Sunday, August 3, 2014

Tallest hotel in Western Hemisphere - Marriott Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Central Park

Marriott Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Central Park
1717 Broadway (entrance at 321 W 54 St)
New York, NY 10019
212-324-3774

By Jane Feehan

The Marriott Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Central Park towers over other hotels in New York City; it also stakes claim as the tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere. It took nearly a decade to build its 65 stories with spectacular views when it opened late December 2013. Adjoining Courtyard is part of the new hotel complex and guests share common areas with those of the Residence Inn.

Don’t expect the typical Residence Inn suite.  Many rooms are quite small (especially those in room
numbers ending in 3; rooms ending in the number 4 are more spacious) but all accommodate travelers with compact kitchens. A small fridge, microwave, dishwasher, dishes and cookware are available. I asked for a hot plate for a long stay and they delivered it within minutes of my request. If hotel room cooking is not your pleasure, food delivery is quite popular in New York City and there are, according to one restaurant owner, 24 restaurants on two blocks nearby.

Like most new hotels, this Marriott (a franchise) has a few facility problems to work out. Guests have told me their air conditioning unit or refrigerator had to be repaired or replaced. Air conditioning in my room went out until a part was quickly changed. Fire alarms went off a few times the first month it was open and a very small electrical fire during my stay was cause for an evacuation of several floors. Service problems in their two great rooms have yet to be settled but it is coming together; staff is extremely responsive and engineers are available around the clock.

The hotel provides a laundry room, a rarity in New York City hotels, and comes equipped with plenty of washers and driers. A breakfast buffet and full bar with a light menu is also available. Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Central Park also has an outstanding fitness center with a stunning vista of the city skyline. Located on Broadway, this hotel lies at the epicenter of the theater district. Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Central Park are each a 10 minute walk away; so is boisterous Times Square. Business or leisure travelers will be pleased with this new addition to Marriott; the Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Central Park lies within a short distance of  the best the city has to offer.



Tags: New York City Hotels, Marriott hotels, Marriott hotel reviews, Residence Inn, Jane Feehan, tallest hotel in Western Hemisphere

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Rue 57 - a bit of Paris with a NYC following

Rue 57
60 W. 57 Street
New York City, 10019
Mon-Fri: 7:30 a.m.- Midnight
Sat-Sun: 9 a.m.-Midnight
Brunch – Sat-Sun: 9 a.m.-3 :30 p.m.
212-307-5656 -Rue57.com, delivery 

By Jane Feehan

When I asked some New Yorkers for a short list of good restaurants near my hotel, Rue 57 was at the top. A “Brasserie Parisienne et Sushi Bar,” Rue 57 is a clamorous place with interesting fare that continues to beckon my return.

Located a few blocks from Central Park at the busy corner of 57th and Avenue of the Americas, Rue 57 serves up some beautiful dishes for brunch, lunch and dinner. My first meal there, lunch, was a turkey burger with fries served with a side of artichokes and tomatoes that placed my pedestrian choice over the top.  A sautéed red snapper special on the second visit wasn’t as intriguing, nor the kale salad with apples and citrus dressing, which didn’t prove as tasty as the menu suggested. The salad was redeemed when more apples and dressing were delivered upon request. The not-so-fresh snapper was prepared beautifully but the dish was an unpleasant juxtaposition of mediocre ingredients and a valiant attempt at a cover up. A pleasant dessert of Profiteroles (cream puffs) in chocolate sauce made me soon forget the main course.  We returned a few weeks later for fluffy French toast with fruit, and an omelet with three cheeses ...  a perfect brunch.

I’ve yet to sample their sushi with so many dishes to choose from … next time. Service is quite good, reservations recommended, especially during peak hours when visitors vie with locals for a table at this popular corner of 57th Street and Aveune of the Americas. Full bar and sidewalk table seating available.


Tags: New York City brunch, restaurants near Central Park, restaurants near the Marriott Residence Inn Central Park, NYC sushi restaurants 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Coolinary Café - American culinary variations - Palm Beach Gardens

Coolinary Café
4650 Donald Ross Rd. Suite 110
561-249-6760
Open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Closed Sundays

By Jane Feehan

Authentic American dining with an innovative twist or two is in store for diners at the fast-paced Coolinary Café. Look for a spartan room tucked away in the Donald Ross Villages Plaza with people waiting to get a seat. It’s worth the wait.

