| Restaurant Reviews

Phat Boy Sushi & Kitchen

Posted on 11 April 2019 by LeslieM

By Rachel Galvin

Sometimes, you don’t need all the flair… you just want things simple. Phat Boy Sushi & Kitchen lives by that philosophy. Much like a Ying & Yang symbol, the aesthetics of their newest restaurant located in Deerfield Beach is based on black and white, with large scale muted geisha paintings adding a sense of harmony and authenticity.

Phat Boy Sushi & Kitchen works to be as genuine as possible in its Japanese selections as it offers up a large variety of not only sushi and sashimi, but plenty of choices straight from the kitchen as well. For a perfect beginning, try their delicious Banging Shrimp which is jumbo shrimp battered in tempura and served covered in a mildly spicy mayo topped with scallions.

One of their more popular dishes is their Mushroom Tobanyaki, which is a pretty big size for an appetizer. It consists of three different type of mushrooms sauteed in a rich soy sake sauce with a touch of butter, although the buttery flavor is obvious throughout.

Always popular is their ramens. They have several types. This reporter tried the Tonkotsu Ramen and it was huge. (They definitely allow for sharing and will separate dishes into bowls ahead of time). The large bowl was filled with a salty and creamy pork broth. Inside was a six minute egg, shitake mushrooms, caramelized and tender slices of marinated pork belly, scallions, bean sprouts, seaweed and onions. Digging into the bottom unveiled the egg noodles just waiting to be discovered.

They have yakitori, seafood selections, salads, rice, stir fry and more. If you don’t like raw fish, you can order a California Roll, for example, which has cooked crab. For $3.50 more, you can upcharge to real (not imitation) King Crab, which is delicious and sweet. On the menu are the desserts — with traditional selections like mochi ice cream and more unconventional ones too. Their most popular is fried oreo.

“We cater to those who eat sushi and kitchen food. We serve our food tapas style, geared toward sharing,” said manager Breyden Haessig.

They also have a bar with beer, wine and sake. There is a “reverse happy hour” from 10:30 p.m. until close. They offer draft beer for $2.50 and bottomless hot sake for $10.

The restaurant is open seven days a week 11:30 a.m. to midnight.

Owner John Maser said he has wanted to create food since he was young.

“I enjoy people’s smiles because they like my food,” said Maser. “I have always wanted to do this since I was a kid. Sushi can be much more artistic. I can make it more beautiful.”

“This is our third location,” said Haessig. “The first one was in Oakland Park for three years. We also have a location in downtown Ft. Lauderdale which has been open for a year. We opened here before the first of the year.”

He said the restaurant caters to people’s needs.

“A lot of places say no substitutes [We will customize for you]. Tell us what you want. We want people to come and leave happy,” he said.

Phat Boy Sushi & Kitchen is located at 949 S. Federal Hwy. For more information, call 754-227-5489 or visit www.phatboysushi.com.

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Prezzo is back

Posted on 14 March 2019 by LeslieM

With a new chef and healthier options

By Rachel Galvin

If you travel into Boca Raton just north of Yamato on Military Trail, you will find a very interesting shopping locale called Park Place, which opened two years ago but may still be unknown to many. The open air feel and fresh modern architecture are quite inviting. Within this shopping oasis, you will find several eateries, including Prezzo, which opened a little over a year ago. If that name sounds familiar, it should. You may remember Prezzo from years ago. It became a popular hotspot after originally opening in west Boca in 1989 bringing with it one of the first wood burning pizza ovens to South Florida.

Executive Chef Patrick Delay just started with Prezzo back in August. This up-and-coming chef was nominated for the Eater 2019 Young Guns award (the winner will be announced this summer) and is the youngest in the restaurant group, which includes Max’s Grill in Mizner Park, as well as Deck 84 and Burt & Max’s in Delray.

He has recently added some new items to his menu to accommodate those seeking healthier options. His veggie forward focus includes vegetable lasagna made with butternut squash noodles and other hearty, but healthy, ingredients. They also have zucchini noodles. Many items are easily made gluten free upon request.

