By RICHARD DAVID CHAMBERLAIN
Masked in the guise of a neighborhood pizza parlor, Fort Lauderdale Pizza & Pasta is a family-run trattoria that divines some angelic dishes beyond the expected fare of 12”, 14” and 16” thin crust pizzas ($11- $18.00), plus Stromboli ($7.50), Calzone ($6.50) and Sausage Roll ($6.00).
Located in a typical strip mall just west of Federal Highway and East Oakland Park Boulevard, the specialty meals served at this homey eatery are like stepping back in time to Mama’s Italian kitchen.
There’s nothing particularly fancy about the wholesome cooking except the taste, and that is where Fort Lauderdale Pizza & Pasta excels. We were amazed at the texture of the Filet of Tilapia Françese, lightly egg-battered fish swimming in a sea of wine butter reduction ($13.95), served with a side order of spaghetti, a green salad, and housemade garlic rolls. The Françese is repeated with veal or shrimp ($14.95), both surprisingly light, yet abundant with the garlicked flavor of a seasoned chef. The Chicken Cacciatore ($13.95) is falloff- the-bone tender, and is served with onions, white mushrooms, and green peppers in a marinara sauce. There is just enough sauce remaining to wipe up your plate with the garlic rolls that keep being baked fresh in the pizza ovens all night long.
We were less thrilled by the Sausage and Peppers (11.95) delivered over thick spaghetti. While the flavor was pleasant enough, there was a decidedly left-over quality about the peppers, as if yesterday’s batch was stretched on to today’s menu. For those willing to walk on the opposite side of the street, take a taste of the Penne a la Vodka with Grilled Chicken ($14.95). While we tried to force the recipe from the chef, the closest we could get to uncovering the secret of this fashionably subtle dish was a mix of marinara and crème sauce that was a little Alfredo and a lot Southern Italy. While we didn’t taste Vodka, what we did taste was pure pleasure.
Fort Lauderdale Pizza & Pasta also offers an assortment of Italian Subs and Wraps that are aimed at the hardy and hungry among. We’ve never gotten a bad choice from this group, and we’ve tried the Veal Parmigiana ($7.00), the Solid White Tuna with Melted Provolone ($6.50), the Steak and Onions with Mozzarella ($7.00), and the Meatball and Pepper Sub ($6.50), which is the bargain on the entire menu.
There’s a lunch menu served between 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. at Fort Lauderdale Pizza & Pasta that’s heavy on an assortment of fine pasta dishes. The sauces—meat, marinara, tomato, mushroom and garlic & oil, are all housemade—and do not disappoint. Mix and match them across pasta selections of Rigatoni, Cappellini, Penne, Lingine and Spaghetti. The prices are a low $7.00-$7.50, and the serving size will give you enough for a doggie bag for the cagna Italiana.
Should you find a spare inch for dessert, we recommend the Cannoli ($3.50) for its crisp pastry shells filled with delicious sweetened ricotta cheese and sprinkled with powdered sugar; or the tiramisu—pure decadence priced at $4.00. And don’t forget to tell them Agenda sent you, even if you have to speak with your mouth full. We completely understand.
Fort Lauderdale Pizza & Pasta
2100 East Oakland Park Blvd. Fort Lauderdale, FL 33306 (954) 566-5226