For those who’ve dined at Charlie’s Reef Grill (Juno) and Little Moir’s Food Shack (Jupiter), Coolinary will seem familiar: an austere elongated dining space with tables, some counter seating and an open kitchen with a few very organized pros preparing food at the grill. Owners of the three places once worked together.

The menu at Coolinary Café changes often to accommodate season, availability and local sources. I supped on very fresh, delicately sautéed Pompano with lemon butter and sautéed brussel sprouts – a plate that could have met the standards of a sophisticated, more formal dining establishment. The same can’t be said about the Bouillabaisse, their version of a fish stew.

This stew was an American take on the Marseilles, France dish, which includes fish not available here but Coolinary’s version was lacking in imagination. The soup was mildly spicy—and flavorsome— but the seafood used was mainly shrimp with a few pieces of swordfish.

A very American dish was the boneless Southern fried chicken atop a jalapeno cheddar waffle with grilled lemon and coleslaw. The café put chicken and waffle together as if it had been that way from the beginning. New Orleans served as inspiration for one of their starters, crab and corn beignets. Innovative in flavor and texture, this gem is enough for a meal for one or an appetizer for three. It’s one of their most popular plates.

Coolinary does wonderful things with waffles. I ordered a “carrot cake-inspired” waffle with whipped cream and another maple-based topping. The waffle was tender and moist. There was no mistaking this was an American original, a great way to top off a meal at this fun and creative eatery.


Wine and beer served. Casual atmosphere but not ideal for small children at night; it’s a small room.

Tags: Palm Beach Gardens restaurants

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Open a casual seafood eatery, diners will come: Carmine's Crab Shack in Palm Beach Gardens

Carmine’s Crab Shack
2000 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens
Open daily 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.


By Jane Feehan

Carmine’s Crab Shack was open only two days when we ventured in to try some seafood. Normally I’d wait until a restaurant has its groove on before writing about it but this place is well on its way. Carmine Giardini has already chaulked up a number of dining successes in South Florida and in Palm Beach Gardens.

His newest eatery was filling up a few minutes before noon but we were immediately seated in the rustic sea-themed dining room at a large booth. Its table was covered with brown paper for those who indulge in crabs but for us it was too early to enjoy their headliner. Instead, we ordered a lobster roll, a Maryland crab cake sandwich and Clams Oreganata.

Delivered on a roll with a bulky piece of lettuce to give appearance of meat aplenty, the very fresh lobster sandwich would have been near perfect with a tablespoon more of the sea meat and a pinch of spice. Lots of fries and tiny sides of tasteless coleslaw or equally dull potato salad came with the meals.
(Management is deliberating whether fries will be included for the sake of presentation going forward. I vote YES.) The Maryland crab cake was made with more crab meat than bread, the way they should be. Clams Oreganata—clams in the shell baked with breadcrumbs and olive oil with a sprinkle of cheese—were delicious.

Carmine’s menu is ambitious with seafood galore: crabs, shrimp, lobster, fish, seafood tacos, PEI mussels, Ipswich clams, conch fritters, conch salad and more.  A few pasta entrees, some  meat dishes and a kids menu will quash any reason for not visiting Carmine’s Crab Shack.  It’s casual, reasonably priced and features a large, friendly bar (filled by 1 p.m.) for dining or socializing. Our server did a great job and the manager came by to ask if we had any suggestions as we left. This will be a busy dining spot; they are off to a great start.






Tags: Seafood restaurant Palm Beach Gardens, casual dining Palm Beach Gardens, lobster in Palm Beach Gardens, conch fritters in Palm Beach Gardens.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Easter brunch & dining 2014 - Broward and Palm Beach counties





Here are a few ideas for Easter 2014 dining. Some listed serve brunch. More may be added.


