2 stars for Rossopomodoro's Italian eats in Fort Lauderdale

Rossopomodoro, a major Italian fast-casual chain, wants a bigger slice of the U.S. culinary market. The branch that brother-and-sister franchisers Andrea and Francesca Neri opened two months ago in downtown Fort Lauderdale is the third on this side of the Atlantic and the second in Florida. The Neris also opened the first, in Naples — a fitting American start for the 165-location chain, which was founded 15 years ago in Naples, Italy. (The second U.S. outlet, from another franchiser, is a pizza-only operation in Mario Batali’s Eataly in Manhattan.)

Just about everything here, including the handcrafted, oak-burning oven, the gold tile accents and most of the furniture, is imported from Italy. The same goes for ingredients like Caputo flour, balsamic vinegar, canned tomatoes and mozzarella di Bufala. The Neris’ mother, Liliana, who left Rome to join her children in Florida, divides her time between the Naples and Fort Lauderdale restaurants making some of the pasta, usually gnocchi, scialatielli and tagliatelle.

Ambience: While it has a Las Olas address, Rossopomodoro (“red tomato”) isn’t easy to find on a side street just off the boulevard (nearly catty-corner from Yolo). Decorated in red with gold accents, the space is more enticing than you’d expect from a chain, plus there’s a small wine bar and a few outdoor tables. Servers are young and friendly, and there’s a decent wine list, primarily Italian.

What Worked

  • Garlic-scented, tomato broth in a generous bowl of mussels
  • Neapolitan-style pizza with thin, golden brown crusts that emerge light and smoky from the 500-degree oven
  • Hearty Fru Fru pizza with ricotta, Neapolitan salami, prosciutto de Parma and arugula
  • Lasagna pizza with sliced meatballs, lots of ricotta, mozzarella and fresh basil
  • Delicious scialatielli pasta with eggplant, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, top-notch Caciocavello cheese and fresh basil
  • Moist and flaky sautéed cod with black olives, capers and cherry tomatoes
  • Grilled chicken with eggplant, zucchini and red peppers in a balsamic glaze
  • Calde calde – fried donuts made with pizza dough rolled in sugar and topped with Nutella


What Didn’t Work

  • A starter billed as fried calamari that brought more fried zucchini than squid
  • Tough, flavorless & pricy grilled New York strip steak with artichokes, arugula and shaved Parmesan
  • Ovecooked veal scaloppine



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