Rick's Reviews

  • Three seats on the Wilton Manors City Commission are up for grabs in the Nov. 3, 2020 election and the campaigning has begun to heat up.

  • For helping many people over the years, Compass is awarded SFGN's Best of the Best award for 2020.

  • To paraphrase that great philosopher, Dorothy Gale, “Things come and go so quickly here.” In the six years that I’ve been covering dining in South Florida for SFGN, I have reviewed numerous restaurants in the same location.  

  • While the hospitality industry has been decimated, five area eateries have made adaptations that have allowed them to survive during the pandemic.

  • Even after we go back to a sense of normalcy, the COVID crisis will have changed the way we dine out forever. Some of these changes are long overdue.

  • Many residents in Wilton Manors received a legislative action alert request directly from the city, encouraging them to email their State Representatives with the statement that “short-term vacation rentals are bringing down property values, and in many cases, forcing residents to put their home on the market.”

  • During the pandemic, folks have been indulging in their guilty pleasures a little more than usual.

  • Like most businesses, the hospitality industry has been hit hard by the pandemic.

  • One of the first places I dined at after when I came down to Wilton Manors nine years ago looking to relocate was the original Mason Jar Café (on the land where the now-shuttered TooJay’s on Federal now stands).

  • One thing you can say about the South Florida dining scene is that it’s never boring.

  • Sistrunk Marketplace, which formerly housed the Eli Witt Cigar & Tobacco company, is now a 24,000 square foot food hall, mixed-use event space and retail concept.   

  • I prefer not to review a restaurant until it’s been open a few weeks, but Tulio’s, the latest place to occupy the corner of Wilton Dr. and 21st. Ct. had folks waiting for it to open for months.

  • 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!

  • A is for acclaimed. A is for affable. A is for accomplished. Finally, A is for Angelo, as in Angelo Elia, the Italian-born chef/restaurateur, whose impressive roster of dining establishments includes three Casa D’Angelo restaurants (Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and Paradise Island/Bahamas), as well as a growing chain of wildly-popular casual-chic Italian eateries – Angelo Elia Pizza, Bar, Tapas (Fort Lauderdale, Weston, Delray Beach and Coral Springs) and the Angelo Elia Bakery Bar.

  • 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.

  • For quite some time, Cuba was a tropical playground for Americans looking for a quick getaway. Then came Castro’s Communist regime, followed by an American embargo and suddenly, Cuba was cut off from most of its suppliers. With little in the way of raw materials, the Cuban people made the best with what they had. Old American autos were kept running for years beyond their life expectancy. With limited agricultural resources the, Cuban people were equally resourceful.

  • 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.

  • The cuisine of Peru, like many South American countries, reflects influences from the indigenous population, including the Incas, as well as cuisines brought in with immigrants from Europe (Spain and to a lesser extent, Italy and Germany). 

  • 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. 

  • One of the best things about covering the food industry is that there are always so many places giving back to the community. Here’s just a short listing of some upcoming and recent events.

  • Correction; Piri piri spices are South African in origin, not South American, as I stated in a previous column. I apologize for the error.

     

    Two fast/casual restaurants opened recently and both are off-shoots of established players in the South Florida food scene; one a small family-run operation and the other big player in the Fort Lauderdale restaurant industry.

  • 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.

  • The Alchemist, named Wilton Manors’ “Best Kept Secret” in our recent “Best of” issue, is certainly that. It can be found in Eucalyptus Gardens, a garden of earthly delights tucked along a side street in Wilton Manors. The Alchemist may be the city’s best kept secret, but its neighboring restaurants, Voo La Voo Café and La Frutera Garden Bar, are equally rare gems waiting to be discovered.

  • 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.

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