Is there any other ethnicity that is as associated with bountiful food as Italian Americans? Whether you think back to movies with positive images such as “The Big Night” and “Moonstruck” or those that focus on the darker side of life; “Goodfellas” and “The Godfather” (when Richard S. Castellano portraying Peter Clemenza says, after murdering someone, “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”), Italians and food just seem to go together. It may be a stereotype, but in many stereotypes there is a nugget of truth. Italians love their food and there’s no shortage of places that offer good Italian-American fare in abundant portions, including a newcomer.
3300 NE 32nd St., Fort Lauderdale
After seven years in Rochester, N.Y., the owners of this regional old-school Italian-American restaurant chose South Florida, for its second location. The restaurant specializes in hearty food and substantial portions. Most entrees offer more than enough for two to share. For example, among the apps, the fried calamari, served with celery, fennel, capers, sweet peppers and pepperocini offers perfectly cooked seafood in a pile high enough for a mountain climber. A basket of chicken wings, perfectly crispy with caramelized onions and focaccia for sopping up the extra sauce is enough for a meal. However, while the meatballs may be sizeable (the pair served is almost obscene) they were a bit too tough.
The dinner salads, also enough for two as a meal or four as a starter, run the gamut of the usual suspects, but my favorite is the one topped with chicken Milanese, an ingenious pairing. Primo courses of pasta are more than enough for a meal. Each that I’ve tried has been perfectly cooked. My favorite is the most simple; spaghetti cacao e pepe; al dente pasta lightly coated with pecorino and Romano and a liberal dosing of black pepper.
The zuppa di pesce presents perfectly cooked shrimp and clams in an herbed white wine broth. However, it would be nice if the kitchen removed the lobster tail from its shell. It’s kind of hard to do so at the table, especially since I wasn’t provided with anything but my fork and a butter knife. The veal chop, perfectly prepared looked as if Wilma Flintstone should have been carrying it. I thought it was a roast at first glance.
In addition to the regular menu items, Tony D’s offers daily specials, much like Mama would make in her kitchen; Monday it’s roasted sausage, Thursdays brings lasagna and it wouldn’t be Friday without braciole. Saturday’s special is my fave, osso bucco.
The restaurant also offers a “$7 until 7” happy hour with 7 menu items for $7 from 5 to 7 p.m., Monday-Friday. The happy hour menu items are: polpettine (three house-made baby meatballs served in marinara with pecorino Romano and parmesan cheese), fettunta alla toscano (thick sliced grilled country bread with white beans, arugula, sliced porchetta), croquetta alla manzo (crispy short rib potato, mushroom, and cheese croquettas), calamari fritti (fried calamari with cherry peppers, olives, garlic and pecorino), Italian chicken wings (served crisp from the pizza oven with caramelized onions and focaccia bread), Margherita pizza (with mozzarella, marinara and basil) and Tony D’s bar burger. During happy hour wines by the glass are 50 percent off, wines by the bottle are 25 percent off, and cocktails of the day and flavored Bellinis are $7.
Here are some more Italian places serving up abundant portions of classic Italian-American fare.
2850 N. Federal, Fort Lauderdale
1990 E Sunrise, Fort Lauderdale