Review: BRIO Tuscan Grille

Posted on 11 February 2017 by JLusk


Start your meal with delicious calamari served with marinara and garlic aioli.

By Rachel Galvin

BRIO Tuscan Grille has become a go-to locale for Italian lovers over the last five years. Nestled within the Shops at Boca Center, the restaurant has a wide range of specialties, from Gorgonzola Crusted Beef Medallions to Veal or Chicken Milanese, Balsamic Braised Beef Short Rib to Prosciutto Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, and more. They have brought in lighter selections like quinoa and farro, to name a few, and even have a gluten free menu available.

One of General Manager Elvin Baoilli’s favorites is the Kale Caesar Salad. The key is taking the kale and preparing it ahead of time by marinating it with virgin olive oil.

Walking up to BRIO, you hear the muted hum of happy customers chatting while sitting on the outdoor patio, a perfect place for people watching. Inside, they have a full bar and plenty of places to sit in its large interior. But the place gets busy so making a reservation is a good idea.

Ready to try what BRIO has to offer? Start with an appetizer. A great choice is the calamari. It is perfectly cooked, slightly crispy and served with your choice of garlic aioli or marinara sauce, perfect for sharing. Next, you may want to try their Shrimp and Lobster Fettuccine, one of their specialties. The shrimp, especially, bursts with flavor. Even traditional standards like Pasta a la Vodka serve up some surprises here. Each piece of pasta is actually like a little purse that wraps around the delicious goodness inside. Whatever selection you choose, pair it with one of their wine selections, which come via bottle or glass. Don’t forget dessert. Their tiramisu come refreshingly cold and deliciously creamy.

Although their menu may have changes, their dedication to flavor has remained the same, according to one of the chefs, Sous Chef Steve Shoemaker, but the presentation has changed to a more rustic feel.

“We want people to feel like they are eating in their own home,” he said, adding that even some of the crockery feels more homestyle.

Try this specialty: lobster and shrimp fettuccine.

BRIO is a franchise so they have plenty of restaurants around the country, including 14 locations in South Florida alone. They also do catering.

The Boca Raton restaurant is located at 5050 Town Center Circle, Ste. 239. For more information, call 561-392-3777 or visit

Their Pasta alla Vodka has little pasta “purses” filled with delicious goodness.




No Italian meal is complete without dessert. Try the tiramisu. In the background is the Torta di Cioccolata. Pair with one of their coffee selections.

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Digital Art Pioneer: Laurence Gartel

Posted on 10 February 2017 by JLusk

By Rachel Galvin

Photo by Michael Colerano.

He has been called the “Father of Digital Art.” Every swirl, flourish and shape of his artwork is looked upon with great interest. Every colorful combination on his digital palette is studied. After all, he developed an artistic genre and has worked with countless celebrities. He even helped Pop Art superstar Andy Warhol learn the new media. And this internationally-known artist is right here in our own backyard.

Laurence Gartel lives in Boca Raton. His newest canvas … cars … have been seen in more car shows and festivals than can be named, including the Downtown Drive car show in Mizner Park. He was recently part of Art Fort Lauderdale, a new art fair, and can be seen in his online TV show on VIP Television. He utilized his unique style for the official artwork for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, a poster for Britney Spears and much more. He currently has an exhibit showing in Italy, showcasing both his work and Warhol’s. Gartel took time to talk with The Observer about his life and art.

“I was an artist from birth,” he began. “My first memory is crawling out of my crib and outlining my sleeping mother with red lipstick. I drew around her as she slept … up the wall and around the bed sheets.”

His artistic curiosity was nurtured by an artistic family. His father was a painting contractor in New York City with a strong passion for music. His mother, whom he classifies as “a piece of work” used knowledge and language as her medium. One of his aunts was an Off-Broadway actress, with children who did jewelry design, photography and worked for folk festivals; another aunt who was a clothing and accessory designer, with children involved in modern dance.

He met Andy Warhol at Studio 54.

“Everyone who was anyone could congregate there,” he said. “It was a magnet for artists of all skills: Truman Capote, Diana Vreeland, Halston, Mick Jagger … the list went on. It was there that I struck up a conversation with Warhol about the potentials of Computer Art. He invited me to his studio to help him learn the Amiga Computer. He was very shy and I showed him the toolbox and how to use the video camera to input images into the system.”

In the ’80s, Gartel showed off his “Moz Ocean” piece, a Polaroid SX-70 mural consisting of 324 individual prints, at PS1 in Long Island City and the Long Beach Museum of California. But it was the creation of the First Digital Art Cover for Forbes Magazine in 1989 that really got him attention. The same year, he released his book, Laurence M. Gartel: A Cybernetic Romance, and had a museum show called Laurence Gartel: Nuvo Japonica at the Joan Whitney Payson Gallery at Westbrook College in Portland, Maine.

“On this momentous occasion, I replaced Van Gogh’s ‘Irises,’ which was previously sold at auction for $53 million dollars. Just imagine hanging your work on the very same wall where this painting was on view for years – What an incredible thrill as an artist (a digital artist at that),” he said.

Among his favorite projects are creating the first Solar Powered Satellite Art Truck in Hamburg, Germany and driving it through five countries, arriving in Monte Carlo as the Official Artist of the Monaco International Film Festival. He also created the art for the NASA Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS) launch at Kennedy Space Center, a Dodge Viper Art Car for the Los Angeles Street Art Fair, and was the visionary for the 3D Print Show in Santa Clara. Another great moment was being asked to be the keynote speaker at the First Pan Pacific Conference in Melbourne, Australia in 1985. Recently, he was the featured artist of the Oslo Motor Show in Norway creating a BMW Art Car LIVE in front of 40,000 people. He just created a collection of unique cigar boxes filled with Cuban seed cigars from JRE Tobacco Farms in Honduras. It was his first “painting” commission in traditional media since 1973.

He first created his art cars in 2010 when TESLA Electric Car Company came to him and asked him to produce an art car that they could showcase during Art Basel Miami Beach that year.

“I held an event at Nikki Beach to unveil the car, as well as having a fashion show of Gartel clothing – some of the pieces matching the vehicle. It was over the top outrageous and the car went viral on the Internet to over 25,000 websites. Some of these sites can still be found on the Internet.”

He is commissioned to wrap vehicles. He utilizes his own custom software, something that was created for him when he went to India to make a Bollywood film/ music video. In addition, he uses antiquated 3D programs that are no longer available, making the images that much more unique.

“What’s old is new, so people have never seen such kind of imagery,” he explained.

He is embracing new technology as well.

“I started doing 3D Printing in 2008 for a private client who thought it would be a great challenge, and it was! It took at least 12 people and about a year to get the whole thing right. I went $75,000 over budget as well, which was not pleasant, but, back in the beginning days of this new medium, it was painstaking. The final ‘sculpture’ (now called a ‘3D-Print’ because there is no chiseling to be a sculpture) is an 18 in. object in red plastic material. I consider it a great triumph and innovation in art,” he said.

He added, “I have used every new piece of hardware and software along the way. I implemented new ways of working equipment that the manufacturers never thought of. Innovation comes from ‘trial and error,’ and it is usually the errors that make for greatness!”

Gartel has traveled the world, but enjoys living in Florida. He moved here from New York after being showcased in a retrospective show at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach in 1991.

“I was treated so well that I decided to move here with my family. I wanted to give my children a better life than the hustle and bustle of New York City,” he said.

He even created this poster for Britney Spears.

Laurence was selected to do the official artwork for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards.

Laurence is well known for his artistic cars.

Working on Apple II, circa 1980.

Laurence’s latest venture– cigar boxes!

For more information on this artistic pioneer, visit








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Highlands falls in regional quarterfinals

Posted on 09 February 2017 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

For the second consecutive year, Highlands Christian Academy’s (HCA) boys’ soccer season ended on the Lake Worth campus at Trinity Christian Academy.

