When restaurants become popular, they often have to turn away potential customers. Café Vico has another solution: It keeps expanding to keep pace with its growing fan base. Owner Marco Vico Rodrigues has expanded four times since the restaurant opened in Fort Lauderdale in 1997 as a 26-seat storefront. It's now a collection of four small dining rooms that can accommodate 110, with about two-dozen seats outside to handle an overflow crowd. Since my last visit five years ago, Café Vico has also added lunch and a full bar, but the charm of the cozy Italian restaurant hasn't diminished. Brazilian-born Rodrigues -- Vico or Marco Vico to his regulars -- is nearly always at the restaurant, greeting customers and stopping at tables to make patrons feel welcome.
Servers bring complimentary bruschetta and house-made bread with garlic-spiked olive oil for dipping. You can request a nifty glass aerator set on a marble platform to soften the tannins in red wines. The moderately priced list has decent choices under $30, like our $29 Prosecco Mionetto.
Ambience: Candles and white-and-bright-yellow tablecloths grace the tables, black-and-white celebrity photos line the walls and most rooms are decorated with knickknacks. A fresco-like painting of puffy clouds floating in a bright blue sky is inset into the ceiling in three rooms.
Ravioli Trio $28.95 Cafe Vico, 1125 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale.