A Fort Lauderdale classic expands to bring more cozy, classic Italian to the masses...
1125 N. Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale
Hours: Lunch 11:30am-3pm Monday-Friday, dinner 5:30-10pm Sunday-Thursday and 5:30-11pm Friday-Saturday
Prices: Appetizers $10.95-$13.95, pasta $18.95-$25.95, entrees $21.95-$26.95, desserts $4.95-$8.95
FYI: Full bar; corkage $20. Free parking. AX, DN, DS, MC, VS.
When restaurants become popular, they often have to turn away potential customers. Café Vico has another solution: It keeps expanding to keep pace with its growing fan base. Owner Marco Vico Rodrigues has expanded four times since the restaurant opened in Fort Lauderdale in 1997 as a 26-seat storefront. It's now a collection of four small dining rooms that can accommodate 110, with about two-dozen seats outside to handle an overflow crowd. Since my last visit five years ago, Café Vico has also added lunch and a full bar, but the charm of the cozy Italian restaurant hasn't diminished. Brazilian-born Rodrigues -- Vico or Marco Vico to his regulars -- is nearly always at the restaurant, greeting customers and stopping at tables to make patrons feel welcome.
Servers bring complimentary bruschetta and house-made bread with garlic-spiked olive oil for dipping. You can request a nifty glass aerator set on a marble platform to soften the tannins in red wines. The moderately priced list has decent choices under $30, like our $29 Prosecco Mionetto.
Ambience: Candles and white-and-bright-yellow tablecloths grace the tables, black-and-white celebrity photos line the walls and most rooms are decorated with knickknacks. A fresco-like painting of puffy clouds floating in a bright blue sky is inset into the ceiling in three rooms.
- Lightly breaded but slightly chewy fried calamari with a zesty tomato sauce
- Potato leek soup with heavy cream, sweet onions and a hint of garlic
- Silky house-made pasta
- A special of manicotti stuffed with chicken, portobellos, mascarpone and roasted peppers
- Rich fettuccini alla carbonara in a creamy sauce with pancetta, onions and Parmesan
- Chicken piccata sautéed with lemon, white wine, capers, basil and artichoke hearts
- Eggplant Parmesan smothered in tomato sauce and mozzarella and served with tufts of sweet potato and fresh broccoli
- Spaghetti and plump meatballs made with ground veal, pork sausage and ground beef and cooked in tomato sauce or a madeiera demi-glace and mixed mushrooms
- Off-menu favorites like osso buco, not listed on the menu
- House-made réme brulée, carrot cake, chocolate mousse, chocolate brownie "bash," apple torte and light, luscious tiramisu
- 3.5 stars for L'echon Brasserie's Pubbelly-style take on French fare
- 3 stars for NIU Kitchen's modern accent on Spanish tapas
- 3 stars for Touche's expert execution of Italian-American favorites
- 3.5 stars for rock-solid Oolite in Miami Beach
- 3 stars for Prime Fish's South Beach swagger
- 3.5 stars for The Forge's next generation of excellence in Miami Beach
- 3 stars for Taperia Raca's fresh take on classic tapas in Miami
- 3 stars for Basil Park's nourishing and satisfying intact cuisine
- 3.5 stars for unorthodox Josh's Deli in Surfside
- 3 stars for Orange Blossom, a Miami Beach restaurant on the right track