Junior Rogeni Decaster tallied a golden goal with three minutes remaining in the first overtime to lift the host Warriors to a 1-0 victory over HCA (9-6-3) in the boys Region 3-1A soccer quarterfinals.

Decaster’s 17th goal of the season propelled Trinity Christian (15-2-3) into the regional semifinal where it fell in overtime to Boca Raton Christian. The Warriors won last year in regional semifinal 2-1.

HCA played the final 48 minutes of the game, including overtime, a man down after one of its players, Richard Silva, was hit with two cautions. Trinity Christian was state runner-up in 2014 when it lost 2-0 to First Academy (Orlando).

It was a rebuilding year for us,” said Knights coach Darryl Mauro. “We are a small school where most players join our team for the first game. We average 6-10 players at pre-season training since most are participating in other sports, and all but one or two of our players touch a soccer ball during the off season. They played hard.”

Bucks have 13 move on to college

With three players already enrolled in college – Jerry Jeudy (Alabama), Deslin Alexandre (Pittsburgh) and Leroy Henley (East Carolina) – Deerfield Beach High School added an additional 10 to that haul on National Signing Day last week.

We laid out a very strenuous regimen for those guys to follow,” said Bucks football coach Jevon Glenn. “They’ve dedicated themselves. This is just the fruit of their labor. I am extremely proud … a very proud day for me, a very proud day for our football program.”

Receiver Daewood Davis, who signed with Oregon, and defensive lineman Lamonte McDougle, who chose West Virginia, were among the 10 college signees in this year’s draft class. Also signing were defensive back Eldine Dorvil (Albany State), DL Jamari Rouse (Bowling Green), quarterback Nick Holm (Florida Tech), DB Kobe Green (Buffalo), lineman Jose Jeanty and LB Branden Bailey (N.C. Central) and linebackers Brion Byrd and Cortez Grace (Virginia Union).

Ely falls to Dillard in Big 8

When it comes to the BCAA Big 8 boys’ basketball tournament, it appears that rival Dillard has Blanche Ely’s number.

Dillard’s Raiquan Gray and Robert Johnson helped key a 21-6 run early in the third quarter to break open a tight game and led the Panthers to a 72-61 victory over Blanche Ely at Ft. Lauderdale High School. Dillard won last year’s Big 8 championship with a 68-62 victory over the Tigers. Both teams won state titles in their respective classifications.

Johnson threw down a two-handed dunk off a look-away pass from Gray to push the lead to 52-35 with 1:09 left in the third quarter. Johnson finished with 17 points, Gray had 11 points and Bryce Oliver added 12.

Jordan Wright, a prized football recruit for Kentucky, finished with 18 points for the Panthers and helped Dillard seize a 28-27 halftime lead with a buzzer-beating 3-point basket.

Ely’s Geremy Taylor scored 13 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter to pull the Tigers close before Wright converted a three-point play with 1:16 left to give Dillard a 68-57 lead to seal the game. Michael Forrest added 14 points for Blanche Ely.

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Boil Water Advisory Lifted –for Deerfield Beach Residents

Posted on 03 February 2017 by JLusk

February 5, 2017 12:32 PM

Boil Water Advisory Lifted

Effective immediately, the February 3rd, 2017 “Boil Water Advisory” is hereby rescinded. All bacterial test results showed no contamination of our drinking water. Therefore, be advised that your water is safe to drink and use for all household purposes. Thank you for your understanding during this precautionary action ensuring the integrity of the public drinking water supply.

If you have any questions, please call the City of Deerfield Beach, Water Department at 954-480-4370.

