Guests at Caf? 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 Caf? 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 Caf? Vico?s tasty eats with bottles from around the world and more than 20 varieties available by the glass, and a new bar area features live entertainment nightly.
?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.
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]]
Since 1983, the staff at Antonino's Pizzeria & Restaurant has been flipping dough for Floridian pizza lovers alongside a menu of Italian classics. Diners devour discs in delicious diameters from 10" (from $6.99) to 16" (from $12.50), while valiant gobblers who aren't scared of an angle can create Sicilian masterpieces on a 16" by 16" canvas (from $14.25). The house's gourmet pizzas aid decision-making among families where everyone is the patriarch by including classic topping assemblies, such as the margherita ($9.00–$14.75)—made with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and garlic traversing a doughy terrain—and the white pizza ($8.25–$14.75)—uniting ricotta and mozzarella in a public demonstration of cheesy solidarity. Favorite ingredients are enveloped in a nine-inch bread hug on subs, such as the eggplant parmagiana ($5.99) or veal Milanese ($7.20), and dinner entrees, such as sautéed chicken francese ($12.99) and baked eggplant ($12.25), slay hunger abetted by accomplices including spaghetti, soup or salad, garlic rolls, and dinner forks with a grudge against being used for other meals. Lunch, served Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m.–3:30 p.m., includes many of the same pizzas and Italian classics make up the dinner menu. No matter what the meal or occasion, wine ($4.00–$4.99) and sangria ($2.75) give mouths a rouge tint perfect for making kiss prints on love notes or receipts to remember.
Within the bustling kitchen of Bistro Mezzaluna's new location just off the 17th Street Causeway, chefs fold local seafood and seasonal ingredients into an array of fine American and Italian-inspired dishes. Under the leadership of Chef Anish Rana, they shower rigatoni and linguini in fresh seafood and classic sauces, and season prime Angus beef steaks with brandy peppercorn and roasted garlic bordelaise. They also pay special attention to each meal's end, hand-crafting each dessert in-house instead of sourcing them to outside shops. Even though the venue is new, this commitment to delicious food isn't; rather, it's the same kind of top-notch cooking that's made the Zagat-rated restaurant a destination for more than 20 years.
The atmosphere is considerably quieter outside of the kitchen, where the elegant dining room's soft lights illuminate pristine white linen tablecloths and the Italian paintings that rest on the walls. On the lush new outdoor patio, the clink of wine glasses and sounds of al fresco dinners harmonize with the trickle of water cascading down a stone fountain. The restaurant also houses an upstairs banquet facility, which welcomes parties of nearly any size for family gatherings, business lunches, and festive parties. No matter where dinner takes place, servers dart nimbly about, outfitted with pitchers for pouring ice water and keys for opening wine bottles. Diners chatter amicably all the while, sipping on imported and American wines from the 4,000+ bottles that reside in the restaurant's professional-grade wine room.
Sette Bello Ristorante's chef and owner, Franco Filippone, moved with his family from Palermo, Sicily, when his father decided to open a restaurant in upstate New York. There, Franco learned the ins and outs of the industry before eventually setting out to work in upscale restaurant kitchens throughout Fort Lauderdale. Now, at Sette Bello, he's put his eye for detail and impeccable culinary skills to use—and the results have paid off. The spot has been awarded the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences' Five-Star Diamond Award and two awards of excellence from Wine Spectator magazine. Franco has also been named the official celebrity chef for the inaugural The Moody Blues Cruise, and is featured in 2012 America's Top Restaurant Recipes.
Inside the dining room, elegant cream columns uphold arched walls, and caramel-tinted lighting bathes the white-draped tables in a warm glow. The tables are topped with prawns wrapped in pancetta, pan-fried veal chop Milanese, and jumbo shrimp scampi. Bustling between tables, the wait staff tends to diners' needs, whether they'd like their glasses refilled or their beards fluffed. The New Times even dedicated an entire article to the "truly great service" at Sette Bello, writing that, "The servers here are craftsmen in the same way that the restaurant's owner, Franco Filippone, is a chef."