Mind Your Manors Brings Elevated American Fare to Wilton Manors

Categories: Review

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Photo by Candace West
Mind Your Manors owner Bobby Del Campo.
Wilton Manors might be a small town, but there are plenty of options to drink and dine. You can belly up to chowhoundish places like Rosie's, stop in swank sushi spots like Gaysha Sushi and Tee-Jay Thai, or grab a cocktail at the cornerstone of it all, neighborhood watering hole Georgie's Alibi.

But what this area really needed, according to restaurateur Bobby Del Campo, was a contemporary concept serving more elevated fare -- but without the wince-worthy price tag.

That's the ideal Del Campo was aiming for when he opened Mind Your Manors six months ago, a small eatery with the lofty goal of lifting American comfort food to a new high with a menu that spotlights, of all things, sandwiches.

See also: Vinnie's Lobster Bar In Davie Is A Hit With Locals, With Hit-And-Miss Menu

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Vinnie's Lobster Bar in Davie is a Hit With Locals, With a Hit-And-Miss Menu

Categories: Review

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All photo by Candace West.
Vinnie's Lobster Bar co-owners chef Vinnie Napolitano and Rich Donato.
It's a decidedly old-school aura at Vinnie's Lobster Bar, an Italian restaurant in Davie that's dedicated to New England's most-beloved cold-water crustacean, the lobster. The setting for this neighborhood haunt is a tiny space, no more than a dozen tables inside and out, located on the outskirts of a Target shopping center.

A family-style staff delivers classic Italian dishes to a packed house several nights a week. It's a little like you stepped into 1950s Little Italy for an evening, an informal type of trattoria where one can dine on pasta and wine, white-tablecloth style, to the din of live music.

Here, amid the suburban sprawl of big-box stores and fast-food chains, with a sprinkling of late-night bars for the nearby college crowd, proprietors Vinnie Napolitano and Rich Donato offer one of the few true sit-down establishments in the area, open for lunch and dinner.

See also: The Rusty Hook Tavern Could Help Make Pompano A Trendy Neighborhood

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Rusty Hook Tavern Could Help Make Pompano Beach the Next Trendy Neighborhood

Categories: Review

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Photo by Candace West
Co-owners of the Rusty Hook Tavern (from left) executive chef Ned Jaouhar, Kareem Lakchira, and Andy Patton.
Hotel restaurants used to exist for the sole purpose of giving guests a place to satisfy their hunger without going outside. But unless you're dining at the Four Seasons or the Taj Mahal, it's not generally where you expect to find a good meal and lively atmosphere.

The Rusty Hook Tavern at the Sands Harbor Resort and Marina in Pompano Beach is one restaurant that has flipped that script, taking the former Joe's Riverside Grill space and revamping it into a hip, waterside joint complete with a view. The idea is to offer a casual hangout -- with equally casual, affordable fare -- for locals and tourists alike.

Like the concept, the area surrounding Rusty Hook Tavern is bringing quiet change to the beachside district -- enough so that it might soon be deserving of one of those trendy neighborhood names like Victoria Park or Sailboat Bend.

See also: The Rusty Hook Tavern in Pompano Beach (Photos)

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Pronto Cafe: An Italian Seaside Eatery in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea

Categories: Review

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All photos by Candace West
Executive chef Claudio Sandri and the Pasta e Fagioli (in bread bowl).
If you were to close your eyes and imagine a neighborhood café with a touch of Italian, you'd probably conjure something a lot like Pronto Café in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. The room would be given an informal layout with a lunch-counter bar, exposed brick, weathered wood decor, and, of course, an artisan pizza oven.

Locals would be dining on the outdoor patio, where tables large and small would be occupied by couples and families as they quietly share a morning bite or noisily celebrate birthdays and special occasions. And on busy nights, friendly staff would make the rounds with heaping platters of pasta while pouring bottles of wine.

On a recent weekday night, this is a scene straight from Pronto Café, a 5-month-old establishment that sits at the entrance to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea's tourist-trap-establishment quarter. Occupying a prominent building at the corner of Commercial Boulevard and Seagrape Drive, its grand entrance is an impressive prelude to the quaint, rustic interior beyond.

See also: Closer Look: Pronto Cafe (Photos)

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La Huaca Offers Modern Peruvian Cuisine in Hollywood

Categories: Review

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Photo: Candace West
Sisters Ynes Soua and Aida Montoya, co-owners of La Huaca; the Pulpo Anticuchado appetizer.
It wouldn't be fair to say Hollywood's 2-month-old La Huaca Peruvian Cuisine is hidden; it's just a bit off the beaten path. Sitting at Harrison Street and South 20th Avenue, one block south of Hollywood Boulevard, the new Peruvian eatery is really just steps from the clustered chaos of the city's restaurant row.

The name, according to owner Ynes Sona, can be interpreted as "hidden treasure" -- a nod to the shrines found throughout the Inca territory from Ecuador to Chile believed to house spiritual beings. For her, the place is a diamond in the rough, an escape from the often-traditional approach to Peruvian cuisine.

