Kitchenetta

 

3 stars for rustic, hip Italian in Ft Lauderdale

Kitchenetta

Rochelle Koff

Many of the rustic dishes chef-owner Vincent Foti prepares at Kitchenetta are from recipes handed down by his Sicilian great-grandmother, but you would hardly call his Fort Lauderdale restaurant Old World. Brooklyn-born Foti and his wife, Maria, whose family is from Salerno, opened Kitchenetta in 2004. He had experience in just about every aspect of the restaurant business, and sleek Kitchenetta reflects his years in hip New York and Los Angeles markets. Each dish is offered in both individual and family sizes, and while most are $20 and up, even most solo portions are large. A tip: You'll certainly want to split a pasta, and two can easily share a starter and entree. Bring four or more to share family-size dishes.

Along with an extensive menu, in English and Italian, there are a dozen or so nightly specials explained by servers with good memories and varying degrees of patience. One seemed annoyed with our questions, but another was patient and helpful.
The wine list (Italian and American plus champagne) ranges from a $28 Villa Rogole Chianti to a $225 Perrier Jouet Flower Brut with most bottles under $50. At least 30 are offered by the glass.

Ambience: Stainless-steel tables, concrete floors and exposed ceilings create an industrial look that's brightened by playful shades of tangerine and lime. While easy to miss on U.S. 1, the place is usually packed and gets loud, so it can be hard to have a conversation. To avoid the high-decibel din, arrive early or dine on the patio.

What Worked

  • Light, warm rounds of flatbread straight from the wood-burning oven - wonderfully charred puffs finished with rosemary and olive oil
  • Sweet, rich burrata cheese, made on premises & served atop slices of juicy watermelon and greens
  • Fresh mozzarella plated with ultra-thin slices of grilled eggplant, squash and tomato
  • An appetizer special of sardines - three large, tasty, grilled fish (with bones), served with greens and lemon
  • Risotto balls - a fried treat of perfectly cooked rice, mozzarella, peas, onion and prosciutto with a crisp coating of house-made breadcrumbs
  • Soul-satisfying chicken cacciatore - a rustic classic made with Bell & Evans chicken in a terrific tomato sauce with small potatoes, red, yellow and green bell peppers, red onions and portobello and cremini mushrooms
  • An elegant Cornish hen stuffed with risotto, raisins, lemon zest and onions
  • A surprisingly large portion of gnocchi - light potato dumplings served with a quarter-pound of chopped Maine lobster in a mellow San Marzano tomato sauce with a little white wine
  • Perfectly cooked, moist and tender grilled swordfish
  • House-made tiramisu
  • A creamy, traditional ricotta cheesecake
  • A special of zabaglione mixed with strawberries and blueberries

 

What Didn’t Work

  • Plump meatballs lacking flavor
  • Slightly oily thinly sliced cod

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