A must-try is the Quinoa & Squash Salad — a light but filling option. Roasted chicken lays atop quinoa and arugula, mixed with pieces of roasted butternut squash and zucchini, sprinkled with dried cranberries with added pumpkin seeds for texture, made with balsamic vinaigrette.

A nice traditional entrée with a healthier spin is their chicken marsala. Rich with flavor, the chicken falls apart easily with a fork and pairs nicely with cauliflower cous cous, which serves as a great alternate base for the dish, and savory mushrooms.

Seeking comfort food? An option like baked rigatoni, which has a pop of flavor with its added crumbled Italian sausage, is a nice choice. It also has broccoli, red pepper flakes and parmesan cream.

They also have chicken, pork, seafood, pasta, pizza and more, so there is plenty to eat. Many items have carried over from the original Prezzo, like their fusilli pasta, roasted garlic breadsticks and their wood oven-baked apple tart, which makes for a nice light dessert (The best part is the cinnamon gelato on top).

There are plenty of specials here, including a 12 for $12 menu (including a beverage) Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a half priced happy hour daily from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.— buy one entrée, get the second one half off.

There is a full bar with a happy hour from 12 to 6 p.m. (from any seat in the restaurant) with wine by the glass specials and ½ priced beer and spirits. Enjoy live music on Thursdays from 8 to 9:30 p.m. on the outdoor patio. This is a great spot for a date night or family outing.

Prezzo is located at 5560 N Military Tr., #300, in Boca Raton. For more information, visit www.prezzoboca.com.

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HAPPENINGS

Posted on 28 February 2019 by LeslieM

Florida Renaissance Festival

Through March 24, weekends

Quiet Waters Park

401 S. Powerline Rd.

Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

Featuring Renaissance-theme performances, artisans and activities, the festival includes theme weekends, including:

Swashbucklers & Sirens: March 9 & March 10

Kilts & Colleens: March 16 & March 17

Magic, Witches and Wizards: March 23 & March 24

Call 954-776-1642 for more information.

Festival of the Arts — Boca

Thursday Feb. 28 to March 10

Mizner Park Amphitheater

590 Plaza Real

Boca Raton, FL 33432

Presenting a diverse range of quality musical performances and literary events, kicking off with events like a screening of Star Wars accompanied by a full symphony orchestra (March 1), a talk by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin (Feb. 28) and so much more! For full schedule, visit https://festivalboca.org/events.

St. Ambrose Carnival & Music Festival

Thursday to Sunday, Feb. 28 to March 3

St. Ambrose Catholic Church

380 S. Federal Hwy.

Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

The St. Ambrose Carnival celebrates its 25th anniversary this year with rides, food and other fundraising opportunities for the church, as well as live entertainment all weekend long. (See pg. 6 for more details).

Jeffery Battie: Short Films

Thurs, Feb. 28, 7 p.m.

The Pompano Beach Cultural Affairs Dept.

50 W. Atlantic Blvd.

Pompano Beach, FL 33060

Pompano Beach Cultural Center Filmmaker Jeffrey Battie will screen four short films, including his award-winning Eyes Have Seen the Glory. Discussion and Q&A topics will include the short filmmaking process, how art film captures stories that would otherwise be lost and the best practices for expressing those emotions through film. This is part of a new film series hosted by The Pompano Beach Cultural Affairs Department. Not only will there be film screenings, but also industry networking events, workshops, artist talks and panel discussions. Events will take place on the last Thursday of each month and will rotate among the Pompano Beach Cultural Center, Bailey Contemporary Arts and the Historic Ali Cultural Arts. This is the kickoff event. Tickets for all events are $10 and can be purchased at the door, online or at the Cultural Center Box Office.

Movies on the Lawn – Stuart Little

Friday, March 1, 7 p.m.

Great Lawn

Intersection of Atlantic and Pompano Beach Blvd.

Pompano Beach, FL 33062

The City of Pompano Beach Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Department invites you to bring your lawn chairs, blankets and picnics and come enjoy a featured presentation under the stars on the first Friday of every month at the Great Lawn. This is a free, family – friendly event. For more information, call 954-786-4111 or visit www.pompanobeachfl.gov.

Retro Night

Saturday, March 2, 5 p.m.

Herb Skolnick Community Center

800 SW 36 Ave.

Pompano Beach, FL 33069

Retro night – Revisiting the 1970s. Free outdoor event, live music, food truck and classic car show.

Sip & Stroll

Saturday, March 2, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Constitution Park Arboretum

2841 W. Hillsboro Blvd.

Deerfield Beach, FL 33441

Sample some food and wine, and enjoy live entertainment. Walk around the Arboretum and mingle with guests. 21+ only. More info. on pg. 4. Shuttle available from Target Plaza, at 3313 W. Hillsboro Blvd., from 5:45 to 9:30 p.m. For more information, please call the Constitution Park at 954-480-4494.

Save the Date:

Tour Hillsboro Lighthouse

Saturday, March 9

Sail times every hour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sands Harbor Resort & Marina

125 N. Riverside Dr.

Pompano Beach, FL, 33064

Enjoy a fun day at the lighthouse. Registration/check-in starts 30 minutes prior to the first sail time and remains open until the last boat returns. The boat leaves the Sands dock to the lighthouse at each sail time. The boat departs from the Lighthouse dock to the Sands approximately 30 minutes later (for an approximate 1 hour round trip). Suggested arrival at the dock 10-20 minutes before departure time. Members will register/check you in, provide you with a wrist band, and assist you with boarding for the boat ride to/from the lighthouse. A current HLPS membership or a $35 transportation fee is required.

The Soroptimists Nash Bash

Saturday, March 9, 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Pavilion Grille

301 Yamato Rd.

Boca Raton, Fl 33431

The Soroptimists of Pompano Beach are going “country” with their annual fund-raising event. This year’s event, will include great country music for dancing, a buffet dinner and desserts and an open bar all evening. It will also include a Silent Auction, a balloon “Pop,” a 50/50 cash drawing and more. Proceeds support girls and women in the community. They provide scholarships and awards to young women, as well as single mothers. They also support the Flite Center whose one-of-a-kind program assists and guides young adults aging out of the foster care program, as well as the Woodhouse Center and many others. Come dressed in your best casual or country attire. Tickets are $100 and can be obtained from any member of the Pompano Beach Soroptimist or contact Becky Walzak at 561-459-7070 for details.

The Pap Corps presents

Footloose & Cancer Free

Sunday, March 10, 6 p.m.

Seminole Casino Coconut Creek

5550 NW 40 St.

Coconut Creek, FL 33073

Amateur dance couples from all over different Pap Corps chapters will compete live at the event and will also be featured in online videos to raise funds from friends, family and Cancer-fighters globally. The evening will feature a delicious assortment of hors d’oeuvres, carving station, signature drinks and an exciting dance-off to crown both the best dance couple and the biggest fundraisers. Register for the event ($75) at www.thepapcorps.org.

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Have you visited J. Mark’s lately?

Posted on 03 January 2019 by LeslieM

By Rachel Galvin

If you haven’t been to J. Mark’s in a long time, now is the time to revisit the restaurant. They have a brand new menu brimming with fresh and tasty options, as well as many of their traditionally popular items.

Start with an appetizer. Their guacamole and chips is an easy choice, but they also have something more refined—their spinach artichoke dip. You can add Maryland Blue crab — rich and decadent — for $3.99. For seafood lovers, they also have mussels now on the menu. They have healthy options like salads, including their new Blue Pistachio Kale for kale lovers, in addition to Oriental Chicken, Pear Beet and many others.

When it comes to burgers, they have some great choices. If you want to indulge, get a Havarti Cajun burger. This melt-in-your-mouth bite includes the richness of cheese and a little kick. It is garnished with crispy onion rings and topped with pickles. They also have other options like their Blue Peppercorn or Hickory Burger, and more. Looking for a more affordable option, try their Trade Burger. At only $8.99 (as opposed to other burgers that range $14.99 to $18.99), this burger is a quarter pounder topped with lettuce, tomato and pickles. It is their alternative to fast food option — not only less expensive but also higher quality.

They have plenty of other sandwiches available, including chicken, quinoa, deep sea tuna, fresh fish and more as well on their standard menu. You can get half a sandwich and soup too.

Meat lovers may want to choose a steak instead. They use aged Certified Angus Beef. You can get a New York Strip or a Skirt Steak, but if you really want to dive into it, ask for their filet mignon. Their steaks can come with an Exotic Mushroom or Red Peppercorn sauce, as well as Oscar style, or topped with Blue Cheese or Balsalmic Caramalized Onions. For sides, try their delicious asparagus or Loaded Backed Potato.

Prefer pasta? Their veggie Lovers Pasta has always been on the menu, but it has had a reboot with more parmigiana and the addition of zucchini noodles, which you can also substitute for other pastas on the menu. It includes crunchy broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted eggplant, peppers, kalamata olives and red chili flakes.

Seafood lovers can try their new crab cakes made with lump blue crab, as well as many other items that have been traditionally on the menu, like their salmon, Mahi Mahi, scampi and more. But, you may want to try this reporter’s favorite bite from the new menu — their Shrimp New Orleans. I had it with Basmati Rice but it comes with Angel Hair Pasta. Yes, it is spicy, but you’ll want to dive right into it. This gem comes with blackened shrimp, Andoulle sausage, sauteed mushrooms, peppers, onions all served in a cajun cream sauce. Yum!

Looking for a smaller bite? Look at their Sliders section. They have surprising selections like the Green Tomato BLT Slider and Ahi Tuna slider (which you can also get without a bun.) They also have more traditional items like burger, prime rib and buffalo chicken sliders.

Make sure to pair your order with one of their specialty drinks like their mojito, margarita or martini, which all come in different varieties. They also have a wine list and a full bar. Ask about their happy hour specials.

Did you know that they also offer brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.? They have many selections, including a wide variety of Egg Benedicts!

With all these choices, there certainly is plenty to find for everyone.

Besides the food, J. Mark’s has great ambience perfect for a date or just a nice family dinner. Owner Steven Koch ensures that the place always looks new.They are constantly renovating something. Not only is there a brand new menu, but he is going to put in new flooring soon. He is always replacing the awning out front.

If it doesn’t look like new, there is something we need to do,” he said.

This is one of two J. Mark’s. The other one is located at 1245 N. Federal Hwy. in Ft. Lauderdale.

I grew up in restaurants,” said Steven Koch, who owns the restaurants with his brother who is a silent partner.

Koch came to Florida from Ohio and grew up in the country, so, to him, “being around all this activity and people is stimulating.”

This is exactly what I was meant to do. I can’t believe anyone else’s work is as exciting as what we get to do. It’s not just one component. It’s the design, the people, the menu – nothing feels better than being in the restaurant. The time flies when I’m here. I wish everyone loved the restaurant business as much as I do,” he said.

Visit Koch and his staff at J. Mark’s. Tell them The Observer sent you. The restaurant is located at 1490 NE 23 St in Pompano Beach (by the Pompano Citi Centre). For more information, visit www.JMarksRestaurant.com.

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Grand Opening, Luigi Di Roma opens in Deerfield

Posted on 01 May 2017 by LeslieM

By Rachel Galvin

There is a new Italian restaurant in Deerfield Beach. Celebrating its grand opening, Luigi Di Roma is located in the old Frank and Dino’s (which has moved to East Boca Raton). Chamber members had a chance to sample some cuisine at the ribbon cutting on April 20. This new locale, owned by Al Bova and his fiance Kristine Plesniak (pictured, pg. 1), features regional Italian cuisine.

I have long felt a high end Italian restaurant with large portions and reasonable prices would do well here,” said Bova. “Most Italian restaurants are overpriced and the quality is not good.”

