Visiting a new restaurant for the first time is a little like a blind date. You're full of expectations, but fear you'll be disappointed. All the more gratifying, then, when you encounter a pleasant surprise like Star Bistro, a small, family-run restaurant in Cooper City. Sweet and charming, it's owned by chef Rod Aracki, who is striking out on his own after decades in other kitchens, first in his native Serbia, then in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and, in South Florida at Café Maxx, East City Grill, the Down Under, Martha's and The Forge.
At Star Bistro, open since November, he's joined in the kitchen by daughter Maja and her husband, Goran. His sons Steven and Patrick wait tables with their neighbor Brian and friend Jason, who watches over your water glasses intently - if only most romances had this much commitment. You've got to like this young staff – well-trained, accommodating and so earnest. Our waiter said he was learning about wine, but he knew enough to steer us to a delightful, dry South African Graham Beck Brut rosé for $33 ("the same beverage with which Nelson Mandela toasted his inauguration in 1994" and Barack Obama his election in 2008, according to the label). The wine list features about 30 mostly boutique labels with helpful descriptions and five by the glass for $7-$9. The menu features creative renditions of American dishes with Asian and European influences. Just about everything is made here, from the freshly baked, tomato-studded focaccia to the yuzu-flavored cheesecake.
Ambience: The cheery storefront has six comfy, oversize booths, bare, dark wood tables and a colorful, circus-style mural left from its previous incarnation as Mustard Seed Bistro.
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