The concept sounded almost revolutionary. Angelo Elia, chef-owner of the divine Casa D'Angelo, opening a tapas-pizza place? It's the best restaurant news we've had in a year of closings and disappointments. After eight years of meticulous planning and studious trips to Italy, Elia opened D'Angelo last month on U.S. 1, about four miles north of his beloved Italian restaurant. Fans needn't worry – Elia isn't leaving the kitchen at Casa D'Angelo. But now we don't have to wait for a special occasion to savor his masterful cooking. Aside from a few cheese and meat boards, everything at D'Angelo is $5 to $14.
Don't expect shortcuts from this passionate chef, who will pay more than $2,000 a pound for white truffles to shave onto humble risotto. He speaks with pride about his cooking, whether it's a $46 veal chop or $11 calzone. Expect quality ingredients and good, friendly service at Elia's hippest restaurant yet. Elia, who was born in Sesto Fiorentino, just outside Florence, brought back three Italian cooks to work the pizza station. He also imports flour and yeast and uses filtered water for his pizza crusts. Elia's biggest issue is parking. The 105-seat restaurant (35 on the patio) has a tiny lot, so go for the complimentary valet or you'll have to park down the street. D'Angelo is already packed and doesn't take reservations, so arrive early or plan to sip one of the fine Italian wines at the bar.
Ambiance: D'Angelo is deceptively plain on the outside, but the long narrow dining room is sleek and urban, done in understated hues of black, tan and chocolate with splashes of color from vases filled with lemons and oranges. Videos about Italian cooking and wine quietly play on two TVs, with sports featured in the wine bar area. But nothing upstages the food, which is wonderful.
Chef Angelo Elia, owner of Casa D'Angelo in Fort Lauderdale, shows off his Angelo Pizza with buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, argula and shaved reggiano and his Capricciosa Pizza with artichokes, olives, mozzarella and mushrooms.