In doing research for this article, I was surprised to learn that Italian food is now only the third most popular ethnic cuisine in America, falling behind Chinese and Mexican.
However, that is based on the number of Internet searches for each cuisine. That might also be an indication that for many people pasta and other Italian dishes are no longer considered exotic ethnic fare. Five million Italians arrived on America’s shores between 1876 and 1930. So, the odds of one of us having an Italian nonna in the kitchen cooking those classic dishes may have increased.
If you aren’t lucky enough to have an Italian relative, you can head over to Rossini, a new Italian bistro that produces excellent renditions of dishes from northern Italy. The family atmosphere and classic cuisine make this place a standout. And, if you are lucky enough to have Christian as your server (as I was on two visits) you are in for a treat. He runs the dining room pretty much on his own, and as busy as that keeps him, he still manages to be as attentive as old Italian nonna.
The dining room feels like you’re sitting in an Italian kitchen, giving no indication of the fast-food place (Spatch Chicken) that used to occupy the space. The food that comes out of that kitchen is just as surprising. While it’s not particularly inventive, the classic northern Italian cuisine is prepared and presented to such perfection that you’ll peek into the open kitchen to see if a nonna is indeed in there.
Start with appetizers such as fried calamari, meatballs, creamy buffalo mozzarella, seafood antipasti, eggplant tower, bacon-wrapped dates, fried mozzarella, and beef carpaccio. My favorites though, are the crispy fried cauliflower with a chili sauce, and the impressive charcuterie board. It’s the priciest appetizer, at $21, but offers more than enough for a table of four to six. Of course, there is also a soup of the day and an array of salads, both individual and entrée sized.
Pasta dishes shine the brightest, with the option of fresh pasta made on premises, as well as whole wheat and gluten-free varieties. Prices for pasta dishes are reasonable, from $15 for a simple caprese, $16 for zesty puttanesca or creamy fettuccine Alfredo and $18 for a meaty Bolognese to $24 for lobster ravioli (with six plump pillowy pockets of dough the color of fresh cooked lobster). Primi piatti hover in the $25 to $30 range and include classics such as chicken or veal Milanese, piccata, and Parmigiana. Seafood such as salmon and branzino and meat-lovers’ faves, roast duck, and a beautifully grilled ribeye with gorgonzola, truffle, and balsamic reduction are also represented. Additionally, there are plenty of options for vegans and vegetarians, all indicated on the menu.
For a limited time, everything on the menu is 25% off, including wine and cocktails and there is also a cocktail hour menu that is quite the bargain. I wish I could tell you about the dessert menu, but the portions are so large, that I’ve never had room to fit in another bite, even after taking half my meal home with me.
Rossini Bar & Grill
3848 N. Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale
Open Wide and Say Yum
Greek Village Taverna will debut this summer next to the Gateway Theatre, replacing the old Mod Wine Lounge. Delray’s popular Tin Roof is opening a Fort Lauderdale location. The Nashville-based, music venue and bar-food chain are set to open this fall inside the recently shuttered Township bar. Watch for Lasso Gaucho Brazilian Steakhouse opening in the former Texas de Brazil space later this summer. Sounding more like a play from Ronnie Larson, watch for Lickie Stickie BBQ to open soon in Sunrise. Pitmaster Juliette Johnson has had a popular Southern Caribbean food stand at farmers’ markets in the area. Her brick-and-mortar dining room will offer barbecue fixings and sides daily.
A trio of new pizza restaurants is opening in Fort Lauderdale within a few weeks of each other. Watch for Flagler Pizza & Pasta, in the Victoria Park Shoppes; Mister 01 Extraordinary Pizza in Flagler Village and Patio Bar & Pizza, in Progresso. Flagler Pizza is headed up by Pablo Crespo and Juliano Viersa, both formerly with Casa D’Angelo. Mister 01 will be the eighth South Florida location. Patio Bar & Pizza will utilize the walled courtyard in the nearly 100-year-old Progresso Plaza. It’s from Brian Parenteau, of DrYnk and Tulio’s Tacos. You can expect Patio to open in August.
Not So Golden
Bargain buffet chain Golden Corral lost a lot of business during COVID and never really recovered. However, a couple of its former locations will serve as home to stand-alone operations. Wenwen Li’s Flaming Grill & Modern Buffet in Pompano Beach serves all-you-can-eat sushi and hibachi dishes for lunch and dinner. Minato Japanese Buffet, Qi Feng Dong’s sushi, sashimi, and seafood-focused spot, takes over the former Pembroke Pines Golden Corral on Pines Blvd.
So Long, Farewell
We’re not surprised at the closing of American Icon Brewery Kitchen & Taproom. We’re more surprised that it was able to survive so long. The food and service never lived up to the décor, featuring breathtaking murals of rock legends Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix. The flagship brewery in Vero Beach remains open. Tipico Café closed its Gateway Shopping Center space after more than 20 years, citing the dramatically rising rents. FAT Village, which longed to be our version of Wynwood, is dead and gone. The last places on 2nd Avenue NW are shuttering as the entire area faces the wrecking ball. FAT Village founder and co-owner Doug McCraw who said he wanted to build a home for artists, held out for years. But, in the end, he couldn’t resist the dollar signs and sold out. The land will now be home to mixed retail and residential mid-rises properties.
Photos available at https://www.rossinibarandgrill.com/gallery