Though born in Sicily, Gianpiero Cangelosi moved throughout Europe, developing his skills as a restaurateur. In 1987, he finally landed by parachute in Pembroke Pines and opened Capriccio's Ristorante with the help of his wife Karen. Their traditional take on Italian cuisine quickly earned them a loyal legion of followers, and eventually the demand was too great to fit into one dinning room. They expanded their space with a second dining room and a lounge where a 6’5” chandelier shimmers above an octagonal granite bar. But as much as its surroundings have changed, the quality and authenticity of the food—which has earned the eatery multiple OpenTable Diner’s Choice awards—has not. The restaurant’s waiters ferry dishes of salmon and pine nuts, rack of lamb, and Black Angus filet mignon to tables of quietly salivating guests. Bites of braised veal shank or calamari pair with a dizzying array of wines from Italy, California, and Chile.
The restaurant’s decor reflects the origins of its cuisine–white Corinthian pillars flank sunny yellow walls marked by brick accents, arches, and ornately framed paintings. Diners lounge in wrought iron chairs as they listen to the standup routines of local violinists and pianists.
Anthony Russo's parents came to the U.S. from Sicily and Naples with a mind to preserve their family traditions. So, it's no wonder that their son picked up their love for cooking. He studied at their side, learning to craft Italian food and what came to be known as New York?style pizza, though first he had to invent New York. When Anthony left New York to move to Texas, he decided to keep the tradition of his family's pizza alive by opening his own pizza joint, Russo's New York Pizzeria. Houstanians took to the pie, and the business took off. Now, people enjoy Anthony's family recipes in 16 Texas cities, six states, five countries, and multiple realities.
Since 1969, Mario the Baker has regaled customers with the rich tastes of vodka sauce, baked eggplant, capicola subs, and cheesy pizzas. Since its inception, the restaurant has grown from a single storefront to a 14-location local fiefdom, built upon a foundation of crafting consistently delicious casual Italian cuisine, thin-crust New York–style pizzas, and traditional pasta dishes. Piping-hot garlic rolls accompany plates of shrimp scampi or chicken francese, and margherita pizzas and pineapple-topped hawaiian pies enliven celebrations of majestic T-ball-league triumphs and inconsequential T-ball-league defeats.
Trattoria Il Migliore is a neighborhood bistro tucked in a tiny strip mall, where traditional Italian fare is given a modern twist. The urban décor is felt immediately, thanks to exposed brick walls and pulsing rock music, though old black and white movies are always playing along one wall. The menu is equally esoteric, with highlights that include homemade Kobe meatballs, reimagined fettuccine, tagliatelle and gnocchi. Tableside bread service is familiar and satisfying, while the dessert tiramisu is the perfect ender to the evening. With large portions, it may be best to share a dish or two, but no matter what, guests should opt for the Tuscan fries – cut in-house, fried with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme and then tossed with a pinch of Parmesan cheese and crunchy herbs.
Yes Pasta! owner Flaminia Morin migrated from Rome to Miami with her prized collection of family recipes in tow. Stateside, she teamed up with chef Paolo del Papa to continue her family’s culinary traditions with the aid of fresh local and imported Italian ingredients. Seven kinds of pasta team up with 15 sauces and add-ons that seduce palates with flavors of wild mushrooms, fresh-crushed chili, and tart green capers. The menu’s aura of authenticity extends to the dining room, where cerulean-blue and white hues recall the airy Italian trattorias and olive-oil-gorged rain clouds of Rome.
Since 1994, Caffe Da Vinci's owner-cum-executive-chef Eric Drukmann has helmed a menu that forges rustic Italian tradition with contemporary flair. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the newly redesigned and renovated dining room's white tablecloths welcome spreads of homemade pasta, quiche, and sandwiches, while the walls hang on to low-lit Da Vinci drawings of perfectly round meatballs. Next door, a lounge serves up small, shareable plates and non-shareable drinks, with extended hours and live entertainment amid the gold-toned walls and glowing bar.