Maybe you haven’t been to Mojo because when you’re driving along Federal Hwy, you somehow miss it between Commercial Blvd. and Oakland Park Blvd. Maybe you haven’t been because it’s South Florida and you think it’s pronounced mo-ho like the type of cuisine, when it’s really pronounced a-la Austin Powers: “I’ve lost my mojo!” And for owners Domenick Faloione and Anthony DeMaio, this isn’t their first mojo.
The first Mojo opened in New Jersey in 1999. Faloione and DeMaio sold the restaurant in 2006 and headed south shortly thereafter. Mojo in its current formed opened in 2010 in Fort Lauderdale where it has been ever since.
Faloione and DeMaio have not only been partners professionally, but personally. They have traveled the world together for the last 33 years. Faloione, classically trained in Tuscany and Florence, opened his first restaurant at 24 years old. After decades residing in South Jersey, DeMaio and Faloione are no longer just snowbirds to South Florida, but full-time residents and local business owners. After three years with the Fort Lauderdale Mojo, they’ve earned the right to have the community’s support. Really, it’s surprising to even SFGN Fort Lauderdale residents that we hadn’t been here sooner.
When you walk in, the serene aqua walls will welcome you, making you feel like you’re on a beach, not Federal Highway. Faloione, who is not only part owner but also head chef, creates all of the artwork around the restaurant. If you’re impressed, feel free to buy one right off the wall. They’re for sale.
Mojo is open nightly, excluding Sundays, featuring happy hour specials ok weekdays from 5-7 p.m. On Monday, sip on $6 select martinis, mojitos and margaritas. On Wednesday, enjoy $5 wines by the glass, $6 martinis and half-priced well drinks and draft beer. There isn’t a night you visit that you won’t have something delicious to drink.
For dinner, start with the calamari – lightly battered in rice flour and club soda, flash-fried, and tossed in a sweet Thai chili sauce. Other restaurants you frequent may serve heavily breaded, chewy calamari with marinara sauce on the side. The calamari at Mojo will make you mentally erase any other version of calamari you’ve ever had in your entire life. It’s that good.
Browse the prefix menu, where you can get a soup or salad, entrée and dessert for $20. The soup of the day rotates, but don’t ignore the creamy Parmesan, potato and leak soup. For the main entrée, try the orange-glazed salmon, served over Asian vegetables and lo mein tossed in the same sweet Thai chili sauce as the calamari. If you’re not already full from the appetizer or soup, you will be after this only because you can’t stop eating.
If you’re ordering off the regular menu, grab the Char Sui Pork Chop – a 10-ounce center cut chop, stuffed with chorizo and cornbread cherry stuffing, served with sweet potato and jalapeno hush puppies and seasonal vegetables. It’s tender, juicy and exceptionally fresh. Repeat after me: don’t forget the pork chop.
For dessert – if you can make it that far – ask what the features are, since Anthony DeMaio bakes everything fresh and rotates options every few days. On a recent visit, we enjoyed DeMaio’s Almond Joy – a brownie topped with coconut gelato, white chocolate amaretto sauce and almonds. While no candy bars were served, it literally tasted like an Almond Joy, only better.
For the southerners who are fully aware of what a hummingbird cake is, DeMaio – a northerner! – makes one to die for. The cake closely resembles – but tastes nothing like – a carrot cake. The mixture of pineapple chunks with the bananas and cream cheese frosting make this cake a must have when you visit.
There’s no longer a reason to look over Mojo. With exceptionally fresh dishes, a welcoming atmosphere and intelligent staff, stop ignoring Mojo and go immediately.
If You Go:
4140 N. Federal Hwy
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
Monday-Thursday: 5-10 p.m.
Friday, Saturday: 5-11 p.m.