Do you love Italian food? We do too, and that's why we dedicate ourselves to finding the best places to enjoy Italian cuisine in Fort Lauderdale. We've diligently scouted out the top eateries, and we've listened to our readers and their reviews of Fort Lauderdale restaurants. We share the places that get great buzz, like Casa D'Angelo, and we showcase the ones that have proven themselves over time. 3030 Ocean and 15th Street Fisheries are local landmarks that are tops on any locals list. Café Vico is one local eatery that has been recognized locally and nationally for its family-owned and operated menu and service. And while it may not be known for its architecture or design, Bongusto Ristorante is known for its delicious food and time-honored entrees and reputation. And for a unique experience with a bit of a twist, Noodles Panini on the beautiful Las Olas Boulevard offers a variety of sandwiches, pastas and salads in a beautiful setting. Primavera is known for its Northern Italian cuisine in an elegant setting. And don't forget Catfish Dewey's. This casual and fun restaurant where patrons wait in line then sit down and roll up there sleeves and dig in. When the craving hits, we'll make sure you get your fix!
10 Catfish Deweys
Catfish Deweys is a notable eatery in North Fort Lauderdale and the place that serious seafood lovers flock to, stand in line to wait for a table, sit shoulder to shoulder and eat to their heart's content. Family-owned since 1984, this is one of those seafood restaurants that isn't fancy, has no mood lighting and no dress code, and that works just fine because the food is to die for and everyone knows it. With appetizers like Gator Tail Bites, Half Pound of Frog Legs, Caribbean Style Conch Fritters, Southern Fried Pickles and Caribbean Style Conch Fritters, just to name a few, it's obvious this place is authentic southern cooking, and the pros when it comes to southern delicacies. ((954) 566-5333)
9 Bistro Mezzaluna
Trendy and festive best describe this Italian restaurant, which has plentiful portions that are creatively presented. Not the place for a quiet, intimate dinner, this bistro is known for its upbeat late-night crowd. If you like a party atmosphere and you want the best veal chop in the city, this is your place. Voted the "best chop" several years running, this dish is huge, tender, and flavorful. Served with roast garlic and wine reduction along with fantastic mashed potatoes and vegetables. This is a meal fit for a king or queen. Upscale casual attire. Reservations accepted only for parties of six or more. (954-522-6620)
8 Noodles Panini
For casual cafe-style dining, try Las Olas's Noodles Panini. At this eatery, you can order up tasty sandwiches, pasta and salads. Try the ciabatta bread stuffed with prosciutto, arugula, Reggiano and artichoke. Of course, the place is best known for its panini (sandwiches), and there are plenty of tasty ones from which to choose: tuna packed in olive oil and served on multi-grain, spit-roasted beef and the famous "Number 16" which is Aunt Marion's special meatballs and Fontina cheese served on fresh filone. The street-side dining area, adorned by greenery and small twinkling lights, makes for a festively romantic atmosphere. Reservations suggested. (954-462-1514)
For fine Italian dining, don't miss Primavera, where homemade pastas and fresh seafood is served for the most discriminating diner. Focusing on Northern Italian cuisine, options include grilled veal chop with tomato confit, asparagus, and saffron risotto, and grilled rockfish with basmati rice pilaf. The popular house specialty is a stew-like concoction of various seafood, tomato, wine and garlic, served sizzling in a cast iron pan. Enjoy your meal surrounded by elegant decor, flowers, and greenery. Don't leave without trying one of the award-winning desserts, such as the fantastic chocolate mousse-stuffed banana in phyllo. Reservations recommended. Lunch times may vary seasonally. (954-564-6363)
6 Café Martorano
For Fort Lauderdale's finest Italian dining, you can't miss Café Martorano, where classic pastas, seafood dishes, and meat entrées are served in hearty portions to an obviously upscale clientele. Even the meatballs have been voted best in the world! The dining room is so traditional that it will feel as if you have just stepped into Florence, Italy, and regular patrons aren't afraid to show off the glitz their riches allow them to purchase. Add an impressive wine list and great classic desserts such as tiramisu and spumoni, and you have a satisfying meal that evokes another time and place. (954-561-2554)
