Though SoLita Delray's lounge-like atmosphere hosts live music and DJs on the weekend, nightlife isn't even its main draw. In addition to a bustling lounge and courtyard, SoLita—or "south of Little Italy"— houses a hopping kitchen where chefs cook Italian meals using generations-old family recipes. Local and imported ingredients give zings of flavor to all dishes. Fresh pastas come draped in sauces from light, spicy tomato broth to rich mascarpone cream. For heartier fare, chefs grill rib-eye steaks, veal chops, and filet mignon or roast whole fish with lemon, olive oil, and jokes about diminutive fin size.
An extensive wine selection washes down elegant Italian meals at Saltimbocca Italian Bistro. Chefs slow-braise veal shank to craft the eatery’s signature osso buco entree, and fresh herbs such as basil and tarragon sprinkle plates of shrimp, scallops, and snapper. Steaks and chops don dapper dressings, including sautéed crimini mushrooms and a 25-year-old balsamic reduction still unsure of what to do with its liberal-arts degree.
The airiness of pale exposed brick and blond wood contrast with the heartiness of the traditional Italian fare at Vic & Angelo?s, helping explain why Zagat rated the Delray Beach and Palm Beach Gardens locations highly for both food and d?cor. In the kitchen, chefs douse pastas with rich toppings such as crab meat and white-wine sauce or slow-cooked beef ragu. The coal oven blasts pizzas with 900 degrees of heat, and all-natural steaks arrive from Chicago after being dry-aged for 21 days. To accompany meals, diners can choose from a long list of mostly Italian wines, or venture onto an outdoor patio to fill glasses with complimentary moonbeams.
Mootz's Italian Ice scoops homemade, health-conscious frozen treats in a spectrum of classic and inventive flavors. Bright-colored scoops of water-based and cream-based italian ices ($2.49 for a small / $4.49 for a large) fill dainty white cups with robust flavors such as pink lemonade, java crunch, birthday cake, and Red Bull. Ice cream and frozen yogurt ($2.49 for a small / $4.49 for a large) await a mosaic of cookies, candies, cheesecake pieces, and other toppings arranged in American Gothic replicas. Hot philly pretzels ($1.99) warm ice-numbed tongues with a salty embrace within their twisted bread arms.
As a pleasantly unpretentious pizza and pasta paradise, Rotelli entices regulars who stop by for lunch and dinner to gather with friends, raise a few glasses, and indulge in fine Italian meals. The menu taps its homeland heel with light starters, such as bruschetta italiana ($6.99) and crispy calamari ($9.99). It sends a swooping high-kick well north of Sicily with chicken parmigiana, layered in ricotta and mozzarella, served with pasta ($15.99), and hand-tossed Napoletana pizza, dressed in pepperoni, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and sausage ($10.99 for 10", $18.99 for 16").