4 stars for Casa D'Angelos "heavenly taste of Italy" in Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale chef Angelo Elia hit New York City in a big way last week, cooking a six-course “Christmas in the Italian Countryside” dinner at the prestigious James Beard House and making an appearance on Martha Stewart’s Sirius XM show. But once he returned to Fort Lauderdale, the talented toque was back doing what he loves: cooking at Casa D’Angelo.

Nearly 15 years after opening his celebrated venue — and five other restaurants — Elia is still in the kitchen just about every night, preparing heavenly dishes like baby Italian eggplant with prosciutto di parma and bufala mozzarella, house-made fettuccine and his personal favorite, veal chop with Gorgonzola.

Never one to rest on his reputation, Elia recently renovated and updated the Fort Lauderdale restaurant, adding a more contemporary look, an elegant wine room and a full liquor license. Given his growing empire — Casa D’Angelos in Boca Raton, Delray Beach and the Bahamas plus casual concepts in Oakland Park, Delray and, soon, Weston — we wondered if Elia’s cooking would still dazzle us the way it did when we first dined at his flagship restaurant. It did.

He is as passionate as ever about the simple, exquisite flavors of his homeland. While he grew up in Salerno and prepares some dishes from Southern Italy, his focus is on the north and the recipes he learned from his Florentine-born mother.

What Worked

  • White truffles from Alba that turn risotto into an intensely earthy and memorable $68 treat
  • To-die-for truffle-laden beef carpaccio
  • Complimentary bruschetta, herb-and-onion topped pizza, green olives and Parmigiano cheese
  • A 40-page wine list with 1,000 selections from Italy and California and 10 by the glass
  • Lightly breaded fried calamari and zucchini
  • Delightful, ultra creamy burrata cheese set atop nicely charred eggplant, roasted peppers and field greens
  • Elia’s classic big, homey meatball made with beef, pork and veal and served with Italian pork sausage, slices of eggplant, roasted peppers & a bold tomato sauce
  • Wonderfully light handmade ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta and served with a sunny tomato sauce
  • Skillfully prepared fresh snapper Livornese
  • Tender, flavorful & perfectly cooked oak-grilled New York strip plated with Vidalia onions, wild mushrooms and arugula
  • Flourless chocolate cake
  • Tiramisu
  • Tartufos
  • House-made gelato – three large scoops in a choice of a dozen flavors, from vanilla and chocolate to cinnamon and banana