Put the Boy in Boynton Beach

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Josie's Ristorante. Submitted photo.

Boynton Beach may not have the LGBT presence that Wilton Manors has, but then again where else does? Located midway between Lake Worth and Delray, Boynton Beach is coming into its own. You can see signs of it everywhere, from the multimillion dollar homes popping up next to trailer parks, to the renovations taking place downtown.

When you go to Boynton Beach, you’ll want to spend the day at Oceanfront Beach where you can snorkel in and around one of South Florida’s largest natural and artificial reefs, or just laze on the vast expanse of white sand. So that you don’t have to leave the beach for lunch, stop at Flakowitz Deli, 7410 W. Boynton Beach Blvd. and pick up something to nosh on during the day.

Don’t eat too much though, you want to save room for dinner, especially if you’re going to Josie’s (and you definitely want to do that!). Tucked into the back of a shopping mall, right near the Woolbright bridge over to AIA.  Josie’s, family owned and operated since 1992, is a hidden treasure well known to the locals. As if you needed an incentive to stop by, the restaurant is offering 25 percent off the entire menu through September. Take into account the fact that the menu is quite reasonably priced to begin with and that makes it worth the trek alone.

On a quiet week night, as we waited for our friends to find Josie’s (they wandered around the parking lot for 10 minutes), I enjoyed a perfectly prepared Negroni. After everyone settled in we shared one of the daily special salads, fresh burrata with red and gold beets, pears and arugula. We also ordered a specialty of the house; Josie’s Calamari.

Our attentive and efficient waiter Matthew didn’t prepare us for the abundance of this dish. There were audible gasps as he placed a heaping platter of lightly crusted shrimp and calamari before us. The seafood was tossed with thinly sliced hot cherry peppers, lightly topped with garlic scampi sauce and was served with a side of roasted garlic aioli. The generous portion could easily serve four to six as an appetizer or as a filling meal is reasonably priced at $16 (and that’s before the 25 percent discount). The dish suffered a bit from a lack of salt (that proved to be a theme throughout the meal. Perhaps it’s a nod to the clientele’s dietary preferences.), but that was easily remedied by asking for salt and pepper.

Before we were aware of the size of the calamari portion, we’d also ordered the Forno pizza to share as an app. The slightly chewy crust arrived topped with sun dried tomatoes, olives and cheese. We barely touched it, but that wasn’t a comment on the quality, just pacing ourselves for the entrees we’d ordered.

A choice of soup or salad is included with each entree. On the night of our visit wonderful lentil soup was the special offered along with the made in-house minestrone brimming with vegetables. You can also opt for a complimentary garden salad or upgrade to a Caesar for a buck and half more.

After a brief break, which we needed to let our food settle, the entrees arrived, each more spectacular than the next. Chicken piccata proved a textbook example of this classic dish, brimming with capers and tender poultry in a white wine and lemon sauce. It was served with mashed potatoes and vegetables.

Veal Bersaglieri featured scaloppini sautéed with garlic, marinated artichokes, olives, capers and roasted bell peppers, in a white wine & lemon sauce. The catch of the day, swordfish, arrived perfectly grilled. The tender seafood was served with a refreshing pesto. We couldn’t pass up another of the restaurant’s signature dishes; Eggplant Stefania. Tender strips of grilled eggplant are wrapped around angel hair pasta tossed in garlic & oil, then topped with marinara and mozzarella before being garnished with a deep-fried angel hair pasta tuille!

You’d think we wouldn’t have room for dessert, and we shouldn’t have. But we did! The stars of our final course were made to order cannoli (they make the shells in house) and a budino parfait; rich chocolate pudding with layers of chocolate cookies and salted caramel. That’s not to say the pistachio and chocolate gelato weren’t just as fabulous.

Josie’s has an excellent cocktail and wine list with a great variety of reasonably priced by-the-glass options. Happy hour is served at the bar and on the patio daily from 2 to 6 p.m. and after 9 p.m. with special prices on beer ($2 draft, $3 bottle), wine ($4.50 house by the glass and bottles from $26 to $28), specialty cocktails ($6) and specialty martinis ($7).  The 25% discount does not apply to the happy hour specials.

 

Josie’s Ristorante

1602 S. Federal, Boynton Beach

561-364-9601

josiesristorante.com


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