Calypso Restaurant & Raw Bar Serves Bajan Fare on Island Time

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Photo by Candace West
Calypso Restaurant & Raw Bar owners Lora and Chuck Ternosky.
If you pull up to Calypso Restaurant & Raw Bar on a Saturday evening, the parking lot will be empty. The lights will be off. And there will be no one waiting for a table.

This is not a bad sign, however. The longtime Pompano Beach restaurant hasn't held weekend hours for close to a decade. It doesn't matter if it's in or out of season. Calypso is open Monday through Friday only.

Owners Chuck and Lora Ternosky like it that way. After 25 years in business, the restaurant has garnered such a devout local following that they don't need to cash in on a weekend swell. And judging by the five-star ratings on Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google, and Urban Spoon, patrons like it that way too.

See also: Calypso Restaurant & Raw Bar (Photos)

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Marc Falsetto Continues His Himmarshee Takeover With Tacocraft

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All photos by CandaceWest.com
Tacocraft owner and cofounder of JEY Hospitality Marc Falsetto, and the restaurant's crispy shredded pork taco.
Marc Falsetto is a busy man these days. In January, his newest restaurant, Tacocraft Taqueria & Tequila Bar, opened its doors on the east end of Himmarshee Street. If all goes as planned, the restaurateur and cofounder of JEY Hospitality Group says he'll be reigning over Fort Lauderdale's historic downtown district soon enough.

Sure, it's a bold statement to make, but with the bravado of a man with several successful concepts under his belt, and a wall full of foodie awards to match, Falsetto is confident he can make it happen.

"My restaurants don't fail," says Falsetto. "I take cursed spaces, and I make them work. It's sort of become my thing. And that's how I'm rebranding Himmarshee."

See also: Tacocraft Taqueria & Tequila Bar in Fort Lauderdale (Photos)

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Valentino Serves Elevated Italian Fare: Old-World Authenticity With a Modern Flair

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Photo by Candace West
Valentino owner and chef Giovanni Rocchio.
Fort Lauderdale's Valentino's most striking attribute, aside from chef-owner Giovanni Rocchio's impressive menu of homemade pastas and high-end victuals, is its kitchen. Open to the full view of the dining room like a stage to a rapt audience, the entire evening unfolds like a silent movie.

The performance begins well before dinner, however, with the routine of daily prep: the click and flare of a gas burner, and just like that the scent of melting chocolate and sautéed mushrooms (ingredients for two of the evening's specials) fills the air.

Here, refined palates can take refuge. The restaurant specializes in true culinary ambition. Rocchio isn't just some self-important chef with an impressive résumé; he's a culinary savant with a passion that runs so hot, it's helped to propel his Fort Lauderdale eatery into a class of its own.

See also: East Meets West At 545 Banh Mi Cafe in Davie

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East Meets West at 545 Bánh Mì Café With French-Inspired Vietnamese Sandwiches

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All photos by Candace West
The 545 Banh Mi Cafe family.
The building blocks of the sandwich are fairly basic and universal: bread, mayo, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and meat.

If this is your regular repertoire, you probably haven't had a bánh mì. And if you consider yourself a sandwich connoisseur, you'll want to try the ones coming from 545° Bánh Mì Café, a new Vietnamese eatery in Davie.

For a long time, Viet dining options have been scarce in South Florida. We have establishments like Hollywood's Pho VI, Saigon City in Lauderdale Lakes, or Basilik Vietnamese Grill in Fort Lauderdale where they serve traditional Vietnamese fare: steaming bowls of pho; fried rice topped with salty, fermented fish; and sticky sweet rice wrapped in banana leaves and stuffed with mung bean paste, pork, and black pepper.

See also: 545 Banh Mi Cafe in Davie (Photos)

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GG's Waterfront Bar and Grill Shines With Fresh Seafood and Water Views

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Photo by Candace West
GG's Waterfront Bar & Grill owner Dan Serafini.
For all its uninterrupted miles of oceanfront shore and cozy Intracoastal coastline, Florida never seems to have quite enough waterfront restaurants.

You can never have too many, be they divey holes in the wall like Le Tub serving greasy, sea-inspired bar food, or a bevy of pricey, upmarket spots with all the pomp and circumstance of a Michelin-starred rating.

But not every waterside restaurant has a story like GG's Waterfront Bar and Grill, a Hollywood steak and seafood restaurant off A1A.

See also: Ten Best New Restaurants in Fort Lauderdale

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Mind Your Manors Brings Elevated American Fare to Wilton Manors

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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