5 Cafe Vico
Cafe Vico is a family-owned and operated local treasure and is known for its authentic Italian cuisine. This restaurant is considered one of top five Best Restaurants in South Florida and top thousand best Italian in the country. This restaurant's interior is dark wood and illuminated by candlelight, offering a romantic dining atmosphere and compensating for the shopping strip location. Outdoor tables are also available, if you wish to dine under the stars. Favorite dishes include the delectable gnocchi and lobster ravioli, and the menu offers crowd-pleasing desserts and coffees. Call to plan for private parties, take out and catering. (954-565-9681)
4 Blue Moon Fish Company
This favorite and unique waterside restaurant offers Caribbean-inspired seafood dishes in a festive environment, with panoramic views of the Intercoastal Waterway from the elegant Art Deco dining room or from the breezy outdoor dock. The menu offers true Floridian favors with Louisiana, Cajun infusion and combining influences from both Chef Owners, Bryce Statham and Baron Skorish. Upscale dishes include baked prosciutto wrapped brie, shiitake mushroom crusted halibut with wilted Swiss chard, grilled salmon and crab stuffed portobello, or lump crab and corn roasted grouper. Desserts are extravagant. Try the Icky Sticky Caramel Tart with Chunky Monkey ice cream. Reservations requested.
3 15th Street Fisheries
Voted Best Waterfront Restaurant in South Florida in a 2011 local media poll, 15th Street Fisheries has rustic charm and waterfront views that make this Lauderdale Marina seafood house a popular destination. Take advantage of its unique location in this most famous nautical landmark to arrive in a car or a boat. There is no better way to enjoy this restaurant's many choices of fabulous seafood, drink specials, and their $5 Happy Hour menu, which includes chicken wings, calamarie, mini burgers and conch fritters, than in its ideal location right on the waterway near the amazing 17th Street Causeway drawbridge and Port Everglades inlet to the Atlantic Ocean. (954-763-2777)
2 Casa D'Angelo
Casa D'Angelo is a traditional Italian restaurant and serves classic dishes served in a formal and elegant setting. Locals rave of this place and it is a good place for toasting the important moments in life. Chef Angelo Elia created the restaurant's menu with recipes handed down to me from generations of passionate Italian cooks. Pasta, seafood, veal, and beef dishes are complemented by rich sauces, the wine list is extensive and well chosen, the dining room is elegant, and the service is extraordinary. Finish with cappuccino and creamy, bold tiramisu for the perfect celebratory meal. Reservations recommended. Business attire. (954-564-1234)
1 3030 Ocean
Residing at the beautiful Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa, 3030 Ocean is a clear departure from the stereotypical seafood room, as this restaurant's interior is cloaked in rich colors and classy dark woods. The menu changes frequently and emphasizes organic ingredients. Starters such as watermelon and French feta salad complement the raw bar, and main course offerings might include grilled pompano on wild arugula salad with passion fruit vinaigrette or tempura tuna with sweet rice, pickled cucumber and sesame chili sauce. The Goombay Smash (rum, banana liqueur, orange and pineapple juices), Frozen Oreo Mudslide (Kahlua, vanilla vodka, Bailey's, Oreos and cream), and Blackberry Mojito highlight the cocktail menu. Rarely is there such an exquisite setting with such delectable fare. (954-765-3030, 954-525-4000)
About Dale Mack
Dale Mack has been involved in Fort Lauderdale tourism and promotions for over twenty years. Working for Travelhost Magazine in Dallas, Texas, he was especially drawn to the edition published by the Fort Lauderdale Associate Publisher; the city's beauty, its energy and the fun-in-the-sun atmosphere. When an opportunity came to relocate to Fort Lauderdale by another company, Dale accepted. He has spent the last eight years discovering "the Venice of America" and South Florida itself.
Dale is the author of three children's books and numerous articles. He has also worked as a copywriter for the South Florida real estate market.
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