Make every weekend epic with our free Weekender newsletter. Sign up today!

Classy, with a chance of (dry) meatballs

Background: Angelo's Station House and Grille is an Italian reimagining of the previous Station House seafood restaurant in the Cove Shopping Plaza at Deerfield Beach. This incarnation of the restaurant, which opened in December, boasts a cast of longtime restaurateurs, including the namesake chef Angelo Morinelli, formerly of Boca Raton restaurants Cucina D'Angelo and Tanzy; David Greenfield, manager at the former Jackson Steakhouse on Las Olas Boulevard; and co-owners Silvio and Marianne Trentalange, who have owned more than a dozen restaurants in the United States and Mexico.

Ambience: The restaurant reminds me of a visit to Portland, Maine, due to the yellow wood panel exterior, illuminated stained glass with lobster motifs and the classy yet relaxed atmosphere. A series of ballads — about half in Italian — are piped into the dining room and are hard to ignore, but we got into the classical, romantic mood Angelo's is going for. The restaurant might feel out of place on trendy Las Olas Boulevard or Ocean Drive, but it's a great fit for the seaside vibe in this part of Deerfield Beach.

The staff members are professional but not stuffy or rehearsed. They immediately got on our good side by bringing a large plate of fresh, airy bread with delicious bruschetta on top — one of the nicer complimentary appetizers you're likely to encounter these days.

Starters: For a fun start, try Pavio's salad ($9), a plump tower composed of slices of beefsteak tomato, fresh mozzarella and slices of oranges in between. If you're a conservative diner, you may not love it, but this salad intrigued our palates. You'll also want to go for grilled gamberoni ($12), three jumbo shrimp on a bed of sauteed spinach and a sweet, yet just-punchy-enough pomegranate glaze. We had a lukewarm reaction to the meatball-and-sausage appetizer ($9), with a meatball that was too dry, but a pleasant sausage and delicious sauteed onions and peppers in a semisweet red sauce.

Entree excellence: The star of the meal was a gargantuan, 2-pound grilled lobster oreganato ($40), topped with garlic, breadcrumbs, oregano and herbs — all served with a garlic-butter sauce, two potato croquettes and green beans. Although we did our usual pause at the dreaded "market price" on the menu, we found $40 to be very reasonable for the enormous and perfectly prepared crustacean. Chicken rollatini ($18.50), stuffed with prosciutto, fontina cheese, spinach and pimentos, was another hit with nice, moist chicken breast and an indulgent blend of stuffing.

The veal chop Toscana ($33.95) had a nice char and a likable mushroom sauce, but — like the meatball — it was dry. A large bowl of gnocchi "a la mamma" ($15.59) had a thin, sweet plum tomato sauce and a decent mozzarella spread. Risotto ($18.99) had spot-on aromas of garlic and mushrooms, but the consistency lacked the creaminess we adore.

Sweet! The classic Italian desserts were such a marvel at Angelo's, that we'd half devoured them before I abruptly remembered to take notes. It's hard to pick a favorite here. Tiramisu ($8) is exquisite, with an appealing fluffiness and a nice balance between the sweetness and the liqueur. Tartufo ($8) was spot on, with a rich chocolate exterior, perfect coldness and swirls of chocolate sauce and cinnamon spread around the plate. Zabaglione ($8) was rich, again with the right hit of liqueur to give it the perfect amount of zing. If you're adventurous, try Angelo's rosemary-and-olive-oil gelato. While we were skeptical, the concoction won us over with its compelling blend of flavors.

Service: We enjoyed the staff's demeanor and sincere recommendations, but we found their pace to be a bit leisurely. They took too long to refill our drink orders, even though the dining room wasn't busy. However, they hit their marks in all other aspects.

1544 SE Third Court, Deerfield Beach


Cuisine: Italian

Cost: Expensive

Hours: 4 p.m.-10 p.m. daily

Reservations: Recommended

Bar: Full service

Sound level: Moderate

Outside smoking: No

For kids: Highchairs

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

Copyright © 2018, South Florida