Don’t be alarmed by the “Welcome home!” greeting upon arrival at Santa Lucia in Fort Lauderdale. After your meal, you’ll realize you may never actually want to leave.

The restaurant opened up on Oakland Park Blvd. this summer to herds of locals looking to love this authentic Italian place with a modern atmosphere. It will not disappoint.

Start with a glass of wine — the extensive list is roughly half Italian, half international. Even the homemade specialty drinks, like the Dizzy Dezi, are refreshing and tasteful. This one combines Patron Silver and pineapple juice on the rocks ($9). The Al Capone is another big favorite: whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Campari ($9).

For your meal, don’t skip the grilled octopus ($16) or the calamari — lightly breaded and deep-fried, served with cherry peppers and a spicy marinara ($12). The antipasto misto carne — a combination of prosciutto, sopressata, capicola, roasted peppers, olives and mozzarella — is also a guest favorite ($14).

For the main course, you’ll look to spaghetti or linguini, and both are great choices. But ask if one of the specials is the homemade gnocchi — stuffed with truffle and topped with a sage brown butter sauce ($26). You’ll think you’re eating the clouds of heaven. Try your best not to make mmm’s and ahhhh’s too loud.

The Pappardelle Vesuviana is another wonderful option. Pappardelle is made fresh and service with ground sausage, porcini mushrooms, and a slightly spicy Bolognese ($22). If you’re looking for fresh made pasta and sauce, this is what you should be looking at. The veal scaloppini marsala, served with rosemary roasted potatoes and green beans, is also a delicious choice if available when you visit.

Don’t forget the pizzas! The margherita — mozzarella, fresh tomato, and basil — is a classic ($16). But the bianco, a sauceless four cheese and prosciutto blend, is simple and delicious ($19).

All desserts are made fresh in house, just like every pasta, bread, and sauce for meals. A cannoli is nice, but opt for the ricotta cheesecake or tiramisu. Rinse them both down with a fresh cappuccino, latte, or regular coffee.

While you may not have felt right at home at the beginning of your meal, chances are you will after your last cup of coffee. Welcome home.

If You Go:
Santa Lucia Ristorante
2701 East Oakland Park Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33306
(954) 396-0930
M-F: 11:30-11, Sat, Sun: 4 p.m.-midnight