Café Vico

 

A Fort Lauderdale classic expands to bring more cozy, classic Italian to the masses...

ravioli
Ravioli Trio $28.95 Cafe Vico, 1125 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale.
 

Rochelle Koff

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.

What Worked

  • 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

 

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