’s Original, Latin Burger, Miso Hungry, MsCheezious, Nacho Bizness, Nacho MaMa, Purple People Eatery, Red Koi, Slow Food Truck and the Rolling Stove to name a few, will tweet where they will be. When lots of these trucks link up at one location the result is a mobile food court party. Every Tuesday, BTTR assembles 30 food trucks near the campus of Johnson & Wales University. The result is an amazing selection of foods prepared while you wait. Hundreds of folks turn out to walk the line of trucks as they try to read the menus and make their selections. A large lawn nearby serves as your dining room. Just throw down a blanket and enjoy your meal. The atmosphere is an electric combination of sounds and smells. See more BTTR pix on my alanEATS Facebook Page.  http://on.fb.me/iBp6o0