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Delray Beach Fashion Week

Posted on 02 February 2017 by JLusk

By Rachel Galvin

Fashionistas from around South Florida came out to the Delray Fashion Week Jan. 25-29. Created by the Downtown Development Authority and Downtown merchants, the festivities included multiple fashion shows, a Stiletto Race, Boutique Pop-Up Shopping event, a white party, fashion luncheon and more. The week culminated with a Swim & Surf show at Old School Square featuring some great jams from Spider Cherry. For more photos, visit For more information on the event, visit

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Author Lisa Eva Gold On Overcoming Chronic Fatigue

Posted on 30 January 2017 by LeslieM

By Rachel Galvin

On Jan. 18, Lisa Eva Gold gave a talk about Chronic Fatigue at the Deerfield Beach Woman’s Club. This author of A Will to Survive ~ A Women’s Journey Through Chronic Fatigue, inspired guests by talking about how she was able to overcome the Chronic Fatigue diagnosis and go on to become the author of eight books, an actress, hairstylist, piano teacher, mother and more.

When asked how she first became diagnosed, she said, “I had been diagnosed in 2004/2005 with Mono. Because I had been in my 30s, the medical field states that Mononucleosis after 20 is considered Chronic Fatigue.”

She feels that the disease came on due to stress.

She explained, “I sort of gave up on life, attitude wise. I was worn down by my husband’s addictions to alcohol and his physical ailments. When we are surrounded by toxic people in our lives, they wear us down. It is much harder to stay happy and positive when the people around you are not happy and positive.”

She added, “I am completely cured of this disease. I refused to take medications and healed myself by making different choices in my life, in my lifestyle and in my work. I think everything is connected. You or I could make ourselves sick just by harping on the idea of being sick. We can also make ourselves well. It’s all in the attitude we keep. Positive love and happiness is a state of being. It is easier to be this than to be unhappy and unwell.”

She has another book she is currently working on getting published with Hay House. It deals with her life going back to the 1980s and depression and is titled Ms. Understood. It was originally supposed to be published last year, but she has taken extra time to do additional research. She plans to release it sometime this year.

Asked what advice she would give for people diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue, she said, “Take the quiet time to reconnect with yourself. Tap into who you are. Connect with that passionate side of yourself. We are all trees with many branches. Having hobbies and fun activities outside of the mundane work schedule is not only healthy but a necessity to remind yourself of who you are and what you love. No matter what your age, or where or how you live. Always remember that YOU come first. Your happiness comes from within. You create your own reality.”

For more information on Lisa, visit

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JA Uncorked + Crafted VII

Posted on 30 January 2017 by LeslieM

By Rachel Galvin

Junior Achievement of South Florida benefited from another successful JA Uncorked event Jan. 21 at the JA World Huizenga Center at Broward College in Coconut Creek. Created by the Circle of Wise Women, this event was presented by Breakthru Beverage Florida. Guests could sample a wide variety of cuisine from South Florida restaurants and sip quality wines and craft beer. After bidding on items in the silent auction and eating to their heart’s content, guests listened to music by The Edge and kicked up their heels to dance the night away. Visit

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Wick does West Side Story

Posted on 30 January 2017 by LeslieM

By Rachel Galvin

On Jan. 14, Wick Theatre in Boca Raton introduced the classic West Side Story to a packed audience. The From a slow burn to a raucous rumble, the tale unfolded filled with smooth moves and high kicking action to punctuate the poetic dialogue until its tragic conclusion. If the dancing doesn’t keep you on your toes while watching, then the well-known melodies will warm your heart. The play has added value with its multi-purpose and mobile set pieces that offer just a hint of structure and let the personalities shine rather than be hidden by the window dressing.

The coquettish Maria (played by Mary Joanna Grisso) seems a little too childlike next to the strong-armed and much taller Tony (Thaddeus Pearson). But their tender moments ring true. Grisso steals the spotlight in every scene. Sydney Mei Ruf-Wong also does a fine job as Anita. But this really is an ensemble piece meant to be taken in as a whole with the choreography, by director/ choreographer Charles South and Ryan VanDenBoom, being the real star.

West Side Story runs until Feb. 26. For more information, visit

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Bengals win county middle school title

Posted on 26 January 2017 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Pompano Beach Middle School girls basketball coach Brittany Harvard knows firsthand what it means to put together a perfect season and in the process be MVP for county champion.

Harvard recently guided her team to a 14-0 season and the Broward County Middle School championship with a convincing 65-29 victory over Pembroke Pines Charter at Stranahan High School.