Here, you will find selections like meatballs or Italian sausage slow simmered in Sunday gravy and ricotta over rigatoni, snapper francese, chicken parmigiana, fettucine alfredo, seafood fra diavolo, panini sandwiches and so much more. On Sundays, they have brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. They have a full bar and a happy hour every day from 4 to 7 p.m. with cocktails, wine and beer for half price and six light bites for $6 each. Ask about their family dinner, available on certain days, in which you can get a four course meal for $20.

They have entertainment Wednesdays through Saturdays starting at 6:45 p.m.

Luigi Di Roma is open starting at 4 p.m. every day but Sunday and closes at 10 p.m. during the week, 11 p.m. on weekends. They are located at 718 S. Federal Hwy. in Deerfield Beach. For more information, call 954-281-8788 or visit www.LuigiDiRoma.com.

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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.

www.brioitalian.com.

 

 

 

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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Biondo’s Pizza Plus: The Plus means more variety

Posted on 12 January 2017 by LeslieM

By Rachel Galvin

For five decades, Joe Biondo has been creating his pizza creations. In 2015, he moved from his location in The Cove Shopping Center, where he had been for five years, and moved to his current location in the Deerfield Square Shopping Center (606 S. Federal Hwy.) He credits the move as his best decision yet, citing his increased visibility and easy access to parking as the reason for his increase in customers.

As his business has grown, he has also expanded his menu, and that is where the Pizza Plus comes in, including deli different sandwiches – reubens, pastrami and more; wings; burgers; chicken fingers, calzones; strombolis and salads.

Our Philly Cheese Steak is filled with 12 oz. of meat and cheese,” said Biondo, who added, “Nobody uses Italian cold cuts like we do. We use Black Angus beef. We make our own pizza dough, sauce, everything is homemade and hands-on.”

They have plenty of sides to add, such as French fries, onion rings, mozzarella sticks, garlic knots, meatballs and Italian sausage.

Their pizza remains a staple. It comes in various sizes, including a 10 in. personal pizza, a 12 in. and a 17 in. All the pizzas come with grande cheese.

The regular pizza is called Napoleton, which in Florida is called New York style. We also have double dough, which is like a pan pizza – thick, and our Sicilian is a tomato pie, with lots of herbs and Romano and Mozzarella cheeses, virgin olive oil and fresh basil,” he said, adding, “We have gourmet pizzas, including chicken pesto, Florentine, Hawaiian Chicken and pineapple and white pizza (with Ricotta, Romano and Mozzarella) and Margarita (with fresh tomato and fresh basil). Our signature pizza is the Biondo Supreme.”

The secret ingredient is tradition. He uses his family’s longtime recipes. They hail from Cinisi, Sicily. Today, the business is run not only by Joe, but also his wife, Janet, and her son, David.

In addition to a wide variety of Italian specialties, they also have beer and wines available, including some selections from Italy, as well as soda.

Don’t forget dessert! They have cannolis, NY Style Cheesecake and zeppolis.

Biondo’s has always been known as a take-out and delivery locale, but they are really hoping people sit within their seating area, get away from the grind for awhile and enjoy. They even have a flat-screen TV to watch. Their prices are so affordable it makes it easy to feed the whole family.

They deliver within a 3-mile radius ($10 min. delivery). For more information, call 954-427-7754 or visit www.Biondo’s pizza.com.

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Cafe Med

Posted on 29 September 2016 by LeslieM

cafemed092916By Rachel Galvin

Walk toward Deerfield’s ocean breezes, head down near the pier and into Cafe Med, a ristorante that is both elegant and welcoming.

We are an extension of your dining room,” said General Manager Diego Oppo, whose goal is to make the atmosphere classy but not stuffy.

The staff, from the managers to the waiter, is very hands-on and goes out of their way to make you feel at home.

Giving good service doesn’t cost any more,” added Diego, who makes sure the staff is well-trained. “The only thing we don’t change is the personality of the server.”

Personality abounds here as everyone is like one big family, most hailing from Italy to add an air of authenticity.

