Parma tasting at Tanzy

(Tanzy / Courtesy / November 8, 2012)

I've ever seen one of the preserved manzanita trees that sit at the center of the dining room at Tanzy. And that may be why I can say Tanzy has one of the most-enchanted restaurant interiors I’ve seen in years.

It’s the perfect setting for a restaurant that sits next door to a movie theater, and I’m sure Hollywood restaurant designer Karen Hanlon had this in mind when she started layering on the fanciful elements that owner Hamid Hashemi says were meant to evoke the ancient villas in Italy's Amalfi Coast. The other night, we were sitting in orange upholstered armchairs at a table that looked like granite. The orange-and-brown floor tiles are made in Colombia but look vaguely Turkish. White trellises are suspended from the ceiling. The parma bar (more on this later) is topped off by a copper mansard. A long, communal table looks almost Elizabethan.

Everything you see at Tanzy pleases the eye. There’s a big bar at the front of the restaurant. There’s a fortlike lounge made from tree branches, and a gorgeously lit, wooden bookcase separating the dining room from the hallway. While Tanzy makes a big point of saying it has a separate entrance from the adjoining iPic Theaters, the double staircase and double set of escalators gives it away.

Now that the weather has cooled, the accordion-style doors to the patio were wide open. It’s hard to believe that busy Federal Highway sits on the other side.


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Tanzy calls itself “artisanal Italian,” and that’s nowhere more apparent than on the parma bar menu ,where cheese and salumi can be had while perusing the menu and sipping one of master mixologists Adam Seger’s kooky cocktails or a glass of wine or beer from the well-priced lists. They have Monk in the Trunk on draft, by the way. We shared the Parma Tasting ($29): prosciutto, mortadella, coppa, cheese, figs, braised escarole, caramelized shallots, and lavender-honey-grilled leeks. Nice.

Appetizers include three tender meatballs ($12) made with pork, beef and veal topped with tomato sauce and whipped ricotta and served with garlic toast for easy dipping. Grilled and chilled octopus ($13) comes with shaved fennel and pickled cucumbers in a light lemon vinaigrette. The octopus is perfect, though I wish there were just a little more to the dressing. Tuna tartare ($14) with avocado and pico de gallo was nice, but I prefer my tartare with a little more texture and a bit more bite. Tanzy salad ($6) is a very nice combination of Romaine, mesclun, red onion, roasted red pepper, Nicoise olives, fried capers and grape tomatoes with red wine vinaigrette.

For Tanzy to become a before-or-after-movie restaurant, I believe the menu is going to need a few casual tweaks. While the menu is ambitious, it’s not executed quite as tightly as so many of Boca’s fine Italian restaurants.

I ordered oven-roasted chicken breast ($26) stuffed with red bell peppers, baby spinach, toasted pine nuts and fontina cheese. It was served with purple fingerling potatoes that were a little greasy instead of crispy from their oven roast. Black grouper ($31) arrived with a very good Parm-Reg polenta cake and ratatouille. Pan-seared branzino ($27) was just a bit overcooked. But it was served with delightful couscous-stuffed tomatoes. Linguine with clams and mussels ($24) in herb-white-wine sauce told me that pasta may be the way to go here. There are eight choices including Bolognese ($21), chicken piccata ($23) and bourbon-glazed shrimp scampi with tagliatelle ($26).

Desserts include an amazing red-velvet bread pudding ($9) and rosemary-and-olive-oil gelato ($10) served with rosemary beignets, sea salt and candied sugar.

Everyone at Tanzy seems to be having a good time. That’s likely because the service is some of the best I’ve seen in Boca in years. Personable and friendly, our server was assisted by a team of food runners and bus staff. Both the chef and the manger checked in with us, too. That service sets Tanzy apart.

jtanasychuk@tribune.com or 954-356-4632. Read his blog at SouthFlorida.com/sup and follow him Twitter.com @FloridaEats.

Tanzy

Mizner Park, 301 Plaza Real, Boca Raton

561-922-6699, TanzyRestaurant.com

Cuisine: Italian

Cost: Expensive

Hours: Dinner daily, lunch weekdays, brunch Saturday-Sunday

Reservations: Strongly suggested

Credit cards: AC

Bar: Full service

Sound level: Conversational, even when full

Outside smoking: Yes

For kids: Highchairs, booster seats, menu items on request

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

Parking: $5 valet; complimentary first-come, first-served parking in Parking Garage B