Guests at Café Vico find themselves dining under the watchful eyes of A-list celebrities, both past and present. That’s because nearly every inch of the eatery’s mustard-yellow walls is covered by black-and-white headshots of such famous faces as Marlon Brando and Michael Caine. These photos, along with a plethora of burnished wooden wine racks and baked terra-cotta floors, flow throughout each of Café Vico’s four dining rooms—the VIP room, the Old room, the Middle room, and the Coliseum room—tying the interior into a cohesive, welcoming space.
Chef and owner Marco Vico only enhances the restaurant’s visual appeal with his authentic, handcrafted Italian dishes and old-school charm—according to South Florida Food and Wine, he kisses the hand of every lady who walks in. The menu coddles sensory receptors with many classic entrees such as eggplant parmesan, veal piccata, and osso buco. Its real draw, however, is the fresh pasta, which the chef cuts into thick strips of fettuccini, round ravioli, or fancy bow ties for his attentive wait staff. An extensive wine list supplements Café Vico’s tasty eats with bottles from around the world and more than 20 varieties available by the glass.
“The standard question down here is, ‘Don’t you ever get tired of doing this?’ And we always say, ‘It’s better than working’,” Captain Gary Bobrick says in a Sun Sentinel video. It's easy to believe that he enjoys his job because it usually involves piloting a sightseeing boat through Fort Lauderdale's river ways to point out celebrity mansions and massive luxury boats. In addition to views of prime real estate, his tours often afford glimpses of flitting manatees and iguanas lounging along the shores. On the vessel’s lower level, patrons can congregate in an air-conditioned dining room and replenish with tropical punch and ice cream. Along the way, Captain Bobrick or his tour guides impart anecdotes about cultural heavyweights, as well as the role waterways play in fueling the region’s legendary water-balloon fights.
Though Solita Las Olas's lounge-like atmosphere has been known to attract celebrities, such as the Miami Heat's Udonis Haslem, nightlife isn't even its main draw. In addition to a bustling upscale lounge and dining room, 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 fresh pasta dishes, draped in sauces from spicy white wine tomato sauce to rich Parmesan cream. For heartier meals, chefs grill rib-eye steaks, veal chops, and filet mignon, or sizzle the catch-of-the-day with garlic, capers, and a sense of man's dominance over the mighty ocean.
From its skyscraper façade to its menu of New York–style pizzas, paninis named for famous landmarks, and Italian specialties to rival any Little Italy spot—Empire Pizza Café’s New York theme saturates every facet of the restaurant. Thin, crispy crust pizzas range from classic cheese to the creative, such as mashed-potato-bacon and chicken-marsala pies. Wine, bottled beers, and steamy cups of Lavazza cappuccino and espresso pair with upscale fare such as chicken and veal entrees, plates of pasta, and sautéed cummerbunds.:m]]
Located in the posh il Lugano Suite Hotel, da Campo Osteria offers a memorably luxe dining experience focusing on seasonal Tuscan dishes. The restaurant's impeccably designed interior features neat, contemporary décor and a warm, earthy color palate that helps to soothe inflamed stress nodes and gently waken dozing appetites. Guests can enjoy the cozy ambiance as they dine on the expertly crafted culinary creations of chef Todd English. Having established successful restaurants around the nation, Chef English is also a James Beard Foundation award winner and was even named one of People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People," a fact which ensures his meals are as handsome as they are delicious. Stop by and mellow with a glass of wine while sampling handcrafted pastas, fresh mozzarella prepared at tableside, and more from an always-shifting dinner menu.
The chefs at Ciao Pasta enlist farmers'-market ingredients, high-quality meats and seafood, and hand-crafted pasta sauces to create a menu of American and Italian favorites. Like a matronly kindergarten teacher, golden-fried-mozzarella morsels with marinara dipping sauce and loaded nachos piled high with spicy beef or chicken, black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese, and jalapeños, facilitate friendly sharing. Grilled shrimp, creamy house-made alfredo sauce, and fresh basil beckon to forks from atop a throne of bowtie, penne, wheat penne, or linguini pasta, and roast sirloin with grilled onion and mushrooms comforts bellies better than the promise of a new belt. Sips from the full bar’s lineup of bottled beers and drafts—such as Yuengling Lager ($4.70)—complement fare, and wine and specialty cocktails—such as frozen piña coladas and margaritas ($7)—cosset tongues in a frosty finish.