The restaurant, which was revamped in 2012, has a new chef, Lillo Teodosi, who was at Boca Raton’s Caruso Ristorante before this and worked in Chicago for 30 years before that. Teodosi is originally from Rome, Italy. He also lived in England for five years working on a cruise ship so he has learned international flavors.

When you hear these guys saying ‘I learned how to cook from my mama, don’t believe it. My mama kicked me out of the kitchen. Boys weren’t allowed. But I worked in restaurants since I was 9 years old. My mom wanted me out of the house,” he said.

What he brings to Cafe Med is not only authentic flavors but simple, light recipes. He loves seafood and has a wide array of steaks available. The meal begins with crispy bread and a choice of three sauces – an olive tapenade, a red bell pepper sauce and a chimichurri sauce. Then, have one of their appetizers, everything from fried calamari to grilled octopus. As for entrees, one of their most popular items is their hog snapper. Lighter than a mahi mahi, it comes with mashed potatoes, asparagus and lemon caper berries. The hog snapper is so popular that a restriction has been placed on fishing for them, making them even rarer. Here you can find fresh seafood salad or figs and prosciutto with goat cheese – both light entries perfect for a hot day. For something more filling, try the Farrotto al Tartufo, farro made risotto style with black truffles, Porcini mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and Parmigiano. It is rich, wonderful and satisfying. Farro is an ancient grain, similar to barley, and is packed with protein.

All of his dishes leave you not feeling super full. His fettuccine Alfredo is so light with more cheese and less cream,” said Oppo, who said many of the chef’s dishes take him back to his own childhood.

Pair whatever selection you choose with one of their many varietals of wine, like their light but dry Savu rosé, or get a mixed drink whipped up by the mixologist using fresh herbs. Make sure to end the evening with one of the chef’s homemade desserts, including a melt-in-your-mouth tiramisu, as well as crème brulee, key lime cake, ricotta cheesecake and more.

They also have breakfast available from 7 to 11 a.m. (12 p.m. on weekends). They have everything from omelettes and Eggs Benedict to waffles, pancakes, French toast, Monte Cristo, smoked salmon on a bagel and more. One of their most popular is the lobster omelette or lobster wrap. When breakfast is through, they close for four hours and re-open for dinner.

Listen to live music every night and sit inside or outside on the patio. They also host private events like rehearsal dinners, holiday parties, corporate dinners and more.

Café Med is located at 2096 NE 2 St. in Deerfield Beach. For more information, call 954-596-5840 or visit www.CafeMedDeerfield.com.

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Blooming Bean Coffee opens

Posted on 15 September 2016 by LeslieM

coffee091516By Rachel Galvin

At the grand opening of the Blooming Bean Coffee Company on Sept. 10 at Bailey Contemporary Arts (BaCA), guests listened to live entertainment, drank free coffee and bought pastries, cookies and more.

Our pastries are made by local culinary artists and include vegan, gluten-free and sugary treats,” said owner Rick Stephenson. “This has been my wife’s [Sharon] vision for years. We wanted to create a place where you can bring kids to participate in the art or music while mom is enjoying coffee.”

Before it had its own location, Blooming Bean Coffee was working with the city of Pompano and serving up coffee at local events, green markets and at BaCA.

For 20 years, I knew I was going to do this,” said Sharon. “I just didn’t know where. It is about bringing the community together.”

Proceeds from the locally roasted coffee locale help to stop child trafficking. They contribute financially to organizations like Hepzibah House and There Is Hope for Me. They want to go into the community and teach people about this problem and also mentor young people, girls especially, so that they can learn entrepreneurial skills and be able to stand strong (and not succumb to bad influences and peer pressure of those who may want to harm them).

We want to captivate [the young girls’] hearts and help them find their passion, tell them they are of value,” said Sharon.

Also at the event, artist Steven Mikel was in the other room creating sepia-toned paintings made with coffee, both realistic and abstract. He mixes coffee with water and cooks it down until barely any water is left and uses that as his media. He either paints with it or he will paint it across the canvas and use a twisted wet T-shirt to pull coffee off. (www.stevenmikel.com)

Blooming Bean is located within Bailey Contemporary Arts [BaCA] in the Old Town Arts District in Pompano Beach (41 NE 1 St.). For more information, call 954-295-2225 or visit www.bloomingbeancoffee.com.

