By Becki Coffy
Greeted by Tony Bianco, the owner of Hot Tomatoe, my charming dinner guest, Laura, and I decided to sit at the beautiful granite bar to enjoy the food, the friends and the family that Hot Tomatoe offers.
We were fortunate enough to dine on one of Tony’s special event nights featuring wines from the Opici wine company. A prix fix meal was created to pair with the wine selections for the evening; and Nilton, the wine consultant, had our glasses filled with a lovely Pinot Grigio from the vineyards of northern Italy the moment we sat down.
The light, refreshing Pinot Grigio, with fresh fruit flavors, was served with an appetizer featuring the traditional seven fishes plate. Clams, mussels, shrimp and calamari were some of the offerings on the beautifully-plated dish. The calamari was delicate and crisp, the shrimp fried in a wonderfully light coating that did not overpower the simple pleasure of what shrimp can be, and the mussels were served on top of a subtle sauce – so tender they seemed to melt in your mouth. The wine choice was an impeccable complement to Chef Enzo’s outstanding first course.
For the second portion of the event night, we sampled a glass of red Altadonna Sangiovese (a good bouquet and hints of dark red cherries). Chef Enzo served his homemade pappardellei pasta with a pomodoro sauce finished with fresh parmesan and basil. The pasta was perfection in its simplicity.
As we sipped on the last sample wine of the night, a dry red Mara Ripasso, the smell of lamb began to waft from the kitchen, making everyone anxious to taste Chef’s final creation of the evening. The lightly-breaded lamb chops were beautifully seasoned, fork tender and served with roasted potatoes and crisp green beans … a perfect ending to a perfect evening.
The lovely ambience of soft golden walls and red leather booths immediately transports you into a little corner of Italy.
The menu offers all the traditional Italian dishes you could imagine: filet, veal chops and osso buco were recently added to the extensive menu.
The mozzarella cheese and all pastas, sauces and breads are made fresh at Hot Tomatoe. Nonna’s meatball, voted the “Best in Broward,” is definitely the most popular appetizer selection. Pasta, chicken, fish, eggplant and veal round out the authentic Italian choices.
When selecting personal favorites, owner Tony prefers the Snapper Française, but Chef Enzo chooses the Sunday Sauce and Rigatoni. As for me, I will be ordering the Portobello Ravioli on my next visit, which no doubt will be soon.
Most event nights are held the first Tuesday of every month, but be sure to check the event calendar at www.hottomatoe.com. Hot Tomatoe is located at 626 S. Federal Hwy. in Deerfield Beach. Open Monday through Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m. Reservations: 954-480-6464. Hot Tomatoe is definitely a place where regulars frequent and newcomers are welcomed. In this busy season of gift giving, be sure to treat yourself to the gift of good food and a wonderful evening out on the town. Until we eat again…