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New chef highlights Sorrisi makeover

 The casino's signature restaurant right next door is tied to America's greatest sports franchise, so you can understand why chef and sports fan Jacob Perego goes for the metaphor in explaining how things should be different at Sorrisi.

 "It was like they were the Yankees and we were the Mets," he says, motioning toward NYY Steak at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek. "I want it to be more like we're the Red Sox and they're the Yankees." In other words, two titans battling it out.

Perego rolled out some of the changes Wednesday night to some foodies, and to Mrs. Sortal and I as Seminole Coconut Creek tries to get the word out. Sorrisi, the Italian restaurant that opened at the same time as NYY Steak -- during the casino's $150 million makeover in February 2012 -- was an underperformer, and diners who commented on web sites such as Yelp eviscerated it.

 So they brought in Perego, who is from New Orleans (never a bad thing). His goal is to make it upscale Italian. He called the former place "More of a Carrabba's, while we're more of a [someplace I had never heard of]." I got the idea, even though as a cheap Midwesterner, I'm bad with names of big-time restaurants -- and beside the point, I loove Carrabba's.

Anyway, he's talking big upgrade. And while I am not a food expert, I can share the general idea.

  The press release notes Perego grew up on the water, "and has been hunting and fishing since he was a toddler. He says that his culinary upbringing was developed, quite literally, from farm to table."

  Perego, 32, has served as executive chef at Tanzy Italian in Boca Raton, chef at Evo Italian in Tequesta, lead line chef at Taboo on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, and cook at the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Management from the Florida Culinary Institute. He also has also lived in St. Thomas and worked for Havana Blue, which specializes in Pacific Rim Asian fusion, and is said to be the No. 1 grossing restaurant in the Caribbean.

But you guys care about the food. So I'm deferring to the press release here:

Noteworthy appetizers on the new menu include Il Carciofo Alla Romana, warm Roman artichoke, oreganatta crumbs, parmesan reggiano ($12); Calamari Arabiatta, fried calamari, arabiatta sauce, crispy zucchini nest ($12) and a house made Burrata Insalata, black pepper and truffle-infused, teardrop tomato, red onion, arugula ($14).  Pastas include a Lasagna Bolognese with veal, pork, beef, ricotta, mozzarella and san marzano tomato sauce ($21) and Linguine Gamberetti with jumbo gulf shrimp, lemon, white wine, garlic, butter, bruschetta.

A specialty of the house is the Funghi Con Agnello, porcini encrusted lamb rack, blackberry port wine drizzle, parmesan risotto ($38).  Other entrees include Snapper Française, egg battered, pan seared, light lemon butter ($28).  Entrees such as chicken, veal chops, filets and short ribs are also available.  Wood stone pizzas include a Margherita Da Napoli Pizza, sliced tomato, basil, housemade mozzarella ($12); Prosciutto Con Arugula Pizza, san marzano tomato sauce, prosciutto, mozzarella, arugula ($16) and Funghi Pizza, forest mushrooms, roasted garlic, parmesan reggiano, cream sauce ($14).  Dessert selections include Chocolate Semi Fredo, brownie, chocolate mousse, hazelnut crunch, crème anglaise, nutella ($9); house made Cannoli Siciliana with sweet ricotta (&+$9) and  Crème Brulee, trio of orange, chocolate, vanilla custards, caramelized sugar ($9).

 Perego notes that the prices are an increase from before because everything will be fresh and made-from-scratch, as he pointed to a Biscotti served with coffee. ("We don't just reach into a bag that says 'Biscotti' and grab one," he said.)

And while I'm not a food critic, I know my desserts. And I say the Chocolate Semi Fredo competes with NYY Steak's Cookies and Cream, which is pretty damned good. So, it's on.

Reservations for Sorrisi are recommended and can be made by calling 954-935-6689.

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