Fort Lauderdale

Beauty and the Feast - 954-567-8070
Atlantic Hotel & Spa
601 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd
www.society8.com
Breakfast/brunch 7 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Blue Moon Fish Co. 954-267-9888
4405 W. Tradewinds Ave.
Lauderdale by the Sea, 33308
Brunch 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
Adults $58.95 (plus tax and tip); children 6-12  $24 (plus tax and tip) ; children under six, free
http://bluemoonfishco.com/

B-Ocean Hotel - 954-564-1000
999 North Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale
10 a.m. -2 pm. free. Adults-$69- (plus tax and tip); children $31- (plus tax and tip); under five free
www.bhotelsandresorts.com/

Grille 401 - 954-767-0222
401 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Open 2-9 - Easter and regular menu
www.grille401.com/

American  Social – 954-764-7005
721 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Lunch menu and buffet – 11a.m. -2:30 p.m.
americansocialbar.com

15th Street Fisheries - 954-763-2777
1900 SE 15th Street, Fort Lauderdale
Easter dinner (check hours) Chef's lobster special
www.15streetfisheries.com

Chart House - 954-561-4800
3000 NE 32 Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Serving 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
chart-house.com

Chima Steakhouse - 954-712-0580
2400 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale 
Noon to 3 p.m.; 4 to 9 p.m.
Brunch: $42.50 Adults; $21.50 children
http://chima.cc/site/  

Coconuts 954-525-2421
429 Seabreeze Blvd,,Fort Lauderdale 33316
Brunch 9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.; regular menu rest of day
http://coconutsfortlauderdale.com/

Foxy Brown 754-200-4236
723 E. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Brunch all day - 9:30 a.m.- 4 p.m.
http://myfoxybrown.com/

Johnny V -954-761-7920
625 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Brunch 11:30 a.m.
www.johnnyvlasolas.com/

J Marks - 954-390-0770
1245 N. Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale
Open 11-3

Lauderdale Grill - 954-524-1118
1901 Cordova Rd., Harbor Shops - Fort Lauderdale
Brunch from 10 am
www.lauderdalegrill.com

Lips Fort Lauderdale - The Ultimate in Drag Dining - 954-567-0987
Three-course lunch - $23.50
1421 E. Oakland Park Blvd.
www.floridalips.com/

Lobster Bar & Sea Grill - 954-772-2675
450 E. Las Olas Blvd.
Open noon to 9 p.m. - Dinner menu
www.buckheadrestaurants.com/lobster-bar-sea-grille

Marriott Harbor Beach     Main number 954-525-4000
3030 Holiday Drive, Fort Lauderdale
Riva Restaurant 954-765-3100  
Brunch – various seatings
www.marriott.com

Pelican Grand Beach Resort    954-568-9431
2000 North Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
North Ocean Grill
Serving  brunch: Seatings at 11:30 to 3:30 p.m.
www.pelicanbeach.com/

Riverside Hotel 954-467-0045
Brunch: 11:00 am – 4 p.m.
620 East Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
http://www.riversidehotel.com/

Aruba Beach Café   954-776-0001
1 Commercial Blvd., Lauderdale by-the-Sea, Florida 33308
Easter breakfast brunch: 9 – 11:30 a.m.
http://arubabeachcafe.com/

Downtowner Saloon 954-463-9800
Special Easter Brunch - 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
10 S. New River Drive East, Fort Lauderdale
http://downtownersaloon.com/

Bimini Boatyard 954-525-7400
Brunch: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. 
1555 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale
www.biminiboatyard.com/

W Hotel – 954-414-8200
401 North Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd.
Steak 954  - a la carte menu 11 am-3 pm
www.wfortlauderdalehotel.com

Ritz Carlton Fort Lauderdale 954-465-2300
Via Luna, Noon to 4 p.m.         
1 North Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd.
www.ritzcarlton.com/

Shooter's Waterfront - 954-566-2855 (New owner, renovated)
3033 NE 32 Ave, Fort Lauderdale 33308
Open at 11:30 - regular menu
www.shooterswaterfront.com/

Thasos Greek Taverna - 954-200-6006
3330 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
A la carte lunch - open at 2 p.m.
http://thasosgreektaverna.com/

Margate
McDivot's at Carolina Golf Club - 954-753-3500, ext 207
3011 Rock Island Rd.
Grand buffet - call for hours
www.carolinagolfclub.com/

Dania

Tropical Acres 954-989-2500 
Easter menu, check for hours
2500 Griffin Rd., Dania
www.tropicalacres.com/ 

Hollywood

GG's  954-929-7030
606 N. Ocean Dr., Hollywood
Brunch 10:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
www.ggswaterfront.com/

Pompano Beach

Galuppi’s 954-785-0226
1103 North Federal Hwy, Pompano Beach
Brunch: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
http://galuppis.com/

