Did you know that Wilton Manors has more restaurants per capita than most major cities? The adult population of Wilton Manors is about 10,000 people and there are 24 restaurants on Wilton Drive alone! That’s not even taking into account the four ice cream shops and the candy stor-gasm that is To The Moon!
It’s spring and that means the beginning of baseball season and I’ve visited two new restaurants. One hit it out of the park and the other struck out. And that’s about as far as I can go with baseball metaphors, so let’s focus on the restaurants.
As Barbie said, “Math is hard!” I couldn’t remember the math term for the equation that comes after squared (a number times itself) and cubed (a number times itself, then times itself again). It’s quartic and that’s the end of today’s math lesson, except for this equation 4 x B =? The answer is delicious; if B equals burgers, booze, beer and brunch, as it does at the two places we focus on today.
No, I’m not suggesting you join me au natural (believe me, no one wants to see me naked), I’m referring to chef Ralph Pagano’s latest venture, The Naked Crab, which recently opened in the B Ocean Resort. Pagano has also opened Naked Taco in Miami and Wynwood’s Naked Lunch.
Is it just me or does it seem as if there are massive apartment complexes popping up all over town? Although the Manor at Flagler Village, on Federal between 5th and 6th Avenues, has been around for a couple of years, I never thought to check out the restaurants there. They just seemed so…hetero. While visiting friends in Delray Beach, we dined at a Mellow Mushroom restaurant, that made me think of the one on Federal, which led to checking out the others in that mall. Although each is part of a chain (or mini-chain), all three offer design-your-own- dish options.
Regina's Farm gets lots of press about providing a unique Brazilian dining experience. Brazilian natives Regina Rodrigues and her husband Elizeu Silva are effusive hosts who produce an elaborate picnic buffet about three Saturdays a month. Each event draws about 150 people and there is a month-long waiting list for the three-course family style buffet meal.
Two new restaurants opened in the area within a few days of each other, representing two distinctly different cuisines; Wok on South Federal in Fort Lauderdale, bills itself as “A new breed of Pan-Asian street food,” while Ethos Bistro, in Wilton Manors offers modern Greek fare. Both are from successful restaurateurs; Ethos is a new outpost of an established Coconut Creek favorite, while Wok comes from Randy Wilcox, owner of New River Grill and Pizza, located right across the street from Wok. One would expect that Wilcox’s venture would be more polished, given his many years in the business, but Ethos opened with polish and finesse, while Wok’s staff was floundering in the weeds on a recent visit.
Don’t tell my husband, but I’m in love with award-winning pit-master Bryan Tyrell, co-owner of the latest Boynton Beach dining destination, Pig Sty. It began as a little gastonomical flirtation when he opened Smoke in Delray Beach, but the food at Pig Sty has me smitten. His way around a rack of ribs and a brisket just makes my heart flutter.
We have truly become a global village. As recently as 50 years ago, Italian and Chinese food were considered exotic in many parts of this country. In fact, you would have been hard-pressed to find any kind of ethnic restaurant outside of a big city. Now, thanks to the popularity of televised cooking programs, the Internet and the influx of immigrants who have added so much to our culture and communities (take that, Donald!) in the past decades, you can find almost any cuisine from any part of the world.
In typical South Florida fashion, St. Patrick’s Day in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and West Palm was an early bird special, with parades and festivals held nearly a week before the actual date of the Irish celebration. Fear not, even though a number of South Florida Irish spots recently closed; Slainte in Boyton Beach and The Tiled Kilt and Maguire’s Hill 16 in Fort Lauderdale (I swear my review of the place wasn’t that bad!), and your options for celebrating the patron saint of the Emerald Isle are a bit slimmer this year, there are still a number of spots where you can get your fill of green beer and Irish fare.
All right, I may be mixing up my islands with that headline; poke is Hawaiian, not Jamaican, but with poke being the latest food fad, I just couldn’t resist. I should amend that to say it’s trending on the mainland, because in Hawaii, it’s long been a standard dish, as ubiquitous at parties as spinach artichoke dip or potato salad. Poke (pronounced poh-keh) is a raw fish salad, usually served as an appetizer or over rice for a light lunch.
As Manhattan Transfer warbled in the song by Ben Oakland and Milton Drake,
“I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup (boy!)”
We’d already planned an overnight trip to Key West to visit friends vacationing there when we discovered two happy coincidences. As soon as we decided to head to Key West, we found out that one of our idols, Ed White, one of the godfathers of the post-Stonewall gay literary movement, was available to meet us for lunch.
Let’s face it; the Hard Rock Casino is not exactly known as a dining destination. Your options there include snack food chains (Ben & Jerry’s, Wetzel’s Pretzels, Kilwin’s) or the Hard Rock Café, where the best thing on the menu is the apps combo (wings, rings, chicken tenders, spring rolls and bruschetta) which are just there to soak up the alcohol. And the less said about the limited menu available poolside, at The Beach Club (a few apps, salads and a trio of sandwiches) the better. That’s okay, you go to Hard Rock to gamble or see a show, right?
Whether your mom was more like June Cleaver or Peg Bundy you no doubt have a special place in your heart for her. If you’re lucky enough to have her around here are some places you can take her to celebrate her special day, Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14.
A couple of popular restaurants have added new items to their menus and there are a there are some special events coming up, so let’s whip out our phones and add these events to our calendars. For those of you who like to go old-school and use actual datebooks, we’ll wait while you get them out, find a pen and open to the right date.
Usually one doesn’t want to see the words soft and opening together (there’s a pill for that), but in the restaurant biz, that means opening the door without much fanfare in the way of press or promotions. A “soft opening” is meant to give the staff time to establish a routine, find out what works and what doesn’t and to tweak the menu and schedules as needed.
Mojo, 4140 N. Federal, Fort Lauderdale, will host a La Crema Pinot Noir five-course wine dinner on March 14. The meal, priced at $95 per person, includes carpaccio, gnocchi, duck breast, braised pork and flourless chocolate cake, each course paired with wine. To make a reservation or for more information, call 954-568-4443 or go to Mojofl.com.