3 stars for Italian eats at Tuscan Grill on Las Olas

South Florida restaurants are wonderfully diverse, but sometimes we crave a soul-satisfying bowl of silken pasta or fat meatballs. It’s even better when we can savor aromatic sauces by candlelight, feel pampered by attentive servers and share good times in a charming setting like Tuscan Grill on Las Olas. Open seven years, Tuscan Grill was once best-known for its singing chef, Rino Balzano. Silvio Crespo is now in charge of the kitchen, but restaurateur Bob Woltin remains the owner (he also has Johnny V down the street). Gabriel Salas, general manager and wine director, has also been here since day one, and still greets patrons with: “Welcome home.”

Ambience: The long, narrow restaurant has a sophisticated urban decor warmed by lots of blond wood and hardwood floors. Along with a handful of tables just outside the door, the Grill has added 60 seats in the adjacent patio used by Stork’s Bakery before it moved.

What Worked

  • A complimentary mini loaf of warm, crusty, Italian bread topped with Parmesan and lots of garlic butter
  • Complimentary caponata with a sweet-sour tang
  • 27 wines by the glass
  • Light & crisp fried calamari served atop arugula with a hot cherry pepper sauce for dipping
  • Polpettone – one big, beefy meatball in a grandmotherly tomato sauce with tufts of ricotta and roasted peppers
  • Slightly spicy Italian sausage paired with pleasantly pungent broccoli rabe
  • A large Caesar salad tossed in a respectable dressing with a hint of anchovies and lots of shaved Parmigiana
  • Risotto ai quattro formaggi – nut-grain arborio stirred to a creamy richness with mascarpone, stracchino, Parmigiana and pecorino Romano
  • Juicy, grilled lollipop lamb chops
  • Large discs of house-made ravioli filled with lush short-rib meat in a decadent porcini mushroom-white truffle sauce
  • Terrific branzino – Mediterranean fish butterflied, grilled and simply seasoned with rosemary, garlic and oil
  • Garlic-scented sautéed spinach
  • A large, crisp, potato croquette
  • Lush sea bass in a cherry tomato sauce
  • Spaghetti integrali al pomodoro fresco – whole wheat pasta tossed in a bright tomato sauce with a hint of basil and a dusting of Parmigiana
  • House-made tiramisu with sliced strawberries
  • Bosc pears baked in a chianti wine reduction and topped off with cinnamon