A scouting report: East Broward Italian eats
Tucked in a strip shopping center on the edge of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Corelli’s was opened by the Affrunti family after they relocated from Georgia six years ago. The recipes are Mama Corelli’s old country favorites from Sicily and Naples, and you’ll find family members in the kitchen and waiting tables. The tiny dining room doubles as a deli and shop, with little breathing room between the eight tables and a selection of wines and other Italian imports for sale. The atmosphere is bare bones, with food in the starring role. Choose from classic protein preparations like marsala, parmigiana and française and pasta dishes like lasagna, manicotti and stuffed shells. Can’t decide? Go for a Tour of Italy or Tour of Sicily combo platter. No matter what you order, portions are huge; pay the $4 sharing charge or expect to take home enough for another meal. A giant bowl of Italian wedding soup was a meal in itself with loads of tiny meatballs, chunks of chicken, spinach and pasta. The chicken marsala was among the best we’ve had, with just the right balance of marsala wine. The lasagna was also first rate, as was a huge slice of New York-style thin-crust pizza. Along with your leftovers, take home a jar of Corelli’s homemade sauce or a bottle of their vinaigrette. We can’t wait to go back.
Fort Lauderdale’s New River Pizza has a new name and a new twist. The restaurant moved across Federal Highway, changed its name and expanded its menu. There’s plenty of space for dining in a comfortable setting with black leather booths, dark wood tables and two flat-screen televisions. The many menu selections runs the gamut from salads to wraps, paninis, burgers, chicken wings, entrees, pastas and Italian favorites. The shareable Maci’s Favorite salad with mandarin oranges, Gorgonzola cheese, tomatoes, diced green apples and more in a raspberry-walnut vinaigrette offered a great mix of flavors and fresh ingredients. Pasta fagioli had a base more like a meat sauce than a broth, making chicken noodle a better soup choice. Baked ziti was another disappointment, with too much grease and not enough flavor. Pizzas are still the top draw. Ours had a fresh, thin crust and plenty of spinach, artichokes and chicken breast on top. A stromboli was also tasty but slightly overbaked. The menu could use editing, and there are kinks to work out, but the pizza and the new setting are winners.
The owners of La Vendetta Bar & Grill clearly invested heavily to remodel the old Rainbo Café, creating one of the best-looking restaurants to open on Hollywood Boulevard in years. Whether you’re hanging out at the large bar or enjoying the comfy leather chairs, the ambiance is classy and inviting. This is the kind of upscale-casual restaurant Hollywood has been lacking. We hope they work out the glitches, and we encountered several on a recent Saturday night. Our entrees took an hour reaching our table, and some were ice cold while others were overcooked. Baked gnocchi were mushy, and the meatballs had an off-putting texture. On the plus side, Chicken livornese, baked with onion, capers, olives and tomato sauce, had just the right tangy blend of flavors and came with a side of fresh pasta. Pollo mauro, with mushrooms, shallots, balsamic vinaigrette and demi-glace, and veal parmigiana were also good. We hope if we give La Vendetta a second chance we won’t be disappointed.