What's happening in food and dining around South Florida.
Mancini Modern Italian
401 E. Las Olas Blvd., Suite 150, Fort Lauderdale, 754-200-8602, ManciniLasOlas.com
This time, restaurateur Jack Mancini — a seasoned pioneer on Las Olas — has jumped to the other end a few steps off the main drag in the former Rossopomodoro.
"I chose the new location due to it being in the epicenter of the downtown Fort Lauderdale night life. I'm embarking on my latest venture with more zeal than ever," says Mancini, who owned Mancini's for nearly a decade and M Bar, both to the east.
Alfresco tables and an indoor/outdoor bar with yellow bar stools on the sidewalk catch the eye. Inside, a 10-seat crudo/pizza bar and two communal high-top tables await. Natural elements such as reclaimed wood beams, wood floor and white Carrara marble juxtapose trendy chandeliers and LED lighting, European touches and a wood-burning oven imported from Florence — all punctuated by yellow and blue.
The contemporary Northern and Tuscan dinner menu encompasses crudos, salads, antipasti, pizza, a dozen pastas and a handful of entrees. Signatures are tuna crudo ($14), table side hand-pulled mozzarella with roasted vegetables ($15), papardelle with rabbit ragu and truffle espuma ($26) and roasted branzino with eggplant caponata ($29).
"There is an evolving trend in Italian dining providing lighter, fresher quality ingredients that speak for themselves. The presentations [here] provide a clean and simple, yet sophisticated approach to America's favorite cuisine — Italian," Mancini says.
Lunch is served weekdays and dinner Monday through Saturday, with plans to launch Sunday brunch in March.
Frank & Dino's
718 S. Federal Highway, Deerfield Beach, 954-427-4909, FrankAndDinos.com
Only a year old, this Rat Pack-themed Italian restaurant has already expanded into two spaces next door to showcase a lounge with live music Wednesday through Saturday. The renovation also added six tables and doubled the size of the bar into a square outlined in blue LED lighting, dramatically altering the overall look and feel.
"It enhances the environment by moving the entertainment into a separate space for a more relaxed dining experience," co-owner John Williams says. "Those patrons who simply want to enjoy the chef's creations now can do so in a more quiet, comfortable space. All this while not losing the wonderful entertainment we have."
The lounge and even a new martini are named after Little Mike, managing partner Carlo Vaccarezza's horse who won the country's premier turf races in 2012. Little Mike's memorabilia decorate the wood walls of the lounge, which features jazz, blues and Sinatra-style trios.
"I think Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby and that entire era blend with horse racing," Vaccarezza says.
With the extra space come extra offerings. Say cheers to the Ol' Blue Eyes martini with Absolut Berri Acai, triple sec and blue curaçao ($12) and the Breeders' Cup with Stoli Chocolate Razberi, Godiva white chocolate and raspberry puree ($14).
Several creative appetizers have debuted, including prosciutto-wrapped jumbo shrimp sauteed in Grand Marnier and orange sauce ($21), fried seaweed-wrapped oysters ($19) and pasta purses filled with mascarpone and sweet pears in gorgonzola sauce ($15, appetizer; $29, entree).
39 SE First Ave., Boca Raton, 561-465-2888, SegretoRestaurant.com
Segreto translates to secret in Italian. However, executive chef/partner Rino Vesuvio's Italian cuisine is well known, evidenced by the celebrities, such as Billy Joel and Mariah Carey, who dined at his former 25-year-old restaurant, Vesuvio's, in Pompano Beach. He even cooked for Ronald Reagan in 1978 in New York City.