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Taste of old Italy: Mozzarita — your neighborhood cheesemaker

Posted on 18 June 2016 by LeslieM

olditaly061616By Rachel Galvin

In today’s world of high tech, big equipment and high paced processing; it is nice to know that some people still do things the old-fashioned way. Vito Volpe is one of those people. He works with his employees to make mozzarella from scratch all handmade with 100 percent cow’s milk, no preservatives.

The art of cheesemaking began far before recorded history and seemed to become a more sophisticated endeavor during the times of Ancient Greece and Rome. For Vito, his days of making cheese began as a child in a farm near Bari, Italy. He learned how to make it from his mother.

From little kids, we learned from our mother how to make cheese. We made our own pasta, bread … We had a sheep we would milk and ride. We were not rich,” said Vito.

He moved to New York on Feb. 26, 1972 and opened up an Italian deli. He moved to South Florida in 2006.

Nobody was doing this here,” he said. “Others try and think they know what they are doing and close.”

Today, he creates cheese daily with his workers, which number six and up to about 11 in the busy months (September through May), including his wife Lucrezia. He gets up at the crack of dawn and the process begins. His hands are sore from being in boiling water daylong. Mozzarella (which is derived from the Italian verb mozzare, which means “to cut”) starts with pasteurized hormone-free milk, which he gets delivered from a place in Tampa in 5 gal. bags. Curd is created by adding enzymes and citric acid. The large mass of curd is added to hot whey (liquids from the drained curds) and stirred until the curds melt and begin to form a smooth, shiny mass.

Some of the cheeses he offers are Mozzarella Fior di Latte, Fior di Latte (smoked), Ovolini, handmade Trecce Braid, handmade Nodini Knots, Scamorza, fresh Ricotta, Ciliegine Cherry, Sfoglia di Mozzarella, Bocconcini, Burrata and Mozzarella di Bufala.

His high quality cheeses have been sought out by fine dining establishments, at places like The Breakers and Fountainbleu, The Polo Club, as well as Boca Raton’s Saquella Cafe, Trattoria Romana and Villagio. It is even at certain Whole Foods and elsewhere.

Now, he has been asked to distribute at Publix in 200 stores in South Florida. For that, which will be a much bigger order, he has purchased a new machine to aid in the processing. It will speed up the process. It normally takes a few hours to separate the curds and whey and then as little as 15 minutes to take it and shape it into the proper shape and set it in a cold water bath to be placed into a container to be shipped.

Vito also sells other products like pasta, butter and olive oil.

People can come in and buy products directly from him, but usually they will see him out at events and green markets. Sometimes he sends other people to sell, but he always likes to attend the one in Parkland himself.

It is a nice day off,” he said. “One day to relax.”

What makes his mozzarella different is not only that it is made by hand, but that it is preservative free.

We do handmade with 100 percent milk, not powdered milk, no chemicals. The mozzarella may last only three weeks. Other [companies] say three months, because they put in preservatives. You get pizza with [cheap cheese] and it is like plastic you can crack in half. You feel sick. I don’t like to trick people. If you look for a bargain, don’t call me. If you look for quality, call me,” he said.

He added that olive oil bought from others is usually not pure, but mixed with another kind of oil.

My father used to be able to spoon out olive oil like butter when it was cold. When you look at [another company’s] olive oil, you may see a small ball formed at the bottom. That is the percentage that is actually olive oil,” he explained.

Vito also just opened up Mozzarita Bar (at 9704 Clintmore Rd., #A-105 in Boca Raton), six months ago. He hopes to turn it into a franchise.

There is wine, beer, food with mozzarella, like eggplant parmesan, burrata with salmon and prosciutto, cheesecake with ricotta, ciabatta bread with mozzarella and tomato [and more],” said Vito.

Mozzarita is located at 5392 NE 13 Way, Pompano Beach FL 33064. For more information, visit www.mozzarita.com.

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