Louie Bossi's Ristorante, Bar and Pizzeria
1032 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-356-6699, LouieBossi.com
Other than your basic ham or Cuban, I've never given much thought to pork on a sandwich. Then, I had lunch at Louie Bossie's Ristorante, Bar and Pizzeria and ordered something called the Boss ($15.50). It's made with porchetta, one of chef Bossi's specialties. He starts with humanely raised hogs from Palmetto Creek Farms in Avon Park. Pork belly is stuffed with rosemary, sage, garlic, orange zest and toasted fennel, then roasted for three hours before being sliced for sandwiches. It's served on house-baked bread with pesto, provolone, arugula and cherry peppers. It comes with giardiniera and a choice of salad or rosemary potato chips. It satisfies on every level.
14917 Lyons Road, Delray Marketplace, Delray Beach, 561- 501-4443
3252 NE First Ave., the Shops at Midtown Miami, 786-800-5389
I like regular pork ribs as much as the next guy, but give me lamb ribs, and I'm in heaven. Lamb ribs' relatively rarity on South Florida menus may be why I'm so smitten with chef David Blonsky's Moroccan-spiced version ($16) at Apeiro. Blonsky rubs Denver ribs in a special spice blend and lets them sit for an entire day. They're smoked with a hickory and pecan wood blend, then brushed with rosemary barbecue sauce and grilled until charred. After a final dusting of Moroccan spice and a drizzle of rosemary-fig barbecue sauce, they're served with a big dollop of pistachio yogurt and a baby arugula roasted-pepper salad. Like all good ribs, they're tender but still a bit chewy. They're so good that I could order two appetizer portions and be done for dinner.
BEST NEW RESTAURANT
Vagabond Restaurant and Bar
7301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 786-409-5635, VagabondRestaurant.com
Some great restaurants opened this year, but none stands out quite like Vagabond Restaurant and Bar. First, there's the setting in the vintage 1950s motel that was meticulously restored by developer Avra Jain, complete with its kooky porte-cochere. The inside is all "Mad Men" glamour with a round bar and Saarinen-style wood-topped tables. Then, there's the California-born Alex Chang, who creates menus that are Californian in their reliance on incredible ingredients but unique in that the chef thoughtfully borrows from just about every ethnic tradition. Standouts, and there are many, include ricotta gnocchi with kale butter, breadcrumbs and savory cabbage and roasted carrots with mole, yogurt and a scattering of hazelnuts and za'atar. The cheeseburger is also not to be missed.
Warsaw Coffee Company
815 NE 13th St., Fort Lauderdale, 954-990-4189, WarsawCoffee.com
You want a Fruity Pebbles oatmeal raisin cookie? What about pake? That's a pecan pie baked inside a chocolate cake. These and other delights are on tempting display at Warsaw Coffee Company. They come courtesy of chef and co-owner Jason Morale, who spent the first part of his career working at some of the country's top luxury hotels. He knows the difference between pâte à choux (basic pastry dough) and pâte feuilletée (puff pastry). He's brought those skills to this sleek, Seattle-style coffee shop, where it's sometimes hard to think about Warsaw's sandwiches and salads when a caseful of caramel pecan cinnamon buns, Earl Grey cookies and s'mores tarts is staring you in the face. I can hardly wait to see what Morale does during the holidays.
BEST THRIFT STORE
2425 N. Dixie Highway, Lake Worth, 561-588-4050, RedWhiteAndBlueThriftStore.com/Lake_Worth.html
We thrifters have been known to travel long distances in pursuit of potential deals. A favorite is World Thrift. A food-stylist colleague buys most of her props here. I was with a friend when he unearthed an original Joan Miró lithograph. He paid less than $10 for a piece worth a couple of thousand. My own finds include the plain-white china — Studio Nova Tivoli White, produced from 1991 to 2007 — I use every day. I paid less than $20 for a big mismatched collection, which I've been adding to as I find pieces. A single dinner plate on the popular Replacements.com costs $16. I also got a vintage marble desk clock and an old wooden mahjong box. Stay away on Wednesdays, when much of the store is half price for folks over the age of 55. It's mobbed.