It was a sense of déjà vu for Harvard who was MVP in 2003 for the Bengals when they finished 13-0 and won the county championship.

The focus level was unbelievable,” said Harvard, who went on to star at Blanche Ely High School and then play at Benedict College in Colombia, SC. “To see a middle school team focus like that was unbelievable. The year we won, the whole team wasn’t focused – maybe a couple, maybe the starting five. To have a strong 10 girls just lock in and focus on one goal, it was amazing.”

Bengals eighth-grader Ja’Leah Williams scored a game-high 34 points as Pompano Beach handed Pembroke Pines Charter its only loss of the season in 14 games.

Along the way, Pompano Beach abruptly halted two-time defending county champion Dillard Middle School’s 41-game win streak in the semifinals, 60-17. Dillard had lost just once to Westglades in the county semifinals the year the school opened three years ago. They are 53-2 during that span. The victory over Dillard this year avenged a 33-32 setback in last year’s semifinals that ended Pompano’s season.

Pompano Beach lost to William Dandy three years ago in the second round of the playoffs and is 37-2 during that span.

We beat Dillard this year so they knew how we felt last year, but worse,” said Williams, 14, of Pompano Beach, who has been on the team all three years. She averaged 36 points a game this year.

We were thinking about that one point loss all season, since the first practice,” said Williams, who averaged 36 points a game this year. “At the beginning of the championship game I knew we had it. We had more skill than they did.”

Williams scored five of her game-high 34 points in the first quarter and dropped in another 13 in the second quarter as the Bengals led 33-12 in the title game. Williams added nine in the third and seven in the final quarter to earn MVP honors for the game. She also dished out five assists, had six steals and five rebounds in the contest.

Bengals’ eighth-grader Mikihia Lumsdon and seventh grader Mya Kone each added 10 points, while seventh graders Michiyah Simmons and Zaria Blake had 6 and 4 points, respectively.

Pompano Beach also went 12-0 in 1993, this season marking the third time in school history that they were perfect.

The one thing that stood out was their dedication and their working hard,” Harvard said as she reflected on the season. “They were always determined to learn, even what they already knew. They stayed determined to work on their craft – both strengths and weaknesses – from the time we lost last year all the way up to now.”

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FLICKS: The Founder & Hell or High Water

Posted on 26 January 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

As we come to an end of Small Business Appreciation Month, I have often wondered if there have been any movies that have presented small business in a positive light. Beyond some Hallmark Hall of Fame movies, most Hollywood motion pictures present business practices in a negative light. Some of these motion pictures actually get nominated for awards.

Produced by the Weinstein Brothers, The Founder presents the growth of the McDonald’s fast food franchise in America. We are introduced to Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), a traveling salesman who takes an interest in a unique food service business in San Bernadino, California. Run by the McDonald Brothers, Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch), Kroc learns the secret of their success.

After agreeing to franchise McDonald’s in middle America, Kroc’s ambition outweighs the McDonald brothers desire for quality control. Conflict ensues and Kroc eventually gains an edge through a legal loophole.

The Founder is a good story about growing a business. You can enjoy watching Ray Kroc visiting service organizations like the Rotary and the Jaycees to promote the American Dream. You see how constricting the original franchise contract is for Ray Kroc; yet, by the time the story is told, you feel so much sympathy for Dick and Mac McDonald.

Currently available on DVD, Hell or High Water is film noir set in the modern west. Taking a cue from No Country for Old Men and Breaking Bad, Hell or High Water introduces us to the Howard Brothers, Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster), who rob Texas banks a la Robin Hood.

Soon to be retired Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and his Mexican/Comanche partner Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) pursue these masked bank robbers. A showdown is inevitable for these rangers and the brothers, but one walks away from Hell or High Water feeling sympathy for both sides of the conflict.

As the study of economics is considered “the dismal science,” the business practices in both The Founder and Hell or High Water can be perceived as gloomy entertainment. However, there are lessons to be learned from both movies and, whatever award consideration these two fine films receive, will be justified.

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