Cupid has it easy at GG’s Waterfront Bar and Grill. No need to manufacture a romantic Valentine’s Day setting at this Hollywood restaurant: Lovers can snuggle under the stars, sipping champagne while savoring a stunning view of the shimmering waterway.The former Giorgio’s Grill takes advantage of its location with a row of tables along 80 feet of dock overlooking the Intracoastal, one of the loveliest vistas in South Florida, especially if you arrive at twilight to watch the sun go down and the boats drift by. A new, 50-seat dockside lounge with its own bar serves a pretty good dirty martini. Owners Dan and Lise-Anne Serafini bought Giorgio’s a year ago, but only recently changed the name. They’ve replaced the Greek-Mediterranean decor with a more sophisticated, classic look featuring dark-wood and ivory hues and black-and-white photographs of local scenes. (The place was home for four decades to storied Joe Sonken’s Gold Coast Restaurant and Lounge, a reputed underworld hangout.) The veteran restaurateurs (East Side Mario’s, Aventura; Big Tomato Grill and Market, Pembroke Pines) kept Giorgio favorites like bouillabaisse and baba ghanoush, but refocused the menu on fresh fish and grilled steak and chops. It’s not cheap, but prices are more reasonable than at many waterfront restaurants (a rib-eye is $24 and, like most entrees, includes two sides). The food may not be as memorable as the view, but it’s good, and the service is accommodating. The wine list has 54 selections, primarily from California, including 18 by the glass. (A $29 bottle of prosecco went well with our mostly seafood choices.) After nibbling on the complimentary bread and lemony hummus, we dove into a generous bowl of Prince Edward Island mussels in an aromatic sauce of white wine, garlic and fresh thyme with a splash of citrus. Also good to share: another Giorgio’s keeper, Garden of Eden flatbread, its snappy crust laden with grilled zucchini, yellow squash and red bell peppers and Kalamata olive slices, complemented by a pesto spread and a dusting of feta. The ceviche was packed with calamari, octopus, conch and mussels, but some of the seafood was chewy. Starters also include oysters, Florida stone crabs, spring rolls, crab cakes and fried calamari. The stand-out entree was a seafood risotto special that easily could have fed two – a $32 feast of a Maine lobster half, plump shrimp, pan-seared scallops and calamari with short-grain rice to soak up the sea-salty juices. The mahi-mahi was a little bland, but the pan-seared sea bass was rich and moist, set atop sautéed baby spinach and plated with roasted tomato and basil aioli. Red snapper was nicely done, pan-seared in olive oil with a little garlic and served with a citrus beurre blanc, fluffy basmati rice and baby spinach. Meat-and-potato choices include grilled center-cut pork chops that were brightened by a shiitake-cognac sauce but a little chewy. House-made desserts include crème brûlée, a Napoleon and flourless chocolate cake, but we fell in love with the ultra-creamy chocolate mousse. Lots of regulars are hooked on the daily $19.95 sunset special. There’s a three-course Valentine’s Day menu with options from $35 (stuffed Florida red snapper) to $58 (surf and turf with filet mignon and lobster tail). The Serafinis continue to fine-tune GG’s, but it’s already a place for good times, gorgeous sunsets and of course, a little romance.
If you go
Place: GG’s Waterfront Bar and Grill
Address: 606 Ocean Blvd., Hollywood
Rating:★ ★ 1/2 (Good)
Contact: 954-929-7030, www.ggswaterfront.com
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday brunch.
Prices: Starters $5-$11 (Florida stone crabs $30 or more), soups and salads $3.50-$15, entrees $19-$38, pasta $18-$30, sides $4-$5, desserts $6.50-$7, sunset pre-fix menu $19.95.
FYI: Self-parking at lunch, valet free 4-6 p.m., $3 valet 6 p.m. and Sunday brunch. Full bar; corkage $20. AX, MC, VS.