A, B & I @ Casa D'Angelo's in Fort LauderdaleNo, wait a minute. Where are we going? Oooooooooooooooooh.
D'ANGELO PIZZA in OAKLAND PARKNOT CASA D'ANGELO'S! $$ not $$$$. My wallet thanks you, B!
I walk in already pleased that my estimated meal cost just halved itself. It made the sting of the mandatory "complimentary" (you gotta tip, of course) valet a little easier. Prices at this Italian Tapas Bar range on average from $6 - $15. Much more Tuesday night worthy.
The place is attractive. Outside there's some sturdy looking and clean tables and chairs out on some clean looking cerement but I barely payed it any attention. There was NO WAY I'd eat outside because (1) it's on US1. US1 is chock full of various crazies and strange folks with boundary issues. I'm glad they are around to make the city a more interesting place to live but I don't like to mix the un-medicated mentally ill and my dinner so much. Nor do I like exhaust fumes wafting over my aromatically spiced meat balls. US1 is one of my least favorite locations for dining al fresco. Also, (2) It's the end of June in Fort Lauderdale. I would melt.
Inside D'Angelo Pizza it's clean, cool, and decorated in a way that says, "High Quality Ikea". The dining room is long and narrow, kind of like a shinny, forcibly modern bowling alley. The waitstaff is all decked out in crisp black and whites with embroidered D'Angelo Pizza logos. It's very sleek and well lit. It's bright enough to see your food/dim enough to soften the blow of your dining partners pock marked skin or plastic surgery scars. There's a bar, a deli counter(!!!), and a semi open kitchen with a wood burning stove to the right. Yeah! A Deli Counter! A long straight backed booth and tables are to the left. Paper reminiscent of parchment lined the tables, looking like white table cloths, but actually being the opposite as they are disposable, a lot more practical. Maybe not the most environmentally friendly but... that's not this place's point.
We got there pretty stinkin' early, around 530pm. The staff greatly out numbered the customers. They were all jovial and in good spirits, doing a lot of milling around. I mentioned this apparent over staffing to A, the line cook I was dining with. He assures that we have just beat the dinner rush. He's right, half way through the meal those milling around waitstaff were moving like the wind, like graceful italian gazelles, and suddenly we're almost elbow to elbow with hungry masses. It's an odd crowd to not quite rub elbows with. To the left are a cute couple of body builders, lovers i suspect. To the right is an all adult family of 3. Across from us there's some awkward father-son bonding going on. All just of the tables were spaced just adequately. I couldn't smell any other tables food or breath. Having just recently eaten at Kelly's Landing in Fort Lauderdale, I appreciate the adequate distance.
When they seated us, they promptly brought some oven toasted bread. It reminded me of biscotti but I guess it was focaccia. it wasn't the most flavorful bread, and it shredded the top of my mouth, which gave everything else i ate from that point a tinny metallic taste. Mmm, mouthblood. Ignoring my now tender pallett, I enjoyed trying their choices of dipping liquids. There was a nice olive oil, balsamic & chili oil. It was wise of them to give us something to munch on while we gaped at the intense, huge menu.
The menus are on two sided place mats on the tables when they seat you. Those things are pretty overwhelming. You can chose from various kinds of Tapas ($8 - $10), Soups ($5 - $8), Bruschette ($7 - $9), Ceviche & Carpacci ($10 - $12), Panini ($8), Salads ($7 - $8), Pizze ($9-$13), Pizze Bianche ($11 - $14), Calzone ($11 - 13) & Wood Oven Frittatas ($8-$9). They also have cheese & cold cuts. a CHEESE course. Where else in Fort Lauderdale is there a cheese course? ($20 - $50). Sure, it's kind of a lame selection. Fontina, Gorgonzola, Asiago, Reggiano, or Provolone? Yawn. But anyway, it's the thought that counts. I just kind of expected more, what with the deli counter(!) and all.
The "B side" of the place mat menu was the wine list. I know next to nothing about wine. I ignored it. They have a couple of decent-enough beers. Stella & Bass on tap. I didn't order one.
I ended up settling on the pasta fagioli ($6) which was, honestly, the best i've ever had. The pasta was cooked right, the cannellini beans still had good bite but were plenty tender. It took a while to get to the table but it was worth the wait (and the $6 price tag). My dining mate got the lobster bisque ($8) which was one of the better lobster bisques i've had. Beats the living snot out of the... well... snot that is Morton Steakhouse's lobster bisque. Morton's was watery, fishy, and featured a slimy sliver of lobster dead of center. Also, frankly, inedible. D'Angelo, however, delivered. It was, for a lack of a better term, very lobstery. Also creamy and thick. Both portions were quite large and quite filling. They also both had those biscotti like bread sticks in the soup. They were too dense to soak up the soup and were hard/impossible to cut with a spoon. And I didn't want to fill up on bread. That's how they getchya. (ha). Both bread logs got set aside. They hindered the otherwise great soups.
Offered with the soup and throughout the meal was fresh cracked pepper and fresh grated cheese, (I assume parmigiana.)
I barely had room for the Salmon Pizze Bianche (sushi thin lox on soft brie cheese, chives & lemon oil. ($12). It was on whole a good and interesting pizza. It was sizable. 6 respectable slices worth of pizza. Rich with cheese & oil, light on the chives. The lemon oil was a bit too subtle with the lemon to add to the dish. What it did ad was more fat and oil to an already fatty and oily pizza. Brie is already heavy. I suspect that it wasn't all brie, either. It didn't melt or pull like brie. It tasted like brie and... something else.They didn't promise it was 100% brie. It could have, even ethically, been mozzarella in there, too. Brie could have been considered a "topping". Whatever it was, it was melty, cheesy, plentiful and had a subtle pleasant gameness of a ripe brie. The crust of the pizza was crisp and flaky. I would order it again, but perhaps, hold the lemon oil, and instead ask for a lemon.
Also ordered were the chicken and turkey meatballs. There were two fist sized balls swimming in a well made marinara. The balls were light, bright, clean, and distinctively chicken and turkey. They weren't too bad. I wouldn't have ordered it, and I didn't, but it was good for what it was.
Also: Quattro Bruschette, a sampler of Basilico (mozz, tomato & basil, Toscana (chicken liver mouse), Gambero (three tiny shrimp, three bits of a cherry tomato & mint) & Scapece (eggplant, garlic and some balls to the wall balsamic) on bruschette. The Toscana & Scapece were winners, Gambero & Basilico lost with me. The one who ordered them loved them all. I just thought the later two were a little dry and could've used some salt or something. I suppose I could've salted them.
Also: Some classic italian chicken dish i've forgotten the name of. It was extremely homey tasting. I remarked to the one who ordered it, a 10 year veteran of the kitchen, "This tastes like your food!". And it did. It tasted like the end of the week meals he makes for me. Professionally done, but homey tasting. There were roasted vegetables everywhere. Roasted red peppers, roasted zucchini (which was also fried in oil, i think. it was kind of oily.) and roasted potatoes. Despite a couple of technical flaws, it was a very homey dish.
I was way too full to go for a desert. I didn't even consider it.
This place has much more to be explored. I will definitely be back.
**** (4) Heey, that's pretty good!