See also: La Huaca in Hollywood (Photos)

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Chow Offers Asian-Inspired Fare With a Hit-and-Miss American-Tailored Menu

Categories: Review

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All photos by Candace West
Let's talk about sushi. Not the nigirizushi you'll get in Japan -- slices of raw fish on vinegar-infused fermented rice -- but the Western variety: rolls made with cream cheese, imitation crab, cucumber, and avocado, to suit American palates.

If you're a purist, the sushi at Fort Lauderdale's new Asian-American fusion concept, Chow, could make you cringe. But if you'd prefer to avoid the raw stuff, you just might love it. A good portion of the menu is labeled "not so sushi" -- a list of soy-paper-wrapped "redneck rolls" that offer fully cooked fare like steak, fried chicken, and pulled pork wrapped in rice.

And if you're up for it, the Challenge Roll plays Russian roulette with your taste buds: five pieces of kani crab, cucumber, and asparagus drizzled in a sweet miso sauce, with a single mystery piece that hides an extra-spicy habanero.

See also: Chow in Fort Lauderdale (Photos)

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Papa's Raw Bar: Lighthouse Point Gastropub With a Floridian Twist

Categories: Review

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All photos by CandaceWest.com
Papa's Raw Bar owner Troy Ganter.
Let New Orleans have its gumbo, Kansas City its barbecue, and Los Angeles and New York City their trend-setting concepts. Here in South Florida, we have our own enviable pedigree: Floribbean, best described as a fusion of island-inspired fare mixed with locally grown tropical fruits and fresh-caught fish. And at Papa's Raw Bar in Lighthouse Point, it's what's on the clipboard menu.

See also: Papa's Raw Bar in Lighthouse Point (Photos)

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Gabose Pocha Serves Casual Fare in South Florida's Own Koreatown

Categories: Review

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CandaceWest.com
Susan and Fred Kim, Co-Owners of Gabose Pocha.
The best-known section of University Drive in Lauderhill might be Koreatown. But drive too fast down the mile-long stretch between Commercial Boulevard and NW 44th Street and you could miss it. The area is home to just a handful of Korean barbecue restaurants and specialty markets, but it's the type of neighborhood where you can sample some of South Florida's best banchan, dine with a tabletop grill, and score a giant jar of kimchi -- all in one trip.

At the center of it all is Gabose, a 14-year-old restaurant that stands as the original landmark for this niche neighborhood and also the final foray in a series of establishments opened (and sold) by James Soonkuk Hong and Eunsuk Hong. Today, it's run by their daughter and her husband, Susan and Fred Kim.

See also: Closer Look: Gabose Pocha in Lauderhill (Photos)

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A Perfect Partnership: The Cook & the Cork Delivers Creative Comfort Fare in Coral Springs

Categories: Review

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Photo by Candace West
The Cook & the Cork co-owners Dena Lowell and Keith Blauschild.
Boy meets girl. They fall in love. They live happily ever after.

At the Cook & the Cork in Coral Springs, the tale goes a little differently. Chef meets event planner. They build a successful catering empire. They open a restaurant.

Parkland Catering owners Keith Blauschild and Dena Lowell are now partners in life as well as business. While managing staff, shuffling dishes, and filing invoices seven days a week might ruin the magic for some couples, for these two, the food business only seems to fuel their passion. They stare madly into each others' eyes as they inventory crates of tomatoes and stack boxes of noodles. Both agree that their businesses -- and the food they create -- wouldn't exist without their union.

See also: Closer Look: Cook & the Cork in Coral Springs

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Perfect Balancing Act: Thai and Sushi at Tamarind in Deerfield Beach

Categories: Review

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All photos by Candace West
Tamarind executive chef Jaruwat "Tom" Nanogkhai.
From Chiang Mai special noodle soup to spice-packed curries, Thai food is anything but simple. It's a complicated choreography of ingredients like fish sauce, dried shrimp paste, and lemongrass combined with seemingly incongruous spices such as coriander, basil, garlic, ginger, cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon. But the heart of this cuisine is about balance, a chef mastering the full spectrum of flavors and creating a single, harmonious finish.

At Tamarind Asian Grill and Sushi Bar, a long-established Thai eatery in Deerfield Beach, that balance has been achieved by owner Khruawan Russmetes. From Thailand, she first came to the U.S. in the 1970s by way of New York, opening her first restaurant soon after. Missing her native country's warmer climes, Russmetes relocated to South Florida in 1982, selling her New England establishment and opening a second, Hialeah's Thai House. It was the first of a string of Thai eateries -- one closing here, another opening there -- as far south as Miami Beach. Several, including Thai House II in North Miami Beach and Thai House South Beach, are still in operation, albeit under new ownerships.

One thing they all had in common, however, is sushi.

See also: Pizzeria Oceano's Dak Kerprich Opening Swell Pizza in Delray Beach

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