J Marks - 954-782-7000
Copans (NE 23 St), just west of Federal
Open 11-3

Seaside Grill - 954-783-3193
1406 N. Ocean Blvd., Pompano
Brunch 10 a.m.
www.seasidegrill.com


Deerfield Beach

Deer Creek Golf Club      954-421-5553
Grille Room
2801 Country Club Blvd., Deerfield Beach
Serving  brunch:  Check for hours
www.deercreekflorida.com/

Embassy Suites
BT’s Oceanfront 954-426-0478
950 SE 20 Ave, Deerfield Beach
Easter dinner:  12:30-6 pm.
http://bit.ly/1pGh346

JB's on the Beach 954-571-5220
300 North Ocean Blvd., Deerfield Beach
Brunch: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
www.jbsonthebeach.com/

Oceans 234                     954-428-2539
234 N. Ocean Blvd., Deerfield Beach 33441
Brunch  10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
www.oceans234.com/
  
Osteria Sapori - 754-227-5961 – Lunch-Dinner
1554 SE 3rd Ct, Deerfield
http://osteriasapori.com/index.php

Boynton Beach

Prime Catch  – 561-737-8822
700 East Woolbright Rd. Boynton Beach
Regular menu; call to check about special brunch
www.primecatchboynton.com/

Delray Beach

Atlantic Grille -561-665-4900 at  the Seagate Hotel
1000 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach
Easter Brunch 9 a.m-2:30
www.theatlanticgrille.com

D'Angelo Trattoria - 561-330-1237
9 SE 7th Ave, Delray Beach
Dinner 5-10 p.m.

Deck 84 -561-665-8484
840 East Atlantic Blvd., Delray Beach
Brunch (regular) starting at 11 a.m.  – call for details

Sundy House        561-272-5678
106 S. Swinton Avenue, Delray Beach, Florida  33444
Brunch   Seatings start at 10:30 and end with 7 pm seating

Old Calypso      561-279-2300
900 E. Atlantic Blvd. Delray Beach, Florida 33483
Brunch: 11 a.m. -4 p.m.

Marriott Delray Beach     561-274-3219
10 N. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach, Florida  
Brunch in the Seacrest Ball Room with seatings from 11 a.m.-  2:30 p.m.

Boca Raton

Abe & Louie's - 561-447-0024
2200 W. Glades Rd Boca Raton, FL 
Serving brunch 11:30 am-3 pm
www.abeandlouies.com

Brio Tuscan Grille 561-392-3777
Brunch 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
5050 Town Center Circle,Boca Raton 
www.brioitalian.com

Josephine's 561-988-0688
5751 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton
Easter Dinner 5-10 pm

Renaissance Hotel (Marriott) 561-368-5252
2000 N.W. 19th St., Boca Raton
Brunch 
www.marriott.com

Jupiter

The Bistro 561-744-5054
2133 South U.S. Highway 1, Jupiter
Easter menu 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Sugar Cane Island Bistro - 561-743-4177
353 South US Hwy 1, Jupiter, FL
Brunch 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Jupiter Beach Resort and Spa   561-746-2511
Sinclair’s - Buffet: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
5 North A1A Jupiter, Florida 33477
www.jupiterbeachresort.com/

Schooners 561-746-7558
1001 N. Hwy A1A, Jupiter
Brunch: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Palm Beach Gardens

Cafe Chardonnay - 561-627-2662
4533 PGA Blvd.
Palm Beach Gardens
Brunch menu 11 a.m. 2:30 p.m.; dinner at 4 p.m.

Paddy Mac's 561-691-4366
10971 N. Military Trail, Palm Beach Gardens
Usually open at noon pm. Call to check for Easter hours. Brunch and lunch, dinner

Waterway Café 561-694-1700
2300 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens
Serving brunch 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
www.waterwaycafe.com

Grandes Bella Cucina - 561-932-0840
4580 Donald Ross Rd.
Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Brunch 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
www.grandesflorida.com

Palm Beach

The Breakers Palm Beach     561-659-8488
One South County Road Palm Beach
Several venues for brunch. Call or visit website for details 
www.thebreakers.com

Ta-boo 561-835-3500
221 Worth Avenue, Palm Beach
Serving brunch 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

Charley’s Crab Palm Beach 561-659-1500
456 South Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach
Brunch: 10 a.m – 2:30 p.m.

Chesterfield Palm Beach (hotel) 561-659-5800
Cocoanut Row, Palm Beach
Leopard Restaurant
Brunch served 11 a.m -2:30 p.m.

Eau Palm Beach (formerly the Ritz) 561-533-6000
100 S Ocean Blvd, Manalapan
Call for seatings
www.eaupalmbeach.com

Four Seasons Hotel -561-582-2800
2800 South Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach
The Restaurant
Brunch : 12-6 p.m

Michael R. McCarty's 
561-659-1899 
50 Cocoanut Row, Palm Beach
Regular brunch 11 a.m.- 3:30 p.m.
www.michaelrmccartyspalmbeach.com

Palm Beach Grill
340 Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach
Open normal hours (no brunch) 5-10 p.m.
www.hillstone.com/  

Dune Deck Cafe        561-582-0472 - very casual
100 N. Ocean Blvd. 7 am - 4:30
Lantana, FL (across from the Eau de Palm Beach) 33462
www.dunedeckcafe.com/

Testa’s -561-832-0992
221 Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach
Brunch (regular brunch):  7 a.m. – 2 p.m.
www.testasrestaurants.com/

Omphoy Ocean Resort -561-540-6440
2842 South Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach
The Terrace  - (regular Sunday Brunch) – 11:30-3 p.m.
omphoy.com

West Palm Beach

Elks Club
Buffet  10 a.m-2 p.m.
Adults $21.95; children under 12: $15.95
Easter egg hunt 2-3 p.m.
Call X-Cel catering at 814-270-3120

E.R. Bradleys – 561-833-3520
104 Clematis St., West Palm Beach
Brunch: 8 a.m-2 p.m.
www.erbradleys.com

Hilton Palm Beach Airport -561-684-9400
150 Australian Ave., West Palm Beach
Brunch served in ballroom - call for details

Wellington
International Polo Club 561-204-5687
3667 120th Ave., Wellington
Easter Brunch 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. (open to public)


Tags: Easter brunch 2014 Fort Lauderdale. Easter brunch Broward County, Easter brunch Palm Beach, 
Easter dining in Broward County, Easter dining Palm Beach, Easter brunch Hollywood, Easter 2014, 
Easter brunch in Boynton





Sunday, March 2, 2014

Kitchenetta - modern Italian family style. Sort of.

Kitchenetta
2850 N. Federal Hwy
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33306
954-567-3333
Tues-Thurs: 5:30-10 p.m.
Fri & Sat: 5:30-11 p.m.
Sun: 5:30-9 p.m.
kitchenetta.com


By Jane Feehan

A stark modern setting with bare floors and high ceilings and an equally austere patio facing Federal Highway belies Kitchenetta’s concept of traditional Italian family-style presentation. Its ascetic décor seems to beckon the trendy set rather than families with children on an outing.

But family style entrées created in a busy open air kitchen dominate a board of daily specials brought to each diner. They really push these daily offerings, which include quality seafood. Mussels and clams served in a flavorful, full-bodied red sauce was enough for three as an appetizer. They were delicious as was the main course of fresh cod loaded with cherry tomatoes and cured olives—again for about three mouths. A side order of Italian broccoli in oil and hot pepper flakes could be shared by at least four. They make bread to “order,” which is really (they say) pizza dough with nothing atop. It’s great to sop up sauce with but not impressive on its own. Ask for two forks when ordering their ricotta cheesecake, which is not too sweet—the Italian way—and with lots of texture.

No half or side orders of pasta here, but they do serve both single and family-sized portions from the regular menu. On Sundays, Kitchenetta cooks up the time-honored weekend meal of macaroni and gravy (pasta served with slow-cooked red sauce and various meats). It’s the dish that would keep Nona, grandmother, in the kitchen at home for hours.

If one can get the hang of how and what to order, a delicious meal awaits, but family-style here seems more a profitable revenue model than homage to Italian culture.  I’ll return for the pizza. They do try hard to please and service is excellent. Just don’t expect an old-style neighborhood Italian eatery with candles, cozy corners—or pasta side dishes. Reservations recommended. Beer and wine. Free valet parking.








Tags: Italian restaurants Fort Lauderdale, east Fort Lauderdale restaurants, Fort Lauderdale pizza

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fresh First, where gluten-free and flavor team up in Fort Lauderdale

Fresh First
1637 SE 17th Street (next to Bimini Boatyard)
Fort Lauderdale, 33316
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday
Delivery available

By Jane Feehan

A gluten-free diet may be the latest food fad to some; for others it’s required eating to stay out of a doctor’s office or hospital. For both groups it’s often equated with deprivation of tasty foods. Not so at Fresh First, a small café off the 17th Street Causeway, which touts itself as “South Florida’s first 100 percent gluten-free organic eatery and juicery.”

It’s healthy at this casual restaurant, but most important, the food is good. Lots of salad choices grace the menu but there is a terrific selection of sandwiches—turkey or veggie burgers, grilled chicken, tuna melts, vegetable Paninis, grilled cheese—and quinoa dishes, raw foods, and house-made soups. Their version of gluten-free bread is a perfect envelope for any sandwich. I sampled a mushroom turkey burger with a side of organic slaw for about $14 and ended the meal with a marvelous cranberry cookie of the day (about $4). It’s somewhat pricey, but Fresh First has gluten-free and organic down to an art form; there are no flavor deficits here. They offer a children's menu, a few desserts, including cupcakes, and breakfast. They also sell organic wines.

The big test was to indulge in one of their Belgian waffles with bananas and walnuts for breakfast. The waffle, fluffy and ample, will appeal to all who like to start the day off with a little healthy decadence. (Yes, at Fresh First these two words do go together.) Their breakfast menu includes egg sandwiches, Eggs Benedict, omelets, turkey bacon, chicken apple sausage, oatmeal and yogurt.

My only complaint is that Fresh First is not open for dinner or at all on Sundays. Logistics: The valet from Bimini Boatyard (close to the Renaissance Hotel) parks cars for Fresh First. Parking is also available in the adjacent garage; with a receipt from Fresh First, the charge will be waived. This cafe is tucked away, out of sight from 17th Street, but look for Bimini Boatyard.




Tags: Gluten-free restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, organic restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, restaurants on 17th Street Causeway, raw foods in Fort Lauderdale

Saturday, February 1, 2014

No pizza but it's FAST Italian food??? ... it's italio!

italio 
Modern Italian Kitchen
2151 N. Federal Hwy
Fort Lauderdale 33305
Lunch, dinner. Catering available


By Jane Feehan 

It’s fast Italian food they say. The words fast and Italian are seldom found in the same sentence unless pizza is involved so I entered recent newcomer to Fort Lauderdale’s fast food scene, italio, a skeptic.

I left the place sold on its concept.

OK, so one won’t find Nana’s Sunday gravy here or classics such as lasagna, ravioli or gnocchi, but if you’re in the mood for something tasty, Italian, inexpensive and totally casual, it’s here. They also serve wine and beer.

There's spaghetti—whole wheat or white flour—with a choice of seven hot (alfredo, pomodoro, spicy prima rosa) or cold sauces (fresh basil, sun-dried tomato, roasted red pepper, arrabbiata). Spicy prima rosa was flavorful and light on the oil.  italio also offers toppings that morph the pasta bowls into complete entrées with a choice of vegetables, meatballs, sausage, steak, shrimp or chicken.

They’ll put together a salad with a variety of veggies and toss it on the spot with a dressing. Very fresh.  Italio
One of the dining areas;
another sits out of sight of counter
also makes an Italian wrap (piadina) with the same mix and match of toppings they serve with the pasta. Dessert is limited to cannoli chips but it’s enough.

Fill out the meal with a breadstick, soup or calamari and it’s starting to taste like an Italian Sunday meal at someone’s house, if not Nana’s.

The same menu is available lunch and dinner; italio is doing a brisk business during both meal times. A children's menu offers the same choices but at reduced prices. With a dining room set apart from the serving counter, italio may not feel like a fast food joint. 

Currently, there are three italio restaurants in Florida—Winter Park, Fort Lauderdale, Boca—and one in Orland Park, IL; others are planned for Coconut Creek,  Orlando, and Tampa. The Fort Lauderdale store sits across Federal Highway from Whole Foods Market with easy parking in the rear and an outdoor patio in front. 

Thumbs up for italio. Buon appetito! 

Tags: Fast Italian food in Fort Lauderdale, fast Italian food